This Is Us scribe and producer talk Randall & Kevin moving forward after tough episode about adoption and race

Sterling K. Brown Justin Hartley
This Is Us dealt with the ramifications of a tense fallout between Randall and Kevin in the episode “Brotherly Love.” Pic credit: NBC

This Is Us aired an important episode about two topics that are close to the hearts of those who live in the fictional Pearson family: adoption and race. The show’s scribe Jon Dorsey and Executive Producer Kay Oyegun spoke about how brothers Kevin and Randall will move forward after the episode titled Brotherly Love.

Both issues were equally important to Randall (Sterling K. Brown), but Kevin (Justin Hartley) had yet to address either with his brother until a tense discussion which occurred while visiting Randall at his home in Philadelphia.

The last time that Randall and Kevin had a heart-to-heart, their words fired the embers that were burning inside both of them into a firestorm of pain.

Randall told his brother that he “sucked at acting, and Super Dad died ashamed of you.”

In response Kevin told Randall that “the day we adopted you was the worst day of my life.”

This explosive fight simmered under the surface of other more loving life events that occurred for both over the past year, including Randall meeting his birth mother’s Laurel longtime love and learning about her past and Kevin welcoming twins Nicholas and Frances with Madison.

The conversation that needed to happen

Tuesday’s episode of the NBC series reunited the brothers for a conversation that was essential for them to move forward as a family.

Brotherly Love took its name from the storyline and the nickname of the city in which Randall and Kevin’s conversation took place, dove deep into the years of rivalry and misunderstanding between the siblings.

It also showed the angst that accompanied Randall throughout his life as a Black child adopted by a white family. 

Kevin struggled to understand how Randall was anything but grateful for being adopted by their parents.

Randall told his brother that there was a dichotomy on the day he was adopted that he had to rectify. The day the Pearsons took him home was also the same day he lost his biological parents. That weighed heavily on his mind growing up in a family that did not look like him.

Kevin and Randall speak their truths

Kevin told Randall that he always loved him but thought of him as always getting special treatment. “You’re not just my smart, successful brother,” he said. “You’re my Black, smart, successful brother, and I think maybe I did resent that. I thought you getting special treatment was mixed up with you being Black. And I wanted to take you down a notch,” Kevin admitted.

Jon Dorsey said this to Entertainment Weekly of the conversation between the siblings.

“It was making sure that there was a balance between Randall and Kevin, and [the conversation] not feeling too one-sided, like we were piling on Kevin completely. Randall certainly has his own flaws as a character as well. So all of that — the calibration, the balance were definitely tricky,” he shared.

Kay Oyegun concurred in the same interview, “I think the biggest thing is [these characters] are always honest with each other. That part of it really came through. And what’s great about it is that this is not a first-season conversation. This is one that the actors, the characters, and the audience have been on this journey with them.”

Both teased that there are more conversations to be had in the final three episodes of the season, which will air beginning May 11.

This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.

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