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'This Is Us’ star Jon Huertas says caregivers ‘finally felt seen’ by Miguel and Rebecca’s story

“There’s so many beautiful messages,” Huertas said about the reaction to Miguel's dedication to taking care of Rebecca while her Alzheimer's progressed.
/ Source: TODAY

For a series that has spent much of its run focusing on the relationship between Jack and Rebecca, “This Is Us” has covered new ground in its sixth and final season by honing in on Rebecca’s second marriage to Miguel — a relationship that shed new light on just who Miguel is and what makes him tick.

Miguel’s unwavering devotion to Rebecca as her Alzheimer’s deteriorated, even in the face of his own worsening health, won over fans, while also shining a light on the grueling work involved in taking care of their loved ones.

“Caregivers finally felt seen,” Jon Huertas, who plays Miguel, told TODAY during NBC’s upfront presentation in New York City on Monday.

This Is Us - Season 5
Miguel (Jon Huertas) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) didn't have the most traditional love story, but it's one that viewers came to appreciate while seeing how he took care of her.NBC

Huertas discussed how the recent episode focusing on Miguel, which ended with his death, showed what’s involved in looking after a loved one who has Alzheimer’s and how it accurately depicted the experience.

“So many people felt seen in that episode,” he said. “That’s the biggest kind of, and best, feedback that we’ve been getting to this episode is caretakers, people who are elderly and are taking care of their other or are elderly and experiencing in the early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

“There’s so many beautiful messages. They were saying we felt seen, and we felt that it was done authentically, real and we’re so happy to see themselves in that episode.”

This Is Us - Season 6
Miguel remained devoted to Rebecca until his own death.Ron Batzdorff / NBC

The relationship between Rebecca and Miguel was initially met with skepticism, with viewers wondering how exactly she married the best friend of her late husband, Jack. Miguel came off as sort of sketchy, but the show tore down any misconceptions by dutifully laying out how the romance organically blossomed over time and how Miguel was initially conflicted to the point he decided to move away in the hopes of reconnecting with his estranged kids from his first marriage.

Huertas says their union shows how tough a marriage can be for a stepparent.

“I think taking away from Miguel and Rebecca’s relationship is the stepparent gets overlooked in a family and a stepparent longs for acceptance,” he said. “But what was most important for that stepparent is to respect and cherish the reason that they’re a part of this new family and it’s because you love that other person.

This Is Us - Season 6
Kevin (Justin Hartley), Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) came around to embrace Miguel.Ron Batzdorff / NBC

“So Miguel loved Rebecca, no matter what her kids thought of him or anyone else thought of him. He was about Rebecca and their love and supporting her. Sometimes that meant staying quiet. Sometimes that meant letting her deal with whatever’s going on with the Big Three and everything else in her life, allowing her to keep a place for Jack in her life.”

While fans loved Jack and Rebecca together, her second marriage with Miguel proves you can love again.

“I think what I’m going take away is there’s not just one great love story in our lives,” he said.

That's a statement that echoes something he has said before, while tipping his hat to show creator Dan Fogelman for his ability to paint Miguel as his own man.

“He’s figured out how to show people ... that Miguel isn’t trying to replace and never was trying to replace Jack and he really isn’t a replacement Jack," he told TODAY last month. "He is someone that’s filling a void in Rebecca’s heart."

And like a stepparent looking for approval, Huertas said Miguel managed to win over his detractors.

“People that once really did not care for Miguel, as far as audience goes, they have definitely come around,” he said.