Television Fall 2013: The Best Returning Shows (So Far) Pt. 1

Prior to the summer of 2013, I was very disappointed  in my returning favorite shows. None of them quite lived up to their past glory.  However, I am happy to say many of these shows have rebound.

A few of the shows returning to, or exceed,ing their past glory are:

The Best Returning Shows of Fall 2013 (so Far):

Once Upon a Time gets the best returning show award. I didn’t hate last season as much as some, but it just felt not quite there. However, the show seems more focused this season. It has a solid story arc goal. Because Once Upon a Time is divided into two-halves this year, the production team have given the series new life.  The season may have only had two episodes thus far, but they’ve been two of my favorites of the entire series.  I have a feeling that this season of Once Upon a Time will just get better and better. I’ve even boldly called it my favorite seasons so far on my coverage of it.

LANA PARRILLA

Once Upon a Time’s  writing, acting and overall message has been stronger than it’s ever been in the past. This season feels like it’s getting  back to the heart of the show. The strength of Once Upon a Time really falls in the reinterpretation of Peter Pan. That imagination has sparked some really  admirable storytelling.

I Know What You Did Last Summer

The Vampire Diaries and Revenge seem like the most improved showsBoth series were terrible last season. But something changed  during production this year to give both series much needed makeovers.  Nevertheless, they both still needs lots of makeup to fix their issues. The Vampire Diaries has a little too much going on to fully develop each and every storyline. Despite my general hatred for the coupling of Damon and Elena, they are not that problematic this season (at least so far). The writers have wisely chosen to focus more on the supporting characters than their romance. I’m happy to see that Matt has become a major player now that the Original vampires are gone.

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Revenge hasn’t quite accomplished regaining the fun spark it had during season 1, but, like Once Upon a Time, the 11-episodes arcs  make the episodes more focused and driven towards a big eleven episode finale. However, the show is becoming a little over the top soapy. If it can tone that down a little, it could be a great series again.

The Voice - Season 5

I’ve watched The Voice every season, but this is the only one that  I can actually say I have multiple favorite acts in the competition. Therefore, I’m more invested in the contestants than I’ve ever been. Hopefully some of them stick around long enough to keep me invested in the series.

Kathy Bates American Horror Story

One series that didn’t let me down last year, and looks like it won’t this year is American Horror Story. The new season seems just the right amount of dark, with a blend of fun in there. It’s still too early to tell if it’ll be a knock out season for the show. But I have high hopes for it.

Misfits Series 4Freshmeat 2-1The Walking Dead

Many of the shows I’m looking forward to this year have not yet  returned. A few of them include The Walking DeadMisfits and Fresh Meat. Therefore, I will do another post on the best returning series at the end of November to include other shows. I will also do reviews of each of the premiere episodes of The Walking Dead, Misfits and Fresh Meat. 

For now, I just hope that these returning series continue to improve, and don’t get tripped up by the 20, 22 or 24 episodes a season problem.

Coming Up soon…the worst new shows of fall 2013.

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Television Fall 2013: The Best New Shows (So Far) Pt. 1

The fall 2013 television season has begun. This year, like previous years, there are way too many shows competing for guts and glory. However, most won’t get glory.  And only a few will even survive. The Hunger Games season for television has left many shows on their last breath (it’s only week 3 for many of them). While a hand few are clearly becoming victors.

Here are those victors:

The Best New Shows of Fall 2013 (So Far)

To me the most intriguing, best acted and written show so far is The Blacklist.  James Spader (Red) was the selling point for me on the series. However, the writing is what keeps me tuning in each week. There is something so fascinating about a series following the destruction of super villains. Though this show isn’t a superhero one, it definite has those elements.  The characters on The Blacklist have dimensions often not shown on serial cop dramas like Law and Order. 

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The most interested thing with The Blacklist is the mystery surrounding Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). We now know her life isn’t what it seems. But what does that mean? I’m really hoping the reveal is a big pay off, and not an obvious one like  Red being her dad and her husband, Tom (Ryan Eggold), being a plant in her life.

Each week’s mystery is fun and exciting. So the show works on two levels. The first is a mystery of the week/criminal of the week show, and the second is an overall story about a woman trying to figure out her life. If the Blacklist continues on this path, it could be the best new show NBC has produced in a long time.

AgentsOfSHIELD

A Close second for me is Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D.  Because I’m a huge fan of Joss Whedon, definitely part of the cult, I had huge expectations for this show. The pilot episode didn’t quite work. It felt cheesy, awkward and didn’t really have the Whedon goodness I love. However, as the series has increased, it’s gotten better. It’s still not perfect, but I think with time it might get there. Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D has great characters, but it just needs to get its writing tighter.

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Also tied for second is Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow is what would happen if Grimm and Fringe had a baby. I’m not intrigued as much by the overall mystery/monster of the week, but I am loving the main characters. The acting is very well-done, and the one-liners warm my heart with their cleverness.

Pilot

On the comedy front, I’m surprised to say that I kind of love Mom. I didn’t expect to, but it’s one of my favorite new shows and comedies. The writing and jokes get stronger weekly. I hope that it has the staying power of lesser comedies like Two in a Half Men. Because if so, it could be a great series.

