Fans of This Is Us can always count on one thing: an emotional sucker punch in every episode. But for viewers who may just be tuning in to the NBC drama, it’s not always clear where the series takes place given it’s multiple storylines (not to mention, different decades!)
For those who need a refresher, the action mainly occurs in three cities: Pittsburgh, Alpine, NJ., and LA. Pittsburgh is where the Pearson kids grew up, and where the flashbacks involving Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) happen. We’re usually reminded of the location thanks to the family’s hardcore love for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Alpine is where adult Randall (Sterling K. Brown) lives with his wife Beth and daughters Tess and Annie. A big arch in Season 1 revolved around Randall’s biological father, William (Ron Cephas Jones), coming to stay with his son while he’s dying of cancer. Their large house in one of New Jersey’s most expensive zip codes provided quite a contrast to what William was used to.
LA is adult Kate’s (Chrissy Metz) home. In Season 1, we find out that she moved across the country to be with her brother Kevin (Justin Hartley) as he pursued an acting career (and she secretly had dreams of becoming a singer). Kev eventually moved to New York City (though he’s now living as a nomad while battling addiction), but Kate stayed behind once she met her soulmate Toby (Chris Sullivan).
Despite its heavy east coast ties, This Is Us is filmed almost entirely in Southern California. One of the main exceptions was the emotional Season 1 episode “Memphis,” which was, in fact, shot in Tennessee. Series creator Dan Fogelman spoke out about trying to capture the spirit of Pennsylvania in the ’80s and ’90s from 2,000 miles away. “We do the best we can,” he said. “It’s really a time factor if we miss a little detail or if it’s just too expensive to get some period stuff correct.”
This Is Us returns Jan. 2 at 9 p.m. EST on NBC.