Why This Is Us Didn't Reveal Pamela Adlon's Key Character Until The Very End

Sterling K. Brown This Is Us NBC

Warning! The following contains spoilers for the This Is Us episode "Clouds." Read at your own risk!

This Is Us brought in its latest guest star in "Clouds," but unlike Sophia Bush's one-off episode, they weren't front in center. In fact, the NBC drama decided to leave Pamela Adlon almost entirely off-screen in the episode, opting instead to include her by voice until the final moments of the episode. Adlon is a pretty notable name in Hollywood, so some might be questioning why she was left off-camera for the bulk of the episode.

Executive producer Isaac Aptaker confirmed the decision was intentional to EW, but not because they didn't want to include Pamela Adlon. It was actually due to the phenomenal acting of Sterling K. Brown, and wanting to drive the emotion home behind his therapy breakdown.

A lot of that had to do with what Sterling can do as a performer. As we were talking about this, we started realizing that it would just be absolutely incredible to stay in these long takes with Sterling where you’re getting into his psychology and you’re watching him turn her words over and over again in his mind. And because Sterling is the type of actor that can do that and to live in those minutes-long takes, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do it that way.

There was clear power behind the scene, and yes, the long shots on Sterling K. Brown were appreciated. In true Randall Pearson fashion, the character went on his spiel about how "in control" he is of all the bad stuff happening in his life, while simultaneously showing the pressure of it all is driving him to become increasingly irritated at much smaller things. The visible twitch every time the coffee maker sizzled was a great touch, so it's ultimately not surprising This Is Us went that route with the therapy scenes.

This came at the expense of showing Pamela Adlon. The actress finally did get her on-screen appearance at the episode's end, and Isaac Aptaker said Adlon was actually completely fine with not appearing much in the episode.

She was totally on board, and she’s hilariously funny. She was just like, 'You mean, I don’t have to memorize my lines? That’s great!' [Laughs] But she was a great sport about it and totally, totally understood why it works for that episode… When she returns, you’ll get to see what she can do — and this woman is incredible with Sterling. So it’s really just a very exciting combination, the two of them.

Randall's therapy storyline is said to have a big impact on the final part of Season 4, and Isaac Aptaker confirmed we will see more of Pamela Adlon in the future. The downside is probably fewer closeups of Randall having a breakdown, though I guess in reality his therapy should result in less of that in time.

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Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.