This Is Us fans are fighting mad at Randall Pearson for the voicemail he left his wife Beth in Season 3, Episode 16. Turns out, it could've been even worse. Randall (Sterling K. Brown) is usually one of the most popular characters on This Is Us, but he was pushed to the brink from stress and lashed out at Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson). He thought she had blown off his work dinner in favor of going out for drinks with her fellow dance teachers, and he left her a nasty message:
I hope that you’re having fun teaching bored housewives how to twirl better. Grow the hell up, Beth.
Ouch. Fans knew that was a mistake the second he left the message. But Randall knew it was a HUGE mistake when Beth actually showed up to the dinner, just saying she was late because of an accident on I-95. She said her phone had died, and that's why she didn't call Randall to say she was late, but it turns out she did have enough battery to hear that voicemail. She was not pleased.
Apparently it could've been different -- even worse, but also not quite as bad. EW asked executive producers Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker if there were different versions of Randall's voicemail, including some that were even meaner. Here's what Aptaker said:
With really sensitive stuff like that, we always discuss it endlessly. Yeah, there were some that were even meaner, there were some that were too soft; it was really about finding that perfect line, both in the content of what he said and in how rough the delivery was, to make sure that it really did feel scary — one of the worst moments in their marriage — but that it wasn’t like you leave that message and she’s instantly filing for divorce. It was sort of finding that middle [ground].
What they came up with was pretty nasty, but not end-of-marriage nasty ... right? Elizabeth Berger described the state of their marriage at this point as "tenuous," with Isaac Aptaker going with "fraught."
This Is Us has been planting seeds of marriage trouble all season, which has not made Beth and Randall fans happy. There are only two episodes left to the 18-episode Season 3, and Isaac Aptaker said the relationship struggle would carry through the rest of the season.
However, there will be light amid the dark. Episode 17, "R&B" -- Randall and Beth -- takes fans through the highs and lows of the ultimate goals couple. Here's more of that tease from Elizabeth Berger:
Next week’s episode is one of our favorites we’ve ever done, and we wanted to make sure that we weren’t just focusing on fraught moments of their relationship or difficult ones; we wanted to really show the whole picture. So you’re going to see some really beautiful moments, some really funny moments, some really difficult moments. And there are just powerhouse performances by Susan, Sterling, Niles [Fitch, who plays teenage Randall], and Rachel [Hilson, who plays teenage Beth], and we can’t wait for everyone to see them.
Here's the promo for next week's March 26 episode:
This Is Us Season 3 has slipped a bit in the ratings, which may be due to the bleak nature of some of the storylines -- from Nicky in Vietnam, to Toby's depression, to Beth and Randall possibly splitting up. The This Is Us showrunners had previously addressed fans' criticism; as Elizabeth Berger said to THR two months ago:
We get it. We get that people hate when Beth and Randall fight. We hate it too. Or when Toby is down, and we hate that too. We also feel like it's our responsibility to keep things compelling, and to tell these stories as honestly as possible. We're trying to give the people what they want, while also proceeding as honestly as possible.
She also said there would be "a lot of light" still to come from that point. And there has been. There are always little moments of light, like Rebecca asking Jack to dance during the school dance last night, and Kevin showing maturity to be happy for Sophie in her new relationship.
What's really interesting -- and worrisome -- is that that the This Is Us Season 3 finale is called "Her." We know that's connected to the "Her" that was revealed to be Rebecca in the flash-forward. But we still need to learn more about why they are visiting Rebecca, and where Rebecca might be. Also, are Randall and Beth even still together at that point, or did they divorce?
We'll find out as This Is Us Season 3 winds down Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.