Beth's (Susan Kelechi Watson) and Randall's (Sterling K. Brown) very different perspectives during the latter's election bid is explained in the latest episode of This Is Us. After a couple of Nicky-centric episodes, the NBC show shifted its focus onto Beth. Not much is known about Beth's family outside of Zoe (Melanie Liburd) - we don't know how she met Randall, let alone what her life was before she got married - but since the show is all about family ties, it was only a matter of time until viewers found out.
Before the whole Nicky (Griffin Dunne) situation came to light, This Is Us focused on Randall's bid to become a councilman. Beth had just been laid off prompting her to help on his electoral campaign. However, when Randall's chances of winning were still slim as Election Day neared, Beth tried to convince him to drop out of the race, but he refused to do so. This caused some serious conflict in the Pearson household - something that we have never seen before. The couple has since then reconciled but fans are still wondering why Beth was so adamant for Randall to give up on his goal. Now, This Is Us has provided some answers.
True to This Is Us' non-linear storytelling, "Our Little Island Girl" featured flashbacks to Beth's past from life as a young kid to her teens being a pro-ballerina hopeful. It showed Beth getting accepted into a prestigious dance academy in the hopes of becoming the first African-America ballet dancer in New York. Her parents, Abe (Carl Lumbly) and Carol (Phylicia Rashad), worked tirelessly to pay for her dance lessons, but while her father had always been supportive of her dreams, her mother was more of a realist and skeptical of her chances of making it as a pro-dancer.
When Abe died of lung cancer and Beth failed to get the solo performance required to move forward with her ballet career, Carol ruthlessly stopped paying for her dance lessons and forced her to go to college instead. In hindsight, her life turned well despite giving up on dance; she met Randall in college and had a pretty good job (until she lost it recently). Because of this, she's programmed to get through the tribulations of life without that much fuss, meaning that when the odds are stacked up against her, she'd take a more practical route than risk suffering a loss.
Randall, on the other hand, was brought up very differently from Beth. On top of being an over-achiever, his parents always believed in him. At one point, he was even dumbing himself down so as not to stand out from Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Kate (Chrissy Metz), but Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) sat him down and told him that he needs to use the gift that he has. He's accomplished everything that he's set out to do no matter how improbable it seemed (case in point: the election). He haphazardly quit his high-paying job, confident that he can find another one (a stark comparison to Beth when she lost her job). Randall doesn't know what it feels to not be good enough, so he's always optimistic and rarely hesitant. Even if the odds are against him, he just pushes through, positive that he'll eventually gets what he wants.
Beth and Randall's different upbringing and life experiences explain why they had such a contrasting approach to the election. The former didn't want to waste more time and effort on a losing cause while the latter continued to hold out hope that he'll pull through. In hindsight, this also subtly highlights the difference between the mindset of White and Black parents. Both were middle-class families, but while Jack and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) let their kids do whatever they wanted to be, Carol pushed Beth to go through the conventional route career-wise.
This Is Us airs Tuesday nights on NBC.