Culture / Family / Media / Parenting

The Fosters Roundtable: The Morning After (Episode 5)

 

CIERRA RAMIREZ, DAVID LAMBERT, JAKE T. AUSTIN, TERI POLO, SHERRI SAUM, MAIA MITCHELLSpoiler alert-o-rama!  These weekly Roundtables are your place for lesbofamily banter about the new ABC Family show The Fosters, and they’re chock-a-block with SPOILERY content.  You’ve been warned! 
Episode Synopsis: Passion takes Jesus and Lexi by surprise, and soon they realize there may be consequences. Meanwhile, Brandon objects to Callie’s budding romance with Wyatt; Stef and Lena’s friends hit a snag in their relationship; and school bullies target Jude. First aired: Jul 1, 2013
List of characters: Back at our first few Roundtables. Here’s the one for the Pilot.
This week at the table: N & Sandra & Polly all in the same place (online chat) at the same time!

 


 

FostersEp5Featured

Teri Polo as Stef, and Sherri Saum as Lena, attempt to find time in their busy working parent schedules to pencil in some long overdue AHEM. [Blurry low-production values TV screen cap of ABCFamily show The Fosters]

Sandra: Okay, before we get started: in the background at my house over here, everyone is talking to me at once and there are like five thousand things happening (full baby diaper! spilt milk!) and it reminds me of that line in this episode (following a moment of teen-induced chaos) where Stef mutters under her breath “What is happening??” Because that is the mantra of my freaking life.

Polly: Poop! Milk!

N: On a cheerier note (or maybe along those lines): I loved the plot line of the prevalence of Lesbian Bed Death, and how to counter it. “If you have to think about it, it’s been too long,” says Lena. When Stef started going on about all of the things they’re doing and how busy they are, and she got to housekeeping, I said a little prayer of thanks that our house is so messy. 😉

Polly: “Say a little prayer for me.”  Apropos the housework, by the way: for the first time, I was able to watch the show (on iTunes, after midnight the day it aired) with my beloved. Right before they got to that part, at the beginning of that scene, my partner said, “Oh yeah, THAT happens. They sit on the bed in their pajamas and fold the laundry together.” The sarcasm that was dripping off that remark made a puddle in my bowl of popcorn. [*cough* hardly ever folds the laundry *cough* however does cook really well *cough*]

N: But in all seriousness, I thought it was a really good look at the things that keep couples connected, and how they can get lost in the craziness of building a family.

Polly: Their going to their smartphones to schedule canoodling was so very 21 c. working parent. Rang true. And the interesting thing? It makes for a very very cunning (!) way to elide direct lesbosex, the way The Kids Are Alright  (TKAA) managed that. Here, the young (hetero) people have the crazy sex stuff (Jesus gets WAY more screen time hopped up on hormones than anybody else right now), but it’s not untrue, either, about the married old couple with kids sex life. Sneaky. And maybe a way to hook the old married hetero viewers with the same chuckles of recognition.

N: Right. I was a bit concerned at the beginning, about the contrast between all the youngins getting the nookie and the parents getting none, but was really glad that they didn’t just [arbitrarily] put it out there – instead, working through why it happens, and then showing that it’s not necessarily a death knell to be old and married.

Sandra: I think it’s pretty universal. I know our community is known for LBD, but anyone with five teenagers would have a hard time finding time to connect. I appreciate that they took it beyond the sex, too with the guac gesture.

Polly: I loved that. She’s saintly because her only transgression is guac amnesia.

Oh, and: lesbians in their house! I wanted to call that out. Mrs. Dad’s only complaint about the series, after catching up on the first four episodes, was the lack of queer folk in their lives. And then: BAM! First scene! She was all: “O my god lesbians! No, really! Lesbians! In their kitchen!”

Sandra: Yes! I found it so strange that the quinceañera didn’t have more LGBT friends in attendance.

N: Yes! I was glad to see more lesbians show up! Even if the main Guest Friends were on the verge of breakup.

Polly: Which, beautifully, makes this, like TKAA, unafraid to look at everything. It’s a huge step to take, to just make art without caving into the burden of representing the community in the light most attractive to bigots, or even the much-ballyhoo’ed “moveable middle.” But instead, most truthful to all of us. A delicate line to walk, for sure. But a brave one.

N: Absolutely.

Polly:  And another high point: Noah St. John! [The young man guest starring as Garrett, the soon-to-be-breaking-up parents’ teenage kid.]  And aren’t they savvy to not just find him via social media (no doubt), but weave him into the story line.

Sandra: Serious props for that.

Polly: Srsly. Also, Hey Berkeley hey! </gratuitous-shoutout>

Sandra: The link you sent? The NPR one? So wonderful.

[Here it is below, the uncut version of Noah St. John’s piece “The Last Mile,” a shortened version of which he performed on the show.]

 

N: I am, in general, not into that kind of poetry scene, but it gave me goosebumps. And when I found out he’d written it himself… so impressed.

Polly: Which says something about the producers’ ear to the actual community,right? I mean: that’s where they’re looking, not up their own arses. Not to be crass. But it says something to me as a community member.

N: Absolutely. I think it’s been shown, in general, through their depictions of the characters. But this really hit a home run.

Polly: Agreed. I have to say, every episode in, I move from really liking this show to wondering if I actually love it. Warts [in the form of lesser performances] & all.

Sandra: I have a confession: I did NOT have high expectations for this show.

