The Story Behind That Major ‘This Is Us’ Twist You Didn’t See Coming
Is your jaw still on the floor from the last two minutes of tonight’s This Is Us? No one could have predicted that Kate’s reason for worrying about fitting into a new dress—to sing at a bar mitzvah, no less—was because she’s (warning: spoiler) expecting a baby. A baby! All the signs in the episode—not wanting to eat Toby’s homemade, healthy muffin, checking her fitbit during sex, not missing a yoga class, walking down the pharmacy aisle specifically labeled laxatives, weight loss, and vitamins—pointed to a very (and we mean very) focused Kate merely wanting to keep up a healthy lifestyle. Granted, things were looking like she might be taking it all too far, but haven’t we learned by now not to expect the obvious on this show?
And now we have so many questions: What does this mean for Kate’s burgeoning career? When will she tell Toby? How did Chrissy Metz react? We called This Is Us executive producer and co-showrunner Isaac Aptaker to fill us in. Read on.
Glamour: I was totally shocked by that twist. Was Kate’s pregnancy planned from the beginning?
Isaac Aptaker: There’s no way you could have known! [Laughs] When we started breaking down this season back in the spring, we knew we wanted to do something really exciting for Kate and Toby. We knew they had the engagement and the wedding in the wings, but that seemed a little too expected, and nothing about their relationship and romance [has] gone along the traditional time line. She proposed to him when he was in a coma, they broke up, he had a heart attack…the whole thing has been a little bit unconventional, so we were really excited when we came up with the notion that yet again things would happen a little bit out of the traditional order for them, and they’d get this surprise pregnancy.
Glamour: So this was not in Dan Fogelman’s original series outline then? Or was it?
IA: Pregnancy was definitely part of the plan for them. I don’t believe in his initial bible he knew exactly when he wanted to tackle it, but it definitely was something he wanted to do for Kate and Toby.
Glamour: Now that the audience knows Kate is pregnant, should we have really believed she was that obsessed with fitting into a dress if the baby is the size of a lentil? Or was this just a good way to make us think this was anything other than her being pregnant?
IA: No, I think [her music gig] was just an easy explanation for her to tell Toby, because she’s not quite ready yet to reveal to him what’s really going on. That was a nice cover story she could use that was believable for him.
Glamour: What was Chrissy’s reaction when you guys told her about Kate’s pregnancy?
IA: I remember we had her and Chris Sullivan (Toby) into our office, and we kind of pitched them the whole season at the top of the year so they knew what we were planning. They were both so excited to tell this story. Chrissy was already excited that she was going to get to sing, and then we told her about the pregnancy and potentially the wedding down the road, and she was very happy with her season arc.
Glamour: But was she shocked about the pregnancy?
IA: Oh, totally! She was like, “Wait, what?!” This was another [plotline] where we had to go all secret agent with the script. When we sent out the script [to the cast and crew], we had to omit the final scene. The network called us and was like, “What is it? What is it?” We told them verbally over the phone because we didn’t want there to be any chance that it would leak out onto the Internet ahead of time.
Glamour: I love a good surprise, but part of me was a little bummed that there’s a baby in the mix because I really wanted Kate’s focus this season to be on her singing and developing her relationship with Toby. Will she still want to pursue her career, or will it get put on the back burner?
IA: Yeah, it’s yet another challenge we’re throwing at Kate because she definitely has just started getting traction on this career and it’s been a dream of hers. I don’t think she’s going to want to let it go. At the same time, it’s very, very early in this pregnancy, and our show operates relatively in real time. We jump a little bit [every now and then], but pretty much we’re going over the course of the year. It’s not like she’s popping out a baby next week. It takes a while! So there’s nothing really stopping her from continuing to pursue the singing as she’s pregnant.
Glamour: At the age of 37, being pregnant is technically considered high-risk. Kate even says, “Because of my age and my weight, I want to follow the instructions.” Is there a risk she, unfortunately, won’t carry to full term?
IA: You’re safe to say we’re experiencing this journey along with her, and she’s clearly…she’s nervous to even tell Toby. She’s doing everything right—she’s getting the prenatal vitamins, she’s exercising, she’s eating very carefully—but there’s a lot of anxiety that she’s experiencing. We’re telling a very, very specific pregnancy story here, and that could look a little different for Kate.
Glamour: Will we see any flashbacks in future episodes to the moment that Kate took the pregnancy test to see her reaction? Will viewers ever get to see that?
IA: Oh, interesting! That’s not in the cards, but that is actually a really good idea! [Laughs] Perhaps down the line we will flashback to that moment.
Glamour: Will we see or hear Kate talk about the moment she first thought she might be pregnant?
IA: Yes, yeah, that’s a definite possibility. Because we wanted to tell the story in a surprising way, we had to skip over a little bit of the very early days of her learning this, so there’s definitely another piece of the story to tell of that.
Glamour: When will Toby find out about the pregnancy?
IA: I think it’s safe to say Toby needs to find out soon. Kate’s being very, very cautious about this, and she’s very nervous. She doesn’t want to spill the beans too soon, but they have a very good communicative relationship. I don’t think she can hold out on him much longer before she has to let him know what’s up.
Glamour: How will the pregnancy affect Toby and Kate’s relationship?
IA: They are so good together, and they love each other so much, but it has moved pretty fast. They met a little over a year ago, and they are already engaged, living together, and now pregnant with a kid. The plan for them was live together for a while, have a long engagement, figure out the wedding as she gets her singing off the ground, and this is going to throw them for a bit of a loop because it’s a lot very quickly.
Glamour: Do you already know the sex of the baby?
IA: Yeah, of course. We debate back and forth and plan the whole thing out for the season ahead of time, but I could never tell you.
Glamour: If Kate carries the baby to term, is this something that would happen in season two, or would it be carried over to season three?
IA: Well, it’s like I said, our show happens in pretty much real time over the course of a year. We’re in the fall now, and she’s very early in her pregnancy, so that puts her due toward the end of the season.
Glamour: This show already has like 75 cast members, and now you want to add one more? What are you thinking? [Laughs]
IA: [Laughs] Well, whenever we have our babies on, we’re like, “Oh, let’s try and limit the babies!” Hopefully, they’ll have a nice nursery that is off camera as much as possible because filming with a baby is very difficult.
Glamour: How did the rest of the cast react? When did they find out?
IA: They are all so curious about each other’s story lines because they’re all so close, so when we brought each of our regulars in to walk them through the season, they’d ask, “Well what’s up with the other characters? What’s up with Kate and Toby?” They all knew from the beginning, but they didn’t know when it was going to happen or when we were going to reveal it. But once that script came out with the final scene omitted, they were able to connect the dots pretty quickly.
Glamour: Kate’s pregnancy adds another layer to her relationship with Rebecca. For example, if Kate ends up having a girl, how will she try to raise her child differently? There are so many directions to take this story line.
IA: Oh, totally. I think I mentioned this before, but this season is so much about the mother-daughter relationship between Kate and Rebecca. As Kate is sort of looking forward to what she’s going to be like as a mother of her child, she’s definitely looking back at what worked and didn’t work with her relationship with Rebecca. It just makes it all the more loaded now that she’s thinking about the kind of mother she’s going to be.
Glamour: And what about next week’s episode?
IA: We’re picking up right where we left off with this story, and I think it pays off next week in a very fun, satisfying way.