Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

This Is Randall and Beth, slightly younger edition

Susan Kelechi Watson, Sterling K. Brown
Susan Kelechi Watson, Sterling K. Brown
Photo: Ron Batzdorff (NBC)

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Tuesday, March 12. All times are Eastern.


Top pick

This Is Us (NBC, 9 p.m.): In the course of last week’s This Is Us, the once too-perfect Randall Pearson (Sterling K. Brown), he of the masterful pep-talks and top-tier husbanding and parenting skills, did something that could generously be called a super-duper mega seriously rotten fuck-up. Here’s Caroline Siede, on a very bad voicemail:

The simmering tension between Randall and Beth is clear right from the beginning, as the two try to balance their conflicting dream jobs by sticking to a near-impossible timetable of shared duties. And that tension explodes when Randall mistakenly thinks Beth has blown off for his important work dinner and leaves a nasty, condescending voicemail calling her immature and irresponsible. Once Beth unexpectedly (or expectedly, if you’ve ever seen a TV show before) shows up to the dinner explaining that her phone died on the way there, the episode captures all the tension I felt was missing from last week’s waiting room episode. Beth dutifully plays her role of charismatic supporting wife, but it quickly becomes clear that she’s more than a little pissed at her husband. And she rightly lets him have it as soon as they’re outside. It’s a welcome moment of the season holding Randall accountable for once.

Once you’ve taken all that in, this preview will probably make a lot more sense:

Caroline has pre-clicked her clicky pen, and is thus fully prepared to take notes on the sure-to-be-eventful penultimate episode of This Is Us’ third season.

Regular coverage

Wild card

Mental Samurai (Fox, 9 p.m.): Once This Is Us has exercised your heart, perhaps it’s time to check in on the Rob Lowe-hosted obstacle course of the mind. If we’re in luck, perhaps this guy will be back:

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!