A major, continuous theme in The Fosters is familial belonging. The 4th episode of The Fosters takes the idea of belonging deeper by exploring four different aspects of it. The Fosters ‘Quinceaňera ‘episode digs into the ideas of belonging to a racial group, to someone romantically, where loyalty belongs and family belonging. All these ideas coordinate to deliver the message of the emotional consequences of lack of belonging.
‘Quinceaňera’ highlights racial belonging through the development of Mariana’s party and its relation to Lena. Because Lena is biracial, and she does not feel welcomed in the white or black community, she worries that Mariana shares these feelings of isolation due to her lack of connection to her Latina heritage. Lena’s mother, Dana, furthers her feelings of ostracism by claiming Lena has an easier life because of her lighter skin. This lack of having roots in either racial community creates a barrier in Lena and her mother’s relationship. Additionally, it causes Lena feelings of segregation her entire life.
Mike’s only connection to the Foster family is his biological ties to Brandon. Otherwise, he’s as much of—or more so—a stranger to them as Callie and Jude. The reveal of Mike’s drinking problem is contributed to his feelings of being an outsider to his ex-wife and son in ‘Quinceaňera.’ He confirms this sentiment when he tells Brandon, while drunk, that he wishes he could do it all over. Mike substance abuse directly relates to lack of belonging in Stef and Brandon’s life. This idea is explored further in the season.
Mariana discovers Lexi betrayed her by dating her brother in secret. She also learns that Lexi did not defend her when Jesus calls Mariana selfish. Because Mariana feels her friends are being disloyal by engaging in their romance, she pushes them out of her life. This lack of clear definition of where Lexi’s loyalty belongs causes an emotional strain for all three of them, because of the breaking of their bonds.
Both Callie and Talya have romantic connections with Brandon, but neither of them knows whose bond is stronger for him. By the end of this Fosters episode, he makes it clear that Callie has a bigger pull on his heart. Nevertheless, Callie still cannot find where she belongs in his life. She is not his romantic interest—just yet—because there is still the possibility of them becoming siblings. This dilemma between lover, family or friend will continue to plague their relationship until Callie has a clear title in his life. Their distress over a romance potentially could ruin Callie’s placement in the Foster home, which consequently wrecks her possible safety and happiness.
The fourth episode of The Fosters shows how important acceptance and belonging is the psyche of anyone. And without it, there are emotional implications that can destroy an individual or a community.