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This Is Us -- Brotherly Love


Randall wants Kevin to see things from his POV but doesn't try to do the same for Kevin

I’m probably the only viewer that isn’t excited about Randall and Kevin mending fences. Probably because the denouement was all about Randall and Randall’s needs per usual. It also didn’t really address the things that happened in the season four finale. The deception and pretending he didn’t know why Rebecca had changed her mind about the trial and all the things he said to Kevin. It was touched on in a very minor way but it was predominantly about Randall being black, which had little to do with what happened in the finale.

I got thrown off a Facebook This Is Us group because I suggested the story was changed this season because Sterling K. Brown who plays Randall is a big supporter of Black Lives Matters and I still stand by that statement. I don't feel this is the original story they planned. Suddenly the white psychiatrist Randall hand-picked because she looked like Rebecca was suddenly not good enough and he needed a black psychiatrist instead who would be able to get him. The female shrink actually got Randall just fine and she was starting to get at the issues we’ve seen played out for four seasons. Issues that had little to do with him being black. And the scene where Randall tells Kate he’s tired and can’t make her feel good has been lauded, but it also made no sense. Kate was marching for Black Lives Matter to make him feel better and he started ghosting her. Yet she’s put in the position of the one whose in the wrong when she was trying to do something nice. The fact is Kate looks to Kevin to make her feel better and she’s never looked to Randall to make her feel good.

Randall’s story wasn’t the only story that was changed this season. The doctor who urged Madison to tell Kevin she was pregnant and who was supposed to become their Dr. K was dropped. The trial Randall emotionally blackmailed Rebecca into agreeing to go to was also dropped. After four seasons of Jack and Rebecca treating Kevin as the invisible child we had scenes where Rebecca was supposedly babying Kevin, contradicting the post-partum depression she seemed to have in regards to the twins who she couldn’t bond with after bringing them home and which was the beginning of her co-dependent relationship with Randall. And Jack was suddenly spending a lot of time with Kevin because he went out for football.

The real issues were dealt with in one sentence. Randall got all the attention. Jack didn’t die ashamed of Kevin and Randall just said that to get at Kevin. But neither of those sentences were dealt with with any real depth. The whole reconciliation was about Kevin needing to understand how Randall felt being a black child growing up in a white family.

There were two flashbacks to their childhood. Jack took young Kevin and Randall to see Mr. Rogers show. There was an incident where the usher was surprised Randall was Jack’s son, too. So Jack gave extra attention to Randall and he got the best seat and Kevin got jealous and took it out on Randall cause he wasn’t getting the same treatment as Randall. Then after the show Kevin ran off so Jack would have to chase him leaving Randall alone while someone talked to him through a puppet until Jack returned.

Randall revealed he used to pretend he was living with his bio-mother and father, but felt guilty about it, because he loved the Pearsons and could never totally enjoy his fantasy. Thanks to his trans-adoption group Randall realized there’s nothing wrong with doing that so he had a dream at the end of the show of being raised by William and Laurel now he knows who is bio parents were instead of the pretend parents he made up.

The other flashback was about Randall visiting Tween Kevin in California. Nothing was mentioned if this was after he cheated on Sophie and they divorced. Kevin got Randall a fake ID since they’re too young to go bar-hopping of a forty year old black man. The insinuation being you all look alike and no one will notice you’re not a forty year old black man. They get into a fight on the way to the club and don’t go after all. Kevin confesses to Randall things aren’t going well for him in California and they seem to make up.

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In the present Kevin tries hard to understand how Randall felt growing up black in a white family, but Randall never even tries to understand how Kevin felt. It's great being the child that got all the attention and still not being satisfied but try being the kid that got very little attention and was at times ignored and had to be grateful for what he got. Which is typical of their relationships as adults. Kevin has to do all the work while Randall gets the benefit. They seem to be at peace with each other at the end of it. So I guess the big fight is over.

I thought the key to Randall’s anxiety was when they moved to big kid beds and Jack told Randall he had to be the one who wasn’t high maintenance because he couldn’t take three high maintenance kids. Then we saw a few years down the line where Jack and Rebecca were always putting Randall first so he wouldn’t be set off. I suggested Randall had weaponized his anxiety so he wasn’t the kid that didn’t get attention and I was told by Randall fans that his anxiety was genetic because William also had anxiety issues. But now it seems all of Randall’s anxiety is because he was raised in a white family.

In other news Kevin is waiting to hear from DiNero to reshoot his scenes, so unbelievably he got no consequences for trashing the producer of the film and walking out on the film. Have to say I think the writing quality really went down this year.

One thing I don’t expect the show to dwell on is after helping Kevin study his football playbook and seeing how much attention Kevin was getting for playing football Randall decided to go out for football at his school to compete with him and be better at it than Kevin was. And, of course, if Randall and Kevin were playing games the same night Randall’s games would have been attended so as not to set off his issues of always being first while Kevin’s games would be missed. Which may be why Kevin was finally allowed to have his own room after Randall's betrayal.

Telling a story of a black child growing up in a white family and never feeling he fit in is a good story, it’s just not the story they told for the first four years of this show. Kevin was the odd one out as Jack and Rebecca never seemed to have time for him after taking care of all of Randall and Kate’s needs. I don’t know what more they could have done to make Randall feel he belonged. They always put him first. Yet he was still fantasizing about a better family where he felt he belonged.

If they really wanted to play up this issue they would have shown Randall being teased at school about being raised by a white family the same way Kate got targeted for his weight. The most we saw Randall have an issue at school was the expensive shoes Randall insisted Jack buy him weren't the shoes you were supposed to wear at Randall's private school and he had an anxiety attack about it.

Some of it did ring true, like Randall fantasizing about growing up in this perfect black family. When he was taken out in public he was always looking for his “real” parents. It might have been nice if through therapy Randall realized he always had to be put before Kevin because he felt threatened by Kevin because he was Jack and Rebecca’s bio son. That his lifelong need to be better than Kevin is because he felt Kevin belonged in the family in a way he didn’t feel that he did. Maybe they could have even done a joint therapy where Kevin owned he was so nasty to Randall because he felt like he was the outsider in the family and blamed Randall for it, and they would realize they both felt like outsiders in the family and that would form a new bond and understanding between them.

I also have to ask if the show’s writers are biased against adoption? They’ve really done a number on it via Randall. If I was thinking of adopting a child I wouldn’t after watching this season. No matter how much you do for an adopted child it’s never enough and they’ll always be looking for their “real” parents. I’m sure there are children who were raised by parents of a different race than them that are actually happy they got adopted and aren’t fantasizing about being with their “real” parents. Who actually think of their adopted parents as their real parents.

I also think Randall still doesn’t realize just how lucky he got when Jack decided to adopt him. If William hadn’t done what he did, Randall still wouldn’t have had this happy fantasy family. Both Laurel and William would have been arrested and Randall would have been put in the system and might not have gotten lucky to be adopted by another Jack and Rebecca. He definitely wouldn’t have been sent to a fancy private school or had his college paid for him. Jack and Rebecca ignored their own son to lavish all the attention on Randall and not only doesn’t he own it he doesn’t seem to be grateful for it, either. But then he wouldn't own it when Beth said she had to put her wants and desires aside so he could have what he wanted.

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