Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Fosters

The Fosters
Episode 7: The Fallout
Episode 8: Clean
By: Carlos Uribe

The Fosters is a show about an interracial married lesbian couple that raises their biological son and adopted kids.

Spoilers Ahoy!

The Fallout:

The reveal that Lexi has been having sex with Jesus to her parents has had major consequences that are fully explored this week. Her parents forbid her from seeing Jesus again and they decide their going to send her to boarding school in Texas. The mother was so angry that she actually wanted to send her to live with an aunt across the border. It had destroyed her relationship with her parents because they are so disappointed that she would betray their trust. The damage goes beyond that because of Stef's decision to give the morning after pill to Lexi. This threatens Lena's career because school officials aren't allowed to hand over any medicine without the approval of the parents. While Lena might have had nothing to do with the decision, her partner's actions are basically considered her own. She could lose her job and her professional reputation would be ruined. It would be the end of her career. There are a lot of negative repercussions to go around that really reveal how tightly plotted this show is. A lot of series would have been content to merely break Jesus and Lexi up or to ship her away. The Fosters goes a step farther by having it impact a character due to a related decision by another character. That's smart writing that helps generate conflict between Stef and Lena while being able to deal with the fallout of Mariana's drunk outburst that Lexi slept with Jesus. Lexi's life is threatened to fall apart, her parents are disappointed her, and she runs away in an effort to give them time to think over the decision to send her away. It's a typical teen response but it's the main narrative drive of the week. Adding an additional conflict between Stef and Lena was just icing on the cake. Nobody would blame The Fosters for stopping there. The most genius part is that it didn't stop there. It actually went a whole step farther with the reveal that Lexi and her parents are undocumented aliens. They are illegal aliens, which explains why they wouldn't want to go to the police when Lexi runs away. It went from being a typical teenage runaway story with good icing on the cake to being socially relevant.

What I love about this reveal is the way it plays with expectations. When people think illegal immigrants, they think of hard workers who live in slums who are sending most of their money back home. This is the reality for many illegal immigrants but there are a lot who would surprise you because they aren't working for barely anything. It's heavily implied that Lexi's family has some money as they can afford to send their daughter to a good private school. They are normal people who can speak English and attend church. There is nothing to indicate that they jumped the border but that they legally came over with visas. It's really an attempt by the Fosters to make people have a new perspective on who an illegal immigrant could be. Their not just the people who garden or clean toilets but they could also be your next door neighbors. You could know them for a long time without knowing who they are because they have money. Illegal immigration is currently an issue and I'm sure a lot of people are looking at the current border deal that Congress is currently working on. It's relevant and I think it's important that they be humanized rather than merely criminalized. Lexi's family is not just normal but they also suffer the same obstacles as any illegal immigration does. After all, they are afraid to go to the police because they don't want to be deported. They like the security that the United States has to offer and I think it's safe to say that they are as American as the titular family. They have raised their family here. So showing them isn't just a way for the Fosters to proclaim anybody could be an illegal immigrant but to weigh in on the debate. You don't have to agree with the show as it's a pretty bold topic for the show to tackle but I do think it's important that television does for both sides of the issue.

The show also decided to reveal just why Callie might be afraid of Liam. She's afraid that Sarah might have started a relationship with him and we find out why when she opens up to Brandon. Liam took her virginity by force. She had always blamed herself. She's finally ready to realize the truth and start to speak out in order to protect someone else from suffering the same fate. Rape is a pretty grim topic for the show to tackle and it's a big decision to put that in the protagonist's background. It certainly makes it more tragic while at the same time truly turning the audience against Liam. It will be interesting to see where the Fosters is going to take this plot. There's also a small sub-plot where Jude invites Conner over for a school assignment. I'm not entirely sure whether they are just striking a friendship or if there's supposed to more there. I know Jude is different but is he gay or is he just feminine? Anyways, it's a good way for the writers to reveal Jude's way of thinking as he reveals he barely has any personal materials or that he doesn't see the purpose in speaking negatively about anyone, not even the kids who bullied him. It's not a bad plot and it helps provide some brevity considering how serious the other plots are but I'm not entirely sure where the show is going with this. Overall, The Fallout is a pretty great episode simply because it takes into account the consequences of the character's decisions (morning after and Mariana's drunk outburst) to great effect while dealing with the illegal immigration episode. The rape story has potential to be good while the Jude story is light fluff but I'm not sure there's anything more to that...yet.