THE CW UPFRONTS 2013 Once Upon a Time In Wonderland Season 1 Episode 1-9

In the shows that could be great category is Once Upon a Time In Wonderland and The Tomorrow People. Both shows just premiered this week, so it’s hard to judge them thus far. Nonetheless, they both had really strong pilot episodes. So I have high hopes for them.

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In the shows that should have been great category is Super Clyde I saw Super Clyde a couple days ago on CBS.Com. And it was one of the best pilots I’ve seen all season. Therefore,  I’m really disappointed and surprised that CBS didn’t give it a full series. However, it does not quite work for the CBS brand, but would have been great for Fox.

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There are still a couple of series yet to premiere, and some of them  seem like they have the potential to be really good shows. Almost Human and Dracula rank high on my hopes for new fall TV  series, among a few others.  So I may do another best shows of  fall 2013 post at the end of November when all the shows have premiered.

However, generally I am happy with the new series (I’ve seen) this year. They’re definitely stronger than last year.

Coming Soon…the best returning series of fall 2013.

The Fosters Season 1 Episode 1-10 Re-watch Wrap-Up: 10 Things We Want To See Happen

To conclude The Fosters re-watch, let’s examine some storylines we want to see in the next  half of season 1.  So here are ten things we want to happen on The Fosters season 1 part 2.

JAKE T. AUSTIN, HAYDEN BYERLY, TERI POLO, CIERRA RAMIREZ, DAVID LAMBERT, SHERRI SAUM

1.  Brandon’s Growth

Brandon lacks a major ongoing storyline, not involving his feelings for Callie.  As The Fosters approaches its second half of season 1, Brandon needs his own personal development one separate from Callie.   As proposed earlier,  a good growth storyline for Brandon is one where he gets a new relationship that allows him to learn to love selflessly.   A trait that will help him later on if the show explores a relationship between Callie and him in the series.

2. Mike and Brandon Bonding

Despite their rocky relationship, we want to see Brandon bonding more with Mike, even Brandon living with Mike while he sorts out his feelings for Callie.

3. Mike’s Backstory

For an important character in the series, we know very little about Mike. We don’t even know if Foster is his last name. If it is, is that how Stef and him met? They shared a last name so they were always being paired? Has Mike’s drinking problem always been something that has affected his life? There are so many things we want to learn about Mike. Hopefully, in the next half of season 1 we start learning them.

4.  New Friends for Callie

Callie’s journey through her friendship with Wyatt, Mariana and Brandon has been nice to watch, but she needs more friends.   And not an unrealistic, convenient friendship between her and Talya.  Callie needs to expand her social life outside the Fosters’ home.

5. Wyatt Staying on the Show

Wyatt is moving to Indiana, but why not keeping him around? Maybe he realizes Callie needs him  as a friend, so he decides to finish school at Anchor Beach.  He could easily suddenly have a relative who lives there and takes him in while he attends school. Callie and Wyatt’s friendship  deserves more development. Also, there must be a scene with a funny and explosive interaction between him and Talya, especially considering their history.

6. Brandon & Callie Road Trip Adventures

After Brandon trucks on down to Indiana to drag Callie back, they go on a road trip home. Of course this trip is filled with temptation as they share hotel rooms and drive solo across country. It would give the pair  legendary romantic moments.  It may also satisfy Brallie lovers for awhile, because once they get home, their longing  goes on hold to protect Jude and Callie’s future. But while their on the road, anything can happen, and will only fuel the emotional turmoil when they return home.

7.  Lexi Stays in Honduras

Lexi and Jesus can grow more apart than together. With Lexi being stuck in Honduras, Jesus moves on . However, a twist on the season finale is that Jesus has just accepted a new love in his life and right after their kiss, Lexi shows up on his doorstep saying she’s home for good now.  Love triangles aren’t the most compelling storylines but if done right, they could be a real source of conflict.

8.  Steff Bonding with her father

There has to be something that can show Stef’s father the error of his ways, and give them another chance to bond.

9. Lena getting a school storyline

Lack of public school funding plagues many schools,and with Lena cheating to ensure Jude placement in the school, there has to be a major storyline involving the possible closing of Anchor Beach. Switched at Birth did a great similar storyline, so ABCFamily has the capacity to tackle this issue in a real, interesting way.

10. A New Love Interest for Mariana

Mariana dating a popular guy has the potential to give the show a real high school feel. It would show the consequences and rewards of being popular in school. The guy could seem shallow, but shows deeper layers later.  Fitting in is an important character flaw of Mariana’s personality, so this storyline could  further show growth, especially if she has to pick  between popularity and her family (example Callie is a target of the popular group).

Wherever The Foster goes for the second half of the season, we’re excited to take the ride with them. But any of these storylines would make us even happier to be along for the ride.

The Fosters Season 1 Episode 10: Look How Far We’ve Come

On The Fosters episode ‘I Do,’ Lena and Stef wed. This major milestone marks a  transition for the couple’s relationship and individual growth.  Specifically, the finale shows a change in Stef.  In ‘Clean’ Stef declares that marrying again is not part of her plans, but in ‘I Do’  Stef’s anxiety towards the wedding becomes apparent. However, this is not Stef’s anxiety but her father’s playing with her mentality.   The Fosters consists of an outstanding cast, but Teri Polo gives the standout performance of the season with Stef’s speech to her father in this episode.