N: I didn’t either. I had hopes, but also fears.

Polly: Yup. Chalk me up to the hopes/ fears column.

Sandra: I planned on watching because – whoa, lesbian family – whoo. I mean, heck, I watched EVERY episode of the last season of The L Word. But I am consistently impressed with the authentic representation of the intersection of issues they are trying to represent. I mean, that’s not easy, and they aren’t perfect.

N: It’s really not easy. But, for all the issues I have with the show, representation is not one of them.

Sandra: But it’s not cheesy or glossing over too lightly on the hard stuff.

Polly: Right. And remember: the format constrains so much. It’s almost like haiku. It takes episode after episode to have an opportunity to develop characters, weave in backstory, show the truthfulness of a contradictory personality.

N: Oh, absolutely!

Polly: And don’t you all think this is brilliant, having teens at the center of the story? With these hella hot mamas very close parenthetical brackets around them?

Sandra: Yes – thank you Jesus (!) for having a zillion young people glued to the screen every week.

Polly: Totally. Folks who are teens now are going to be the ones who are going to bring our civil rights battles home/ get the job done. As voters & policy makers.

N: Absolutely. But then, I’ve always been the type to feel that getting people to understand and connect is through showing how families are the same, instead of emphasizing the differences.  Folks watch the show and see normal teenagers (well, TV-normal!), who happen to have two moms.

Polly: Hey, what’dja-all think of the Lena/ Jude fingernail scene(s)? His older sister’s protectiveness, Lena’s finessing the paradoxical truths about exposure and risk and bravery? And his lil buddy coming around? Verklempty, no?

N: I confess, it made me a little wibbly – in a good way.

Sandra: I wasn’t sure it was going in the right direction at first…

N: I’d had a hard time watching Callie yell at him to take it off, even though I know she was doing it with his safety and love for him in mind.

Polly: Great, right? Keep us nervous for a bit! Hold the cards close to the chest.

Sandra: And oh, how it cut me when he said, “I already hurt.”

N: So then to lead into the conversation with Lena, like you guys, I was nervous at first.

Polly: BAM! I know. He is the wee Ashley Judd truth-teller.

N: He really is.

Polly: Please let her be a guest star! (Maybe she’s their birth mom, out of rehab! Or their estranged auntie? Hey, Idina Menzel can pop up on Glee, it can happen. )

N: But Lena’s whole speech really rang so true to me, and perhaps it was a wee bit “clue x four” as we say in our house [a pun on 2 x 4, for overly-direct point-making], but I can’t say I didn’t love hearing every word of it said on national television.

Sandra: I know my own (and many well-intentioned) loved ones have said things that were meant to protect me, but cultivated shame unintentional.

Polly: So did Lena get deep/ true enough? Elide anything important? Oversimplify?

Sandra: I think it’s in line with their (good) track record of showing complexity – good intentions not always lining up with perfect actions. Stumbling to find and support each other the best way each character knows how.

N: I’m just overwhelmed by the desire to paint my nails blue!

Sandra: I can’t believe we haven’t talked about the morning after pill fight! [Fortunately, ABC has talked about the morning after pill itself on their issue-tie-in post: The Morning After Pill.]

Polly: OMG morning after pill fight! Which was basically a non-fight, given how cheeky a transgression Stef made, tactically wise though it may have been.

I think that can be their next big battle: claws-out smack-down betw/ Stef & Lena. They are still a bit Ozziet and Harriet, but that’s OK by me for a while. Especially also because they are H-O-T-T double T hot. [Ahem, in case she reads this: not as hot as MrsDad, but aaaaalmost!]

Sandra: I actually love the way they fight. They actually argue, but fight well. “Not productive!” That is so familiar – ha!

N: I love their fights, too, because they’re so very lesbian. SO MUCH PROCESSING

Polly: ALL THE PROCESSING.

N: I had to laugh when they processed how they dealt with confronting Jesus about sex.

Polly: Note to future self, parent of teens: CONDOMS IN THE BATHROOM.  My partner & I looked at each other and hiked up our eyebrows simultaneously. Brilliant parenting move!

Sandra: Yes! I was glad they recapped what they had done to prepare for this situation. They didn’t disappoint.

Polly: You know what I want to evolve? More chemistry between them. Maybe it’s my NorCal point-of-view, but it’s harder for me to read the chemistry with such fem2fem energy.

N: It’s not your NorCal POV. But I’ve been comparing it to other shows on the network, and am at least relieved that it’s about the same as all the grown-ups’ relationships on shows with Icky Grownup Parents.

Sandra: Only queerer.

 


So what did you think? Pull up a chair and tell us!

 

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  1. I loved the NPR story slam piece originally but the shortened version they worked into the episode felt weak and lacking in emotional energy. Made me sad.

  2. Sadly, I agree. Having watched the viral video some time back, I was all: “Is that… is that that guy?!” when I first saw him. And then when the plot details were being laid down, I was all: “Wow! They’re setting him up for his rockstar prizewinning poetry slam piece!!” But I didn’t know how many of the maaaaany, looooong, 6+ minutes they’d include.

    Which of course are all perfect, in performance. But, alas, an eon in the context of the pacing of a 45 minute TV drama.

    Still, FWIW, I got goosebumps on the crazy-fast Reader’s Digest abridged version, too.

  3. I already hurt was my favorite line yet. So true.

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