When I started seeing commercials for This Is Us last summer, I knew instantly that I was going to like it. I'm a sucker for shows, movies and books about complicated and layered relationships and marriages. I was just hoping the world would love it so I wouldn't invest my time only to have the TV executives pull it after 5 episodes. But thankfully, all of America fell in love with The Pearsons just like I did.
This Is Us focuses on the life of Jack and Rebecca Pearson and their three children: Kevin and Kate, who are twins, and Randall, their adopted son who is African-American.
The writers of This Is Us have decided to tell us their stories by flipping back and forth between the 80’s when The Big Three are kids and the 90's when they are becoming teens and then in the present and tying the past and present together.
In that appeal, we get beautifully told stories that most of us are able to recognize ourselves in and our own family drama. We imagine ourselves in the situations the Pearsons are in and how we ourselves would handle them. There are little glimpses into every home and the Pearsons are simply relatable.
In need of a baby name and a fan of the show? Check out our list.
WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD
It was the episode that probably had you in tears. Shortly after Randall reconnects with his biological dad, he finds out that his dad, William, has terminal cancer. In a last ditch effort to get to know his dying father better, Randall plans a road trip to Memphis, TN where William is from. It’s in Memphis that we learn a little more of William's story. It’s also here in Memphis that William passes away. But not before Randall learns more about his father and his biological family. The episode is the end for William, but he doesn’t leave before reminding his son to live a little.
The name Memphis is a good choice for a girl or boy. It’s a Greek name that means “enduring and beautiful.” Kind of like the love Randall and William share. Pass the tissues!
When Kevin goes crazy during the taping of “The Manny” he decides to head to New York to try theater. There he meets the director and playwright of the show he is cast in, Sloane Sandburg. Sloane and Kevin have a sweet but short lived romance. Sloane overhears Kevin telling his ex, Olivia, that he was just going to stay with Sloane because it was the right thing to do, even though it wasn't what he wanted to do. Girlfriend, rightly so, decided to bounce. She isn't going to be someone that Kevin just settles for. Sloane is so much better than that.
Sloane is a popular Irish name for a girl, meaning “raider." It made its debut on the US Top 1000 in 2008. It’s stayed there ever since inching its way closer and closer to the top. It's the ultimate girl-boss name.
Tess Pearson is the oldest daughter of Randall and Beth. I’m guessing she’s about 10 or 11. And even though there has yet to be a lot of character development for her, you can already tell she’s a quick and very smart little girl. Perhaps that’s why William chose Tess and her younger sister, Annie, to oversee his memorial. Before William headed off to Memphis to die, he left a letter specifically asking that the younger Pearson girls be responsible for giving him the best memorial service ever. Instead of a funeral, the girls planned a fun-eral - emphasis on the fun!
Tess is an English name that is a derivative of Theresa. But Tess is much cooler. Tess means “to harvest” and is a single-syllable name with a lot of strength and substance.
We are introduced to Sophie after Kevin decides to dump self-indulgent actress, Olivia and then subsequently gets dumped by director and playwright, Sloane. Kevin links up with his sister’s boyfriend Toby and is going down the pros and cons of being with each girl. Toby tells him to shut his eyes and picture the woman he wants to be with. And it happened to be neither of those women. And that’s when we are introduced to the wife we never knew he had, Sophie, who Kevin cheated on 12 years earlier. We then get to watch Kevin attempt to woo her back into his life.
Sophie means “wisdom." So hopefully, Sophie Pearson will use some of that when it comes to Kevin. But I digress. Sophie is the almost identical twin name of Sophia. Both of which are incredibly popular names.
Annie Pearson is the youngest of the Pearson clan and the youngest daughter of Randall and Beth. Like Tess, Annie was also chosen by William to head up his memorial service. Both girls thought it was important to not sit around and cry over the loss of William, but instead celebrate the amazing person William was. Which was why instead of a eulogy, the girls opted to do a toast in his honor and decorate with lots of balloons and confetti. For the youngest of the family, Annie is incredibly bright and sensitive.
The name Annie means “grace” and is an English name. From 1880 to 1907 Annie sat comfortably in the Top 20 position. Annie still remains within the top 200 but still has that throwback or retro feel to it.
I could fill this entire post about actor Milo Ventimiglia but unfortunately, I’m limited to only so many words. So, let’s get started. Milo plays Jack Pearson, the patriarch of the Pearson clan. Anyone who watches the show knows that Jack is really the heart of that family and probably the major reason you tune in week after week. Well, maybe his infectious grin and fantastic facial hair have a little something to do with it. You probably also recognize Milo from his Gilmore Girls days where he played bad boy Jess, a character that is in such stark contrast to the wholesome do-gooder dad he plays now.
