Why Beth Is The Unsung Hero Of This Is Us

Photo: Maarten de Boer/NBC/Getty.
There are several all-star spouses and partners in This Is Us. I refuse to marry anyone if they don’t do pushups with me on their back like Jack. Jesse and William prove that you’re never too old for puppy love. I’m still not completely sold on Toby. But I’m firmly against Kate dating Duke, so Toby will do. However, the real MVP of the series is Beth. Randall’s wife doesn’t get nearly enough screen time, but when she does, it always makes me crave some flashback scenes to the beginning of their love story. Whenever Randall is losing it, which is quite a bit, Beth is the one who holds it together. It’s not because she’s fulfilling some secondary supporting role as a wife and mother, but because that’s just that type of person she is. In last night’s episode, she takes on preparations for William’s impending death, even though her husband appears to be firmly stuck in the denial stage of grief. And this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Beth take the reigns. When William re-entered Randall’s life, Beth wasn’t afraid to ask the former addict some hard questions about reconnecting with his son in episode 2. It was a defining moment that elevated Beth to my favorite character on the show. Later, in episode 6, she was compassionate enough to cautiously offer William weed to deal with his chronic pain. The fact that Beth keeps a stash of weed in the house is already enough for me to love her. There is also something to be said about how Susan Kelechi Watson brings Beth to life on screen. Even in a moment when Black women are dominating prime-time television, Watson’s character still feels like a breath of fresh air. On This Is Us, Beth’s Blackness isn’t completely neutralized like Olivia Pope’s on Scandal (Shonda, please give Liv a homegirl). It doesn’t come with an identity crisis like we witness with Rainbow on Black-ish. And it’s also not sitting on a shelf until her family comes around or she takes her wig off, like with Annalise Keating on How to Get Away with Murder. Watson plays a Black female character who finally doesn’t leave me feeling like they could’ve done better. Beth sleeps in a scarf. She speaks like a Black woman, using euphemisms and sass in a way that doesn’t feel like a forced caricature. When she suggests that Randall’s shirt is too similar to something that Sisqo would wear in the '90s, I literally hollered. It's a Black pop culture reference that feels natural. Beth knows when to clap back and when to fall back. It’s a delicate balancing act that the This Is Us showrunners seem to nail every time. Kevin is whiny. Toby is crass. Randall is dramatic. William is dying. Jack is dead. Rebecca is corny. Kate is too hesitant. But Beth is the best.

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