Post Mortems

This Is Us Gets Passions-ate: Here's Why Kevin's Soapy Aside Was Funny

This Is Us Passions Justin Hartley Liza Huber Joke Season 4

Buried deep in the drama of Tuesday’s This Is Us was a joke so subtle, so thrilling (to daytime TV fans), so — dare we say — magical that Tabitha Lenox could’ve summoned it herself.

We’re talking about something Kevin said to Randall in “New York, New York, New York,” at the afterparty for the premiere of Kevin’s movie. The two brothers argued over the best trajectory of care for their mother, Rebecca, who’d recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. (Read a full recap of the episode.) Randall strongly suggested enrolling Rebecca in an experimental, in-patient clinical trial in St. Louis. Kevin balked at the idea of his mom leaving her California home for months at a time, saying that he was around to help her out in the months and years to come.

This vow of support incensed Randall, who called out his often flighty sibling. “We both know that at any minute, you could take off for Morocco to go do a movie. Or go live in a trailer. Or hook up with Susan Lucci,” he said.

“Well,” Kevin clarified, “it was her daughter. But whatever.”

Praise Timmy! A Passions reference, veiled though it may be!

For the uninitiated: Justin Hartley, who plays This Is Us‘ Kevin, got his acting start playing Fox Crane on the aforementioned late 1990s/early 2000s soap opera. Passions aired on NBC, it ran for eight-ish years on NBC (and then for a year or so after that on DirecTV) and it was bats–t in the best way. In addition to the usual daytime drama love stories, the sudser also mixed in the supernatural: Tabitha, for instance, was a witch who brought her doll, Timmy, to life; the pair honestly were one of the more stable duos on the show.

And though Susan Lucci was not a member of the Passions cast — she’s the longstanding diva of ABC’s All My Children — her only daughter, Liza Huber, was. Huber originated the role of Passions‘ Gwen Hotchkiss in 1999, left the show in 2000 but returned in 2002.

Hartley and Huber were co-stars from 2002 (when he joined the soap) to 2006 (when he left). Alas, their characters never were romantically linked; Gwen was eternally ride-or-die for his half-brother, Ethan.

Did you pick up on This Is Us‘ Passions reference? Sound off in the comments!

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