Milo is an Old German or Latin name that means “soldier” or “merciful." Milo ranks number 248 on the Top US 1000 chart, but we bet it's on its way up.
It was hard for actress and singer Mandy Moore to get the respect she deserved back in the 99’s and 00’s. She had that amazing hit “Candy” and then she was the sweet dying girl in “A Walk to Remember” but somehow the crazed sexed up pop singers stole her shine. But that's okay, because right now she's riding high playing Rebecca Pearson, the beloved mom on This Is Us. And she gets to kiss Milo Ventimiglia, so she really gets the last laugh.
Moore is a popular English last name. It's not commonly used as a first name but that's what makes it interesting to me. And if Moore happens to be your maiden name, what a great way to honor your own family name by giving it to your child as a first name.
Sterling K. Brown plays Randall Pearson who is the child that Jack and Rebecca adopted as an infant after their son died at birth. He’s the sibling that kind of has everything together. He’s intelligent, successful and has a beautiful family. Besides portraying Randall on This Is Us, Sterling’s other breakout role was portraying Christopher Darden in 2016's The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, for which he won an Emmy Award. Not a bad person to name your child after.
Sterling is a perfect name for a boy or a girl. When I was in elementary school, I knew a girl named Sterling, with the alternative spelling of Stirling. Sterling means “of the highest quality." In the last 8 years, the name has jumped 400 spots most recently landing at number 458.
Kate Pearson, played by Chrissy Metz, is the daughter of Rebecca and Jack. In season one we learn how her mother's parenting regarding her weight damaged her and as a result, Kate really struggles with her identity and challenge to lose weight. In season one, Kate is determined to take control of her life. She wants to tackle not just losing the weight but the emotional side to her weight gain, which a lot of women, and even men for that matter, can relate to. Kate is someone we absolutely empathize with because we've been there.
Kate is an English name that means “pure” and is incredibly popular in Ireland coming in at the top 20. Here in the US, it sits firmly in the top 200’s. Katherine, Katie, and even Cate are all good spins on Kate as well.
Justin Hartley plays the very good looking brother Kevin Pearson. Kevin, the Hollywood actor, tires of playing the “eye-candy” character on “The Manny” and decides he wants to try Broadway instead. When he gets to NYC, he gets more than he's expecting. In New York he gets to reconnect with his brother Randall, his ex-wife and, as corny as it sounds, even himself. He discovers a depth he didn't realize he had. You may recognize Justin from when he was a soap actor or as a recurring guest on the ABC shows Revenge or Mistresses.
Justin is a Latin name that means “fair and righteous." It's a name that has been popular ever since the 1980's and in the 90's the name pushed itself to the number 9 position and now sits at number 113.
Doctor Nathan Katowski aka Dr. K. is the doctor that delivers Kevin and Kate. After the third baby dies during delivery, Dr. K comes out to speak with Jack. Dr. K shares with Jack his story of losing his own baby. He tells Jack that maybe he can take the sourest lemon that life offers and turn it into lemonade. Shortly after that, Jack hears about an abandoned infant and convinces Rebecca that they should take him home as their own. They do and that baby becomes their son, Randall. Dr. K also reappears in the Pearsons' lives years later when it's his turn to be sick in the hospital.
Nathan is a Hebrew name that means “given." It’s remained steadily popular over the last 40 years ranking at number 43 in 2016. Even Jon Stewart chose it for his son.
Janet Montgomery plays Olivia Maine, Kevin’s ex-girlfriend and stage partner in his Broadway play. After Kevin flees Los Angeles, he decides he wants to become a Broadway actor. Olivia is a beloved veteran of the stage and thinks Kevin sucks at acting. Despite Olivia’s misgivings, Kevin gets the job and for the good of the play, Olivia decides to take Kevin under her manipulative wing. They eventually develop a great chemistry, both on and off the stage.
Montgomery is more commonly thought of as a last name. A Scottish name meaning “man power” at first glance seems more fitting for a boy. But I think that if you were to couple this with a traditionally feminine middle name like Grace or Annie it would be a wonderful and unexpected choice for a girl.
Niles Fitch is the teenage actor that portrays 15-year-old Randall on This Is Us. We first see Niles in episode 7 where we are finally given more back story to the tension we see between present-day Kevin and Randall. Kevin and Randall at 15 are sharing a bedroom and it’s getting difficult each day. It starts with a fight that moves Kevin to the basement and then ends with the two boys fighting on the football team. I’m sure we will be seeing more of Niles in the coming season as we deal with Jack’s death that we know happens when The Big Three are in their teens.
