‘This Is Us’ Season 3 Premiere: Showrunners Break Down Jack and Rebecca’s Awful First Date

Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger tell TheWrap about the awkward beginning to “a charmed, magical love story”

This is Us - Season 3
THIS IS US — "Ave Maria" Episode 301 — Pictured: (l-r) Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

(Warning: Spoilers ahead for the Season 3 premiere of “This Is Us.”)

Now that was rough to watch.

If you tuned in for the Season 3 premiere of “This Is Us,” then you know by now that Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) — the pinnacle of small-screen romantic perfection — had what may be one of the most cringeworthy first dates in the history of television.

Jack is flat broke at a carnival, Rebecca can’t stop talking about herself in a nervous fashion, and it starts raining. And we’re not talking about cute, lovey raindrops. Like, a torrential downpour that punctuates just how bad this whole thing is.

And that’s exactly what co-showrunners Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger tell TheWrap they and creator/fellow co-showrunner Dan Fogelman were going for when breaking the episode about how these two lovebirds got together.

“I think you look at a couple that’s had sort of a charmed, magical love story, other than a tragic ending, and I think, ‘How did it begin? What’s the origin story?’ It is such an interesting question,” Berger told TheWrap during the “This Is Us” Season 3 premiere in Los Angeles Tuesday night. “And we all got so excited about revisiting that moment in the bar when their eyes first met. And I think our question was, ‘OK, well what was the moment after that moment?’ And that sort of led us down a really fun path.”

“One of our writers in particular had an incredibly amazing story of when he met his wife,” Aptaker added. “He was completely broke in grad school and took her I think on the Staten Island Ferry as a free boat ride date and they had a picnic and we’re like, ‘Oh that’s such an interesting dilemma. What do you do if you have $5 to your name and you meet the girl of your dreams and you really want to impress her?’ So once we had that notion we kind of ran with it.”

And run with it they did, into an episode that — despite the less-than-perfect meet cute — led to one heck of a first kiss for the pair. Now we just need to wait to find out who the heck that guy who showed up on Rebecca’s doorstep with flowers the next day is. Watch it, bud, she’s taken.

You can read our interview with Sterling K. Brown about the Season 3 premiere here. And to find out everything we currently know about Randall’s mysterious “her,” go here.

“This Is Us” airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.