This Is Us Reminds Fans That Toby's Depression Wasn't "Cured" By Kate's Love

Photo: Courtesy of NBC
If any character on the often-emotional This Is Us can be categorized as the comic relief, it's Chris Sullivan's Toby. The now-husband of Kate (Chrissy Metz) is notorious for jokes, goofy romantic gestures, and for lightening the mood when the Pearson clan gets too intense. However, just because Toby is always ready to make Kate laugh doesn't mean that he's without his own darkness. The season 2 finale of This Is Us revealed that Toby's depression will rear its head again, and it's an important plot point that the series was right to come back to.
This Is Us reminded fans of Toby's past history during the finale, and then, in the final moments of the episode, flashed forward to Toby looking depressed and withdrawn in bed. Kate tells him that the doctor wants to adjust his medication — implying that Toby's depression has resurfaced.
Prior to the flashforward at the end of the season 2 finale, Toby's parents urged him not to marry Kate: They were worried she was "unstable" and that he would be forced to bend over backwards to take care of her. They worried that Toby marrying Kate would put him back in a bad place — one the show hasn't mentioned since season 1.
Following the end of Toby's marriage to his first wife, he became clinically depressed, and a shell of the person he was. Fortunately, Toby was able to get the help he needed. By the time he met Kate, Toby's depression seemed in his rearview mirror.
There are certainly people who go through a bout of depression one time in their lives, and never have another experience like the one Toby had. However, it's important that This Is Us not suggest Toby's depression was simply due to the dissolution of his first marriage — or that being with the "right person" would make him immune to future mental health issues.
If the show was willing to talk about Toby's past struggles with depression, it also had to be willing to show an honest portrayal of the condition. Kate and Toby can get through Toby's depression and come out on the other side, but that doesn't mean that their love is what will "make Toby better."
Of course, this isn't the first time that This Is Us has reminded fans that love isn't a cure-all for life's problems — and it's certainly not one for mental health issues. Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) struggles with addiction, even though he is seemingly a happy family man very much in love with his wife Rebecca (Mandy Moore). Kevin (Justin Hartley), a famous actor who appears to have it all, spirals from his own addiction issues after he gets back together with his ex-wife, Sofie (Alexandra Breckenridge).
Ideally, This Is Us will show Toby battle his mental health issue, and come out healthier and happier on the other side. However, This Is Us is already doing right by not ignoring the struggles that people dealing with the same issue as Toby have to face.

More from TV

R29 Original Series