The third season of NBC's This Is Us has been particularly unkind to Beth Pearson (Susan Kelechi Watson), forcing her to put up with eager beaver political hopeful Randall (Sterling K. Brown) while also dealing with the loss of her beloved job. Struggles for the Pearson family are the bread and butter of This Is Us, but Beth has yet to receive the layered backstory that often comes with such drama. Fortunately, This Is Us just gave us a reason to be hopeful for the back half of season 3: Beth’s mom is headed to the show, and she’s a very familiar face.
Entertainment Weekly reports that Phylicia Rashad will be featured in an upcoming episode that explores Beth’s backstory. It’s unclear if Rashad will portray a present-day version of the character or exist in flashbacks. We know that Beth’s father died of cancer, though not what happened to her mother. Either way — consider us here for more Beth-centric stuff in season 3!
Beth’s family history is particularly interesting given the season 2 arrival of her cousin Zoe (Melanie Liburd), who struck up a romance with Beth’s brother-in-law Kevin (Justin Hartley). Zoe lived with Beth during childhood, but exactly what that childhood was like is unclear.
The inclusion of Rashad — who recently had a role in Creed II and is perhaps best known for her role on The Cosby Show — suggests that This Is Us is ready to give Beth some much-needed screentime in a way that does not specifically relate to Randall.
In an interview, Watson shared her excitement over learning more about Beth.
“I was very invested in the beginning, and although I didn’t know much about her, I was giving her my own sense of what her background was, of what she’s fighting for, and who she is, because that is my part in it,” Watson told Deadline. “She gets to reveal herself a little more slowly than the others so she sort of remains this surprise that we keep learning about. And it gives us the opportunity to tease her out a little bit more.”
As exciting as it is to see more of Beth, Rashad’s casting could cause some controversy; the actress, who worked alongside convicted sex offender Bill Cosby, defender her former co-star when allegations against him came out.
"Forget these women," Rashad told outlet Showbiz 411 in 2015 of the many women who claimed Cosby assaulted them. "What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated. I don’t know why or who's doing it, but it's the legacy. And it's a legacy that is so important to the culture."
This Is Us returns Tuesday, January 15.