Ms. Taco’s Take: The Complicated Relationships of ‘The Fosters’

Last Monday, ABC Family’s The Fosters showcased probably its best episode thus far in its second part of season 1. It was an episode about the death of a character who up until this episode had only appeared in 3 of the show’s 15 episodes. It’s always interesting to me when a show uses an event that would only be a minor event for its viewers to examine some of the more prominent aspects of the show. Padre was an examination of the all of the many relationships that inhabit The Fosters and an excellent examination at that.

The relationships on The Fosters have always been so rich and complicated, but things have certainly been amplified in the season 1 ‘B’ season. Since the relationships on the show have always been so intertwined, it’s hard to piece out the different aspects covered in the episode, but a big part of this second half has revolved around Callie’s relationship to the family as a whole as well as her relationships with various members of the family. So, let’s start there. For me, Callie had been pretty unlikable up until this episode, which has been frustrating but I guess on some level necessary. It’s always hard to balance this with characters. You never want them to be so unlikable that people give up on them, but you also don’t want to make them so likable that they are virtually a character with no depth. It took me a little while to realize why exactly I have disliked Callie so much this season and to my surprise it actually goes beyond the fact that I don’t buy her and Brandon as a couple. I think it is the fact that this decision to be with Brandon has taken such a toll on her relationships with Stef and Lena and with the family as a whole. Stef and Lena are pretty much the perfect foster parents. Their understanding nature has no bounds. They are not going to kick you out if you mess up. And they genuinely love all of their kids, biological or otherwise. And yet, even they are stuck between a rock and a hard place with this situation. They have been trying desperately not to give up on Callie, not just because of how important she is to Jude but because of how important she is to them. But even someone as caring as Stef and Lena are has to wonder where to draw the line. And if they’ve created the most comfortable and nurturing environment that they can and if Callie continues to sabotage every good thing that comes her way, then what are they to do? So 15 episodes in, Callie is finally able to let go of what it is that has been holding her back, and having Stef able to connect with her over not only the loss of a parent but the regret people often have over that last conversation was a beautiful scene. It was an opportunity to have the two characters who can be considered the “strongest” on the show to be vulnerable together and acknowledge how scary it is to be vulnerable when you are trying so hard to remain strong. I don’t think we’ve seen Callie in tears since the very first episode of the show and it was refreshing. With that scene, Callie is finally able to fully put her trust in this family and I was reminded of the scene earlier in the season when Mariana acknowledged to Callie that she also had a difficult time being able to trust but she was able to get there eventually.

So, while all this is great and dandy, one has to wonder where the relationship between Callie and Brandon go from here? After everything, how can they now just go from being love interests to being brother and sister? The Fosters always does an excellent job of following up on the trails that they level behind so I’m certain that this is a question that will continue to be explored for the remainder of this season and possibly into the next. As I said earlier, I have never really bought Brandon and Callie as a couple maybe because  I always just enjoyed their friendship. So, I guess the question is does the show intend to get them back to that point somehow or go in a different diretion. Only time will tell and I’m interested to see how they handle it.

Brandon and Callie are not the only couple who are dealing with strife this season. Stef and Lena in spite of being one of the best couples on TV right now have been having their share of complications, and this is not the first time the show has touched in that. Certainly, the fact that immediately after their wedding they had to begin to manage the Callie situation has created a significant amount of stress on them. But through it all, they have managed to support each other as always and try to find a balance in their home, as hard as that might be right now. So, maybe that’s why Stef is thrown for such a loop when she learns (by accident) that Lena is having thoughts about becoming pregnant. It’s mind-boggling to Stef, not only because this is potentially the worst time to be bringing a baby into the household but moreso because Lena has yet to talk to her about it. Since day 1, Stef and Lena have been such an example of what a great relationship can be that I’m thrilled to see them a little less perfect right now as they navigate this hiccup. At the end of the episode, it appeared that Stef was at least willing to consider having a baby. One of the things that The Fosters does so well is make us care about the adults as well as we care about the kids. I remember watching the original 90210 and wondering, ‘why are Jim and Cindy even on this show?’. Not the case with Stef and Lena and I for one look forward to the show examining the triumphs and complications that go along with their relationship.

Last but not least, this episode finally made some sort of resolution to Stef’s complicated relationships with her father, the character’s whose funeral was the setting for the episode and who the title Padre referred to (possibly a double meaning, Padre referring to his favorite baseball team but also the Spanish term for father). As mentioned before, Stef was grappling with the fact that her last conversation with him did not end so pleasantly. But we also know that their relationship was complicated by the fact that he was never fully able to accept that Stef is a lesbian resulting in him not attending her wedding to Lena. We learn early on in the episode that the minister who delivered the eulogy was the same minister who Stef referred to earlier in the season who had tried to convince her that being gay was a sin.  The Fosters always manages to use even its most minor of characters in creative ways, so it was a nice touch that the person who perhaps caused Stef the most guilt about herself was able to help her to resolve her regert over her relationship with her father by telling her that despite his religious views, her father had been coming to him regularly to try to make sense of his religious views coupled with his love for her. It wasn’t acceptance but it was the best she could ask for now that he is gone, and in some way it allowed Stef to let go of all of the hurt and anger she had been holding on to for years.

Well, that’s it for today. There was tons more relationship drama going on in this episode, but I think I covered the most important. The Fosters has been on fire this season, so there’s a chance there will be another posted devoted to it before the season is out. See ya next time!


One response to this post.

  1. It’s always hard to balance this with characters. You never want them to be so unlikable that people give up on them, but you also don’t want to make them so likable that they are virtually a character with no depth.

    Such a good point. I never really thought about it like this before, but you’re absolutely right that a too perfect character would just end up being dull.


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