The Fosters has already tackled the issue of gay marriage between religious points of view and this week it tackles it from the gay community. It's not a clear-cut support from every gay character on the show but rather an exploration on how the community can disagree amongst itself. It does this through Lena's ex-girlfriend, Gretchen. There is some of the usual couple conflict that arises when an ex comes to visit but I'm more interested in what happens towards the end. Gretchen is surprised that during the brief period where gay marriage was legal in California (written and produced before the Supreme Court ruling) that Stef and Lena didn't get married. Lena turns out to have been a huge proponent for gay marriage because she wanted to have a wedding. It was so important to Lena that she broke up with Gretchen because of this. Gretchen refused to settle down and refused to remain monogamous. The reason they hadn't gotten married is because Stef didn't want to. She had been married to Mike, that went south, and now she views marriage as “a state of mind, not a matter of the state” or something. Basically, she doesn't feel like she needs a piece of paper to prove her dedication to Lena. While Stef might not be against gay marriage, it certainly offers the different outlooks that can exist in the community over the issue. I think that's very interesting and it's great that the show used the lesbian couple at the center of the show to explore that. Of course, the bigger issue is that this wasn't even communicated between Stef and Lena. Despite being together for a decade, Stef had no idea that Lena had always dreamed of having a wedding. Which probably means their going to tie the knot in the season finale or something.

The central couple of the show (Stef and Lena) isn't the only relationship that finds itself with drama. Lexi thinks that Jesus is ignoring her but he's really dealing with another issue. Brandon starts to make moves to normalize relations with Talia that leaves the door open for them to get back together. He first rejects concert tickets to go see his favorite band but he's convinced by Callie to go see them. As for Callie? She's able to get back together with Wyatt after the last episode had them temporarily split up over the Liam issue. She invites him to go see a silent movie, they have a nice date, and they get one step closer to being an official couple. It's all typical teen drama. There is some added adult partner drama between Stef and Mike. We learn that Stef's sexuality was not the only reason for the divorce as Mike has had a drinking problem. He seems to have taken it up again as he keeps showing up to places drunk. This creates a rift between the two of them when Mike isn't able to properly detain a car thief. When Stef gets questioned on whether he's drinking again or not, she can't answer the question which leads to Mike getting desk duty. As for Mike's reasons on why he's off his game? He's tired from all the extra shifts he has to work in order to afford the piano lessons. It's a pretty strong conflict between the two as it highlights the tensions that continued to exist between Stef and Mike. They've always been there but this is the first time we actually learn why they continue to exist beyond Mike being left out as a parent. Only he's now been able to correct that as he provides his son with the dream lessons he's always wanted. Which basically means that the tensions had to be more than that and adding a drinking problem justifies that.

You know when I realized how much I liked this show? When the cliff-hanger came and I wanted to immediately know what was going to happen next. Jesus and Mariana continue to deal with their addict of a birth mother because she keeps demanding they find a way to give her money. If this means stealing, so be it. Only the two of them are smarter than simply giving her an item. They know she's only going to use it to buy more drugs. She's trying to manipulate them to continue her habit. Jesus can't help but feel bad for her because he thinks she's stuck in an abusive relationship with a scary-looking guy. He decides to help her by trying to take her to a battered women's shelter. She would be away from him and she could really work towards being clean. The last we see of Jesus is when he goes into his mom's house. The next thing we know, Stef and Mike are going there when they figure out what's going on. The two draw their weapons, go in, and shots are fired. What happened? We have no idea because the camera never goes inside. It's a chilly cliff-hanger where anything could have happened. The writers could have shot Jesus, Stef, Mike, the birth mom, or her scary boyfriend. We have no idea...and it's never a good sign when the episode after this one is titled “Virgil” since that implies someone died.

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