Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Fosters

The Fosters
Episode 10: I Do
By: Carlos Uribe

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

Spoilers Ahoy!

There are three different types of decisions a character can make on a television show: a good decision, a bad decision, and a stupid decision. A good decision is smart, logical, and the right choice to make in the situation. It's the one we credit to smart characters and are the ones that the audience are going to like the most. It's possible for these decisions to backfire down the road but it was the right call at the time. A bad decision is very similar to a stupid one as they are very similar and are frustrating to the audience. A stupid decision is made not because the character is necessarily stupid but because they had to make a call depending on where the writer wanted to take the plot. It's where the plot drives the character to the point where their making what is obviously the worst choice. It drives viewers mad because it reduces the character's intelligence and it's weak writing as it sacrifices the character's integrity for the sake of the narrative. A narrative that is ironically weakened by the soft characters. A bad decision is when a character makes it because that's where they are. They make it because they actually think it's the best choice. It's driven by who they are rather than what the plot needs. I Do is an episode with all three kinds of decisions. It's a good decision by the family to decide to adopt Callie and Jude at the beginning. It's a bit disappointing that we don't actually see them arrive at this conclusion but it's painstakingly obvious they were going to go there. It's a bad decision when Callie decides to kiss Brandon. The two have had an attraction that was becoming more and more difficult to resist. You can yell “no” but the kiss happened because the two characters had been going there. It would have been a cheat to back out of it. The stupid decision was Callie deciding to run away. It makes little sense and it seems like it was done so that the episode could have a strong cliff-hanger. I just don't buy that's what Callie decided to do. So, yes, Callie kissed Brandon after being told she was going to be his sister. She ran away because Jude caught them and made her aware of the consequences of her action. She's not the only one who will be affected because her little brother is a package deal. We know the stakes, we know why she shouldn't do it, but we understand she can't help herself. Running away? That...just doesn't seem right to me.

The ending aside, just about everything else in this episode was just about right. Stef and Lena have a wedding ceremony this week. Their moms are in town, who try their best to help, while Stef is driven crazy. She uses words that seem to indicate that she doesn't actually believe in going through with marrying Lena. She belittles the wedding to the point where Lena can't help but get offended. Stef realizes that the reason she hasn't been able to completely accept she's getting married is because of her dad's beliefs. She disinvites him from the wedding unless he is willing to accept that it's going to be legitimate. He can't but the wedding is able to proceed fine. Stef and Lena tie the knot, they say their vows, and the show is able to comment on the Supreme Court ruling from earlier this summer. It's a bit surprising they were able to get that in there considering the time difference it actually takes to air the episodes and the shooting. There is an answer for this: they were shooting this episode the same day the rulings came out. It's a nice story to tell and it helps keep the episode relevant. I also think that Lena's dad was well-cast. Stefen Collins is most famous for his role as preacher Eric Camden on 7th Heaven so it's a bit nice to see him perform the ceremony. There is something awfully symbolic about that. It makes sense for this part of the season to end with a gay wedding: there would be something odd about the Foster's progressive spirit if it didn't do it. Just as nice was that Stef does have a parent who is okay with her lifestyle. Stef's mom might drive her crazy but at least she can provide the emotional support the dad can't. This simply was made up of good decisions.

At the same time of the wedding, the rape story culminates in the case getting dismissed. There is no actual evidence that it took place. Callie never took a rape kit, there are no witnesses, and she had waited for several years before coming forward. It looks worse for her that she was in juvie as it damages her credibility. The district attorney actually wanted her to lie to state that it was consensual so that he could at least get the kid on statutory rape. There's some scenes where Callie actually thinks this over but she eventually decides that she can't lie. The only thing she has left is her own dignity and she can't give that up. She sticks with her story, the case gets thrown out, and Liam is set free. I have a feeling that this isn't the last we heard of it. That's not the only case that gets dealt with in this episode. Mike is afraid of losing his job because of the testimony by the twin's mother. He thinks it was a clean shoot and is surprised to find from Stef that it wasn't. Of course, she realizes that he thought he was doing the right thing so she hasn't said anything but he doesn't want her to come forward. He thinks that this new testimony would only cause her to lose her job since it would look like she was trying to lie for her partner. It's very interesting that the plots have something similar: people lying or telling the truth is essential. The two were handled right and I'm left wondering what's going to happen next. It's a bit disappointing that the rape case was dismissed but here's hoping there's better results when it comes to Mike's career.

If you ask me what the best new show of the summer was, I've got to go with the Fosters. It might not be perfect but I've fallen in love with the Foster family. It's a relevant show that tackles issues that most shows wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. The way it handles race, sexuality, and other hot-topic issues and the way it relates to the characters has created a lot of compelling drama. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the show's ratings have been rising since it first premiered as I imagine this is the kind of show that the target demographic are going to want to watch because it speaks to them. It's a progressive show that's really all about accepting people for who they are despite the difficulties of the real world. It helps that all of the characters are relatively strong and that the narrative is intelligent. This is a show where a simple decision in one episode can have severe ramifications down the line. That the writers have been able to craft a smart narrative has been able to make The Fosters the must-watch show of the summer.

The Fosters is the best new show of the summer. There really is no question in my mind about that. I Do is a finale that works on so many levels. The way it tackled the wedding was strong because it focused on how Stef's opinions about it were negatively influenced by her father. The rape case has a disappointing result but it's unlikely that's the last we'll hear of it. The shooting case threatens Mike's career as a great dangling plot thread. Callie running away is a bit disappointing but her kiss with Brandon was greatly executed. All in all, I Do didn't have the best ending but everything before it was top-notch.

Other Notes:

This is likely the final review for the Fosters. As much as I've grown to love this show, I doubt I'll have time to cover it if it comes back during the regular season. This blog likely won't continue next summer as I'm going to want to concentrate on writing when I'm done with college.

Lexi is being written out as her family is moving back to Honduras permanently. Looks like her threat to have them all deported was all for nothing. I thought the series was also writing Wyatt out by sending him to Indiana at the beginning. While this is true, it was also to set up Callie going with him towards the end.

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