I never thought that I would say this, but I was a little upset with Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) after Tuesday night’s episode of This Is Us. Beth has been the best and most consistent character on the show since the first season, and I’ve never had a bad thing to say about her, until now. If you’ve been keeping up, you know that she and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) are the new foster parents of a teenaged girl named Deja (Lyric Ros). Adjusting to their new normal has brought out the best and worst in both of them over the past few episodes, but Beth had been handling it the best because she’s close to perfect. But one subtle moment between the two parents made me do a double take.
Kevin (Justin Hartley) comes to the East Coast for a charity gala with this his girlfriend. Because he’s a famous sitcom actor and has abs, he manages to bring Deja out of her shell just a little bit. Prior to meeting Kevin, Deja intentionally kept to herself, avoiding even the most basic conversations with Randall and Beth. On Deja’s first night there, she and Beth got into a huge fight, and then Deja spitefully undid all of the work Beth did on her hair. She’s triggered by sudden movements from Randall because of trauma inflicted by men at previous foster homes. But she is full of shy smiles for Kevin. And, she wants to attend the event.
Randall, starving to connect with the troubled teen, is thrilled. But Beth doesn’t think it’s a good idea. She doesn’t think Deja is “ready” for such a fancy evening. And although I understood her hesitancy, I still felt disappointed about her rationale. I’ve been secretly rooting for Deja. She hasn’t been a team player by any means, but no one is feeling the weight of her circumstances more than she is. Her mother has been in and out of jail for her entire life, and in the interim she’s been in abusive households. She is really going through a lot.
But girls like her still deserve their shot at fancy galas, too. They deserve to take advantage of unique opportunities to hang out with actors that they have crushes on, too. If the choice is between a Black girl making someone uncomfortable and a Black girl being forced to stay home, I will always choose the latter. And I thought Beth would, too. It wasn’t out of character for Beth to be nervous about what could happen, it was out of character that she was willing to overlook a chance to expose Deja to something new and exciting that made me feel bad.
Because she’s still the closest thing to a perfect character on This Is Us, Beth did indeed let Randall take Deja out on the town. And something did happen. Randall taught her how to eat shrimp, and she explained why she didn’t like him touching her. It didn’t go off without a hitch, but the entire night wasn't ruined.