Culture / Family / Media

The Fosters Roundtable: Consequently (Episode 2) FostersOnTheBeach Dampit Spoiler alert-o-rama!  These weekly Roundtables are your place for smart lesbofamily banter about the new ABC Family show The Fosters, and they’re chock-a-block with SPOILERY content.  Not so much a recap of plot points as it is chit-chat about compelling issues the episode brought up. Read no further if you want to watch the second Fosters episode and actually be surprised by what happens! After you watch it (Hulu’s got it free right now) come right back and join in!

Cast of Characters
Stef Foster – mother (police officer)
Lena Adams – mother (vice principal)
Brandon Foster – son, 16 yrs old (bio kid of Stef’s from a previous marriage)
Jesus Foster – son, 14 yrs old (adoptive, twin to Mariana)
Mariana Foster – daughter, 14  yrs old (adoptive, twin to Jesus)
Callie – “temporary” foster placement, 16 yrs old
Jude – Callie’s brother, 12 yrs old
Mike Foster  – ex-husband to Stef (police officer)

Episode Synopsis: Lena and Mike disagree about whether to punish Brandon. Elsewhere, Jesus tries to cover for Mariana and puts his health at risk in the process, while Callie gets blamed for Mariana’s transgression; and Jesus and Lexi embark on a secret relationship.  First aired: June 10, 2013

This week at the table: N and Sandra, with Polly tossing in 2¢ periodically and quite after the fact, since she was putting her kids to bed during the East Coast post-show, pre-bedtime huddle. Time zone/ parental swing shift conflict madness!

N: Well, The Fosters didn’t disappoint with its second episode. I know we usually have a few points we try to hit in these Roundtable chats, but I am stuck like CRAZY on the parenting-with-three-parents aspect..

Sandra: YES. obviously.

And then there is this One Million Moms protest (worry  not: the link opens a Right Wing Watch page! no Medusa heads on the other side!), which might be worth a mention.

Polly: You know, or not. .

N: Ugh. The less I think about the American Family Association, the better. What did you think about how The Fosters’ writers dealt with the marriage issue? I liked what they said, but am hoping they’ll delve further into it in the future. (Though I’d imagine they’re hesitant to do too much, with the Supreme Court decision on Prop 8 pending.)

Sandra: I’m sure the “Married in our Hearts” snippet resonated with many families watching. Of course the legal side is sticky, so I’m sure it will come up again.

Polly: Yes, that was a resonant statement, and also said something to me (as a Californian) about where these two were in their relationship during 2008. So many well-established, committed queer couples in CA married when we could in 2008 (18,000 of us). So when you see that Stef and Lena didn’t, it could mean one of two things, either of which would be an interesting plot thread to develop. They either had ambivalence about or a beef with legal marriage; or weren’t ready for permanent commitment as of the summer of ’08. 

Sherri Saum as Lena Adams and Danny Nucci as Mike Foster on The Fosters, Image Copyright ABC Family

Sherri Saum as Lena Adams and Danny Nucci as Mike Foster on The Fosters, Image Copyright ABC Family

N: Yeah. So! On to the part that had my wife throwing things at the television? (Yes, she really threw things at the television. Luckily, they were paper, and she doesn’t throw very well.)

Sandra: The triple threat parenting? Yes! That hit a nerve with me, too. I know when we first discussed using a known donor my biggest stipulation was that I didn’t want a third parent in the picture. It’s hard enough getting two people on the same page. Of course, many families face this- not just in the LGBT families, but blended families of all kinds.

N: Right. And has hard as it is getting three active, happy, involved parents on the same page, it’s even harder when one of them is an ex. As the child of divorced parents, a lot of this hit close to home for me, in a different way than it did for my wife.

I think one of the really interesting things in the dynamic of the Foster family is that Mike is, obviously, a parent, but only of Brandon. And how do you work parenting with three parents for one child, when the third has no say over the other two? How do you make things fair and even for all the kids?

It’s a frustrating dynamic for sure, for everybody involved, I think.

Polly: To say the least!

Sandra: It makes my head spin. What stood out to me is when Mike was (in my opinion) crossing a line in the way he was speaking about Lena to Stef and Stef didn’t shut it down. I’d like to think that I wouldn’t let someone speak like that about my partner.

N: Yeah. That was the hardest part, and the part that, I think, Lena had absolutely every right to be pissed at Stef over. (“The couch! The couch!” J shouted as we watched.) I had a hard time with the idea of Stef taking sides” as it were, but even if she agreed with Mike (which she obviously didn’t), he was way out of line in how he dealt with Lena. From following Stef home for a conversation without any warning, to his nasty statement about Stef and him being Brandon’s Mother and Father.

It was hard to watch, because I think it’s absolutely something that would’ve happened – in the heat of the moment, we all say things that we may regret later, we say those things that defend that small part of us that’s afraid. And for Mike, he’s afraid that his position as parent has been completely usurped by Lena; that he’s missed his chance to be there for Brandon. So he lashed out. Good, nice, appropriate? Not at all. But very realistic.

Of course, that’s the point at which, in a perfect world, Stef would’ve said, “Hold it right there!”

Sandra: Even before then, when Lena wasn’t around. I wanted to see Stef set boundaries with the hippie-dippie comments so that it didn’t escalate.

Polly: Like, “Dude, if you dippied half as well as she dippies, we might still be together right now! And let’s not even start with how fine her hippies are!” But Lena’s anger was sharp and hot, and well-deserved. I also appreciated that we finally got some tension between the two of them. For the first episode, my partner spent so much of the time bemoaning how perfect they seemed to be.

Sandra: I agree that all the complications provide a realistic portrayal of how this might play out. Lena’s “good time step mom” comment was perfect. I do wonder how her off-camera conversation with Mike went. Can’t it be just between her, Mike, and… us?!? (Note: I’m speaking from a verbal recap of this part, so if it doesn’t make sense let me know. )

N: Agreed – Stef could’ve at least mitigated the damage from the get-go starting with their conversation in the car. But I don’t envy her position in the least, having to deal with him at work. I’m still pissed off whenever I see them working together – one of these days I’ll get over my feeling that he bullied her into it. Today’s not that day.

Sandra: Yes. I also find it strange that her supervisor found it to be a good idea and didn’t get her input. Stef has a LOT to juggle being the mediator between them – and always having to consider how to keep peace at home and at work.

Polly: Well, and there are so many elements which, when you come down to it, exist in order to provide sufficient dramatic tension. The trick is that no one can exceed basic credulity and thus rupture the proverbial fourth wall between audience and drama, or cause us to give up on our willing suspension of disbelief.  I have no idea how beat cop staffing goes with ex-partners, but it sure makes for a convenient way to ratchet up the dramatic complications.

N: I have a feeling that, as the show goes on, that partnership is going to cause more and more drama. Ooof. I guess we’ll have to wait and see!


What do you all think? What issues struck you in this episode? DISCUSS!

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  1. Steph is a big pushover. She should have wrestled Mike to the ground in the kitchen until he showed Lena some respect. Or she should have at least said something.

    I thought this was a great second episode. So much happened and I thought they did a pretty good job with most things.

  2. Yes yes yes. Stef is in a bad position but one many many parents are in. It all tanked for her because she didn’t set a boundary in the car (or obv beforehand) and then she was caught in the kitchen. It’s a great, if infuriating, example of how not to dance in the middle. I thought the marriage snippet was interesting too. I really dislike Mike and his wimpy wimpy condescending attitude and his ugly ties.

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