Niles is traditionally an English boys name that means “cloud” or “passionate." Niles could also be spelled Nyles or the Irish variation of Niall (which your pre-teen niece might appreciate).
Chris Sullivan plays Toby Damon on This is Us. Toby is Kate’s fiancé and they meet at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. Throughout the season, the two go through various issues that lead them to break up. Luckily, by season's end, the two have made their way back to each other and Toby has put a ring on it. Prior to his role on This Is Us, Chris was most known for his character on The Knick.
Sullivan is an Irish surname that means “black-eyed one." It was made popular thanks to the 1930s classic Sullivan’s Travels and is popular amongst celebrities with both Patrick Dempsey and James Marsters using it for their boys. Although popular for the boys, it is an equally good choice for a girl.
Mackenzie Hancsicsak is the adorable nine-year-old actress from Santa Clarita, California who plays Kate Pearson through the ages of 8 to 10. Mackenzie is handed a ton of heavy scenes as she deals with a lot of Kate’s early emotions about her body image. The fourth episode of the season, “The Pool” is the young actress' favorite. In the episode, young Kate is body-shamed for wearing a bikini to the pool and Jack consoles and encourages Kate.
The name Mackenzie was once considered to be a boy's name. But thanks to eighties TV actress Mackenzie Phillips, it grew in popularity amongst parents as a choice for their own daughters. Even J.K. Rowling is part of the widespread trend making the name number 85.
Randall, craving the company of other black kids, suggests the family head to the local pool that the black kids frequent for the day. Once there, Rebecca goes looking for Randall only to find him off with another family. Ryan Bathe’s character, Yvette, speaks up to admonish Rebecca for not introducing herself and for not reaching out for guidance on raising a black child. The two women make up and Yvette becomes sort of a sounding board for Rebecca and haven for Randall when he needs it. Rebecca is often overwhelmed raising her triplets so it's great to see her finding some support. And it's even better to see Randall making some friends.
We all know that Ryan is an ultra popular name for boys. But I like using it for a little girl. You can try the alternate spelling of Ryanne to make it a little more feminine too.
We don't know a lot about Randall's biological mom Laurel. Is she still alive? Did she die in childbirth? Did she die of a drug overdose?
Here is what we do know:
William and Laurel met on a bus when William went to Pittsburgh to care for his dying mother. They fell in love and then they fell deep into drugs. And then somehow, William was left on a bus with a baby that he eventually left at a fire station.
Hopefully, season two will give us a little more of her story.
Laurel is a different spin on the botanical name trend for girls. In Ancient Rome, a laurel wreath signified success and peace. Be careful though, because you may have those who will mistake it for Laura.
At home, Rebecca struggles to connect with Kyle, the adopted baby they brought home. Without much to go on, she tracks down his biological father, William, and meets with him. Before leaving, William gives her a book of poetry by Dudley Randall, which was a book he would read to the baby while he was still in his mother's belly. When she gets home, Rebecca tells Jack she wants to change Kyle’s name to Randall.
Dudley Randall was a famous African-American poet and publisher who went on to author many standouts in the African-American writing community.
Dudley may not be on the top of everyone's list but it's obscure enough to have that “cool factor." And it's a great way to honor a black literary icon.
Parker Bates is the 10-year-old actor who plays young Kevin Pearson. We spend a lot of the season focusing on The Big Three as young kids. One of my favorite episodes with young Kevin is when he convinces his parents to throw three separate birthday parties for him and his siblings. Kate gets a Madonna party, Randall gets a magic party and Kevin gets a Princess Bride party. But really, it was just a ploy to get Kate's friend Sophie to their house - the same Sophie who would later become his wife.
Parker is a first generation last name that means “park-keeper” so if you choose this name, you already have a good first birthday theme you can go with. It's still a popular choice for parents in the top 100 for boys at number 87, but also a strong contender for a girl resting firmly at number 217.
Pearson is the last name of our new favorite TV family. And why shouldn't we include it on this list? The Pearsons blasted into our hearts in September of 2016 and instantly became a hit. There isn't an episode that doesn't have its viewers in tears or able to relate in some fashion. Although a fictional family, the Pearsons, in just 18 short episodes, have been able to get their viewers to see themselves in the family. We cry with them, laugh with them and cheer them on each and every week.
Pearson is a traditional Irish surname derived from the name Pierce which means “rock."
Although Pearson is not traditionally a first name, I think it would be a wonderful choice for a fan of the show that may want to use something a little offbeat.