This Is Us is a show that lives and dies by the details. The series spans a century, from 1950 when Jack Pearson is born, through 2050, when Jack Damon's first child, Hope, is born. Since 70 of those years are set in the past (with the present being the 2020s), getting the period piece details right is critical to getting the audience to buy into the show. But the series doesn't get it right every time, and Kate's ovulation kit mistake on This Is Us is one of those moments.
Warning: Spoilers for This Is Us Season 5, Episode 4 follow. The current season of This Is Us was never meant to be set during a pandemic, but 2020 made it that way. The series has done a spectacular job under the circumstances, with present-day scenes reimagined with masks and social distancing. But filming under these conditions is also challenging for the various production departments, especially when recreating older eras. It even make it harder to edit these scenes to make sure they're historically accurate.
One of those scenes was Kate's 1990s era relationship with Marc. As fans learned at the end of Season 5, Episode 4, it wasn't just an emotional abusive experience that left her scarred mentally; she also became pregnant. But the scene in which the show revealed her holding a positive pregnancy test had an oddity. As viewers who lived through the late 1990s noticed, Kate wasn't holding a pregnancy test box. Instead, it was an ovulation kit, which women used to see if they were fertile before phone apps existed.
In the past, the show has used these hidden "if you were there, you know" moments to hint at storylines to come. So, many fans took this as a sign that maybe Kate was actually trying to get pregnant, rather than learning she unexpectedly got pregnant.
In any other era, this sort of detail would almost definitely have been a clue for fans. But in this case, there was no secret story. It was just an error. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, This Is Us executive producer Isaac Aptaker admitted he was impressed by the audience's collective eagle-eye in catching the discrepancy. But in this case, it was merely pandemic times prop issue:
This one, unfortunately, was just a casualty of how absolutely impossible it has been to make television this year. Despite the dozens of people who stared at that scene countless times before it went to air, we were all just so fried from all of the COVID [filming conditions] that we missed that one.
Executive producer Elizabeth Berger agreed. As she explained it to EW, this is the sort of mistake the team usually catches when they edit as a group. But in getting used to the new virtual editing experience, everyone missed it:
You can chalk this up to Zoom editing. Usually, we're all in a bay together looking at these giant monitors. And this is the one where we were like, 'Ah, if we had just been there, someone would have seen it!' But everyone is just working so hard around the clock under these crazy circumstances. And every once in a while, you're going to have an ovulation test when you wish you had a pregnancy test box.
Fans will be thankful to know Kate was not trying to get pregnant with Marc's child. How she moves forward now with her pregnancy remains to be seen.
This Is Us continues on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.