After the dysfunction of Scandal’s Olivia and Fitz, Issa and Lawrence of Insecure, and just about every reality-TV couple, Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) on NBC’s This Is Us are just the representation of #BlackLove that viewers need.
The Pearsons offer something viewers haven’t seen for some time (if ever): a healthy black relationship on a prime-time drama, offering a portrayal that is more real and layered than what decades of sitcoms have depicted, making it relatable for many. Here are 10 reasons they’re TV’s latest couple obsession.
The Pearsons have a lot of priorities to balance, but when it comes to familial responsibilities, the scale is so far tipped in that direction, it’s leaning like Fat Joe. It’s clear that family comes first for them like sweet potato pie comes before pumpkin on the black hierarchy of autumn desserts. Nothing is more important to Randall and Beth than their family, and that begins with the love the two share. When that’s where it should be, the rest is easy.
Of course, not every couple has children, but just about anyone watching Randall and Beth would want to either parent like them or have parents like them. They argue over who’s loved most by their two daughters, and each recognizes the role they play in their kids’ lives. There’s mutual respect and shared authority that has resulted in two smart, precocious children who are open to everything from a gay grandfather (RIP) to a new big sister.
Even when Randall’s skies are gray, Beth rubs him on his back and says, “Baby, it will be OK.” Clearly, some women would react differently after learning their husband, the breadwinner, spontaneously quit his job or suddenly wanted to adopt a child, but Beth has done nothing but support Randall’s decisions, finding compromises with which they could both live. That’s not so hard when you realize your man’s good intentions and that whatever he decides, it won’t eclipse what’s best for you two.
You can’t get more in accord than when you and your spouse are finishing each other’s sentences. Beth and Randall’s dialogue is so in sync, one wonders why they even bother to speak. Can’t they just read each other’s thoughts and communicate telepathically at this point? However, it’s fun to watch the ease of their exchanges (and the telepathy might make it hard for This Is Us fans to follow). They know they can say whatever they want to each other with the bluntness of Kyle and Maxine, but with the touching thoughtfulness of Synclaire and Overton.
With two girls to raise, a foster teen added to the family, a recent loss of a parent, conflicts with extended family members and the everyday struggles of living while black in America, it’s a wonder Beth and Randall aren’t balled up crying in a corner somewhere like anyone who’s ever asked Iyanla Vanzant to fix their life. To offset the hardships, the two ease the tension every now and again with a few jokes. Finding the humor in some not-so-funny situations keeps the beloved couple feeling more Def Jam than damned.
When Beth learns a secret that could devastate her husband, she’s not about keeping it to herself despite pleas from Randall’s father. Honesty is their policy, and though the truth might hurt him, she’s not about to add to the pain by being implicit in the cover-up. Randall trusts his best friend and partner, and she’s giving him no reason to doubt that he should. Randall also recognizes the importance of keeping it real with his wife. So, while suddenly quitting his job or hitting the road to Tennessee might baffle those who don’t know him as well, it’s what Beth expects from the man she knows.
They may have assimilated into mainstream society seamlessly, but make no mistake: Beth and Randall remain extremely woke. From pointing out how no black man is ever jealous of others being auctioned off for charity (“hashtag: American history”) to Beth’s stylish natural hairdos, the Pearsons have unapologetically embraced their African-American heritage like a modern-day George and Weezy who’ve moved on up but remember the struggle.
Who has time for loving with all the tear-jerking drama that is This Is Us? Randall and Beth do. Lucky for us, that’s what they like. Whether they’re just copping feels around the kitchen island or stealing away for a weekend in a luxury hotel suite, the two make sure to find time to keep things sexy, which isn’t hard with this attractive pair. The couple may remind fans that sometimes effort and creativity are needed to keep the flames burning, and it’s totally worth it.
Find someone who looks at you the way Beth and Randall look at each other. There’s romance and then there’s chemistry, which seems to come naturally for these actors and their characters. They’re more adorable than Ruby and Ossie (RIP), and we hope they’re together as long. With the flashbacks and flash-forwards This Is Us is known for, viewers may get a chance to see the older, silver-haired version of the two—or, better yet, a spinoff!
There have been depictions of it on network TV before: James and Florida, Dwayne and Whitley, Martin and Gina, but with the exception of a few daytime-soap-opera love stories (shoutout to Neil and Dru and Angie and Jesse), viewers haven’t seen many black-love portrayals in dramas. Without the laugh track and the need to tie everything up in a tight bow in 22 minutes, there’s more to explore in a realistic way to which many viewers can relate.
It hasn’t caught on yet, but who doesn’t like a moniker merge? It doesn’t fit for every couple. There’s no one-word nickname for Will and Jada (Wada?) or even Barack and Michelle (Mirack?), but “Brandall” works for Beth and Randall. That’s almost as official as marriage vows. Hashtag it.
This Is Us airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.