The smash NBC drama This is Us focuses on a family spanning several generations, while paying homage to the city of Pittsburgh. Creator Dan Fogelman grew up in the city until age seven and his love for Pittsburgh shines through the delicate fabric of the show in more ways than one.
The Terrible Towel
Who can forget that very first scene when Jack Pearson, played by Milo Ventimiglia, was wearing nothing but a Terrible Towel, a famous Pittsburgh item known to rally the city’s football fans. This was just the first sign of the fictional family’s undying love for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Big Three
Also in the pilot episode, viewers learn the nickname of the central set of siblings: the big three. This of course is a nod to the amount of Super Bowls the Pittsburgh Steelers had won at the time of the siblings’ births in 1980.
The Big Three’s Conception
Two of the big three’s members were most definitely Super Bowl babies as it is revealed that they were conceived on the night of the 1979 Super Bowl, a Steelers win. In fact that evening their parents, Jack and Rebecca, were celebrating at Froggy’s Bar, a popular downtown establishment which closed its doors in 2003.
By the end of the first episode it is clear that the Pearsons lived in Pittsburgh, but later on in the season we learn exactly where they grew up. First mentioned by ten-year old Randall, the family lives in the Bethel Park suburb, just seven miles south of downtown Pittsburgh.
On a quest to find his birth parents, a young Randall traveled to the nearby Schenley Park in hopes of meeting his birth mother, which unfortunately was not the case.
Kevin’s Pitt Interview
One of the siblings, Kevin, grew into a star football player and was even entertaining the thought of playing for the University of Pittsburgh, when a recruiter came to his house for dinner in the late 1990s.
The devastating house fire that shattered the family’s lives also had some historical significance as it was on the night of the 1998 Super Bowl. Alas, the Pittsburgh Steelers were not a part of this game and perhaps that is where the bad luck of the night began.
Three Rivers Stadium
Looking for some alone time, busy parents Jack and Rebecca went on a date that ended with them in the parking lot of the glorious Three Rivers Stadium, formerly located on the north side of the city.
The Night Jack & Rebecca Meet
In the third season premiere it was finally revealed how the characters of Jack and Rebecca met, which coincidentally was also the night of the Immaculate Reception. This well-known football play occurred on December 23, 1972 when the Pittsburgh Steelers faced the Oakland Raiders at the aforementioned Three Rivers Stadium. The ball bounced off one of the players and as it fell Steelers player Franco Harris grabbed it, scoring the winning touchdown.
Many people believe that this was a turning point for the Steelers who went one to win four Super Bowls in the years that followed. Alas, the morning after the game was not as spectacular for Jack, who immediately hit a roadblock in his new relationship with Rebecca. But as the show’s writers reminded viewers: sometimes the ball has to bounce off the wrong guy a few times before it gets in the hands of the right one, and what is more Pittsburgh than that?