This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown recently spoke with Vulture about Randall’s mental health and Brown’s own decision to attend therapy.
This season, Randall’s anxiety hit an all-time low on This Is Us following Rebecca’s medical diagnosis and a house break-in. Although he sought out therapy, his first session got off to a rocky start, and he wasn’t eager to return.
Time and time again, Randall’s reached a breaking point only to pick himself back up with Beth at his side. However, Beth’s hit her breaking point too, she can no longer bear the brunt of Randall’s anxiety as he refuses to get help, and so she insists that he go back. Randall understands, and so he does.
Luckily, his second time around goes more smoothly, seeing as we’re told in Season 4, Episode 17 that he’s been attending sessions regularly. Brown told Vulture this about Randall’s decision to start therapy:
“Here’s a very highly accomplished individual who was trading weather futures and now is a city councilman, who has a necessity for therapy in his life. And it doesn’t keep him from living his full life. He can live an even fuller life when he finds a way to deal with these blind spots.”
Not As Easy As It Looks
Randall carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, feeling as though he must excel at everything he does and make everyone happy. As a result, his judgment often becomes clouded, and he starts drowning, pretending everything is fine while trying to find his way to the surface. Randall’s finally starting to realize that something has to change, even if he’s doing it more for Beth’s sake than his.
What’s been great about watching Randall’s journey is that it’s realistic. It takes a long time to acknowledge your problems and an even longer time to admit you need help. Brown said of the stigma surrounding mental health and his own decision to attend therapy:
“My wife and I are in a good place in terms of how our minds work. Even for people who are healthy — mind, body, and soul — that is something incredibly invaluable to the both of us, being able to seek out therapy as individuals and as a couple, because sometimes you can’t see your own blind spots.”
However, as Randall has learned, therapy is a long process; there are no quick fixes. He’s just getting started on his journey, and so his problems won’t go away overnight. That became apparent when at the end of Episode 17, instead of confronting Rebecca, as his therapist suggested, about keeping William a secret from him, he used that fact as leverage to manipulate her into attending the clinical trial, a move that even Brown condemned:
“It is unquestionably a manipulative move. Whether or not it’s the right or wrong move is going to be open to interpretation.”
However, Brown says that he loves acting in a space where his character isn’t 100% right or wrong all the time because that’s true to life, and he’s right. Randall is a human being that will continue to make mistakes. He shouldn’t be cut any slack, but he shouldn’t be condemned either.
I hope that through therapy, Randall will learn to recognize when his anxiety is taking over and course-correct. I hope that through therapy, he’ll be strong enough to apologize when his anxiety gets the best of him. It’s a process that, like everything else he does, he must give 100% to if he’s looking to get the most out of it.
This Is Us is tentatively set to return for Season 5 this fall on NBC. If you haven’t already, be sure to catch up on Season 4 via Hulu or the NBC app.