The Fosters Episode 10-The Kiss

Stef represents one of several characters whose metamorphosis completes on ‘I Do.’ However, these characters’ growth combats with those characters who fail to grow, which presents explosive conflicts that carry on to the second half of the season.

Mariana and Jesus

Mariana’s biggest character flaw is selfishness, which showed in her interacting with Ana at the expense of her family.  By the end of The Fosters season 1 part 1, Mariana does the selfless act of revealing Lexi’s plans to go to Honduras to Jesus.

Jesus lacked self-control in the first half of this season, but by ‘I Do,’ he makes the smart decision to not have sex with Lexi again. He has completed his character transition from impulsive to cautious.

Both Mariana and Jesus have changed in positive ways, but a conflict looms for them because of  the Rivera family.   Lexi’s parents fail to learn that lying, controlling and manipulating situations will not benefit them.  Their actions presents a serious problem for Mariana and Jesus because they could lose Lexi, who for both of them represents a piece of their heart. Without her, the twins could revert back to their negative traits or develop worse ones.  We already saw signs of Mariana losing herself without Lexi. Therefore, no one knows how the lose of Lexi could negatively impact the twins in the rest of this season of The Fosters. 

Jude and Callie

Callie finally behaves selfishly by telling the truth during the Liam trial. Then she further this sentiment by kissing Brandon. This is an important development for Callie, because throughout the season she has treated her wants and desires as unimportant compared to those of Jude.

Jude battles Callie verbally in ‘I Do.’ This shows an important development in Jude, who has been scared to standup to Callie before in the series.

Callie’s selfish actions present a problem, and Jude’s speaking up for himself does as well, because of Brandon. Brandon acts as the catalyst for both of their conflicts. Without Brandon making the initial proposal to Callie about him and her, they would not have kissed. In addition, Jude would have never saw it and yelled at Callie. Brandon has not grown enough to understand that his selfish behavior has repercussions for others. Because of Brandon’s actions, Callie and Jude may lose their chance of a real home.

This episode saw  some minor characters development too. Wyatt entered the show as a bad boy, getting Callie into trouble, but on the finale, he acts as her savior in more ways than one. But being with Callie, who has reversed back to her old self, may force Wyatt to go back to some of his bad boy ways.  Another character that grows is Mike. He takes the first steps toward recovering for his alcoholism. However, we are not sure if losing his job will prohibit his further development.

In many ways, The Fosters is a show about second chances. Currently, many of the characters have learned for their past mistakes, but they will need a second shot to make things perfect in the final half of season 1.

The Fosters Season 1 Episode 9-Falling Action

The Fosters ‘Vigil,’ is the episode that really ties the family together. In this episode, we see–for the first time–all the storylines morphing into one. Prior to this, each Fosters family member has had their own separate storyline. Now, all of them come together as they deal with Stef being shot.  One of the highlights of ‘Vigil’ is learning how the original Fosters family became one, and seeing how they are transforming into a new family.

JAKE T. AUSTIN, CIERRA RAMIREZ, DAVID LAMBERT, SHERRI SAUM

‘Vigil’ is partly told in flashbacks involving Lena and Stef. We see their first encounter, meeting Mariana and Jesus, and Stef leaving Mike for Lena. Each flashback bonds us deeper with the family, and allows us to journey with them through their familial relationships developments.

In ‘Vigil’ Callie becomes more of a glue for this family. When every person has their melt down over Stef’s shooting, Callie remains rational. She tells Brandon how his behavior towards his brother and sister are unacceptable. Then she comforts both Jesus and Mariana throughout different moments in ‘Vigil.’ Callie becomes key to the emotional survive of the Fosters.  Therefore, she is an important family member.

In this episode, Jude proves the family doesn’t work without him.  Everyone notices his vacancy  from the family scenes. Then the Fosters further unite when he returns to the house.  This is demonstrated through them actually uniting on the living room floor. This scene completes solidify these people as a family.

The act of letting go of one family, and entering another, is paralleled through Stef and Callie in this episode. In the flashbacks, Stef releases Mike by revealing she is gay to him. Callie lets go of her family by disclosing her past to Brandon.  Both actions represent emotional growth and freeing of blocks that stop them from finding happiness, especially in terms of love.  Her confession to Mike allows Stef to move on with Lena, which will create the family they have now. Additionally, Callie’s reveal to Brandon grants her the possibility of adoption by the Fosters.

The final acts of the episode are symbolic and legal uniting of a family. Stef proposing to Lena legally engraves them as a family. In addition, Callie witnessing Brandon’s reunion with Talya, after she was ready to declare her like for him,  symbolically kills the idea of them becoming romantically involved. Therefore,  giving them closure on the hurdle that stops them  from becoming siblings.

‘Vigil’  acts as a beautiful final chapter before the conclusion, where the Fosters (including Callie and Jude) officially become a family. The next episode we will see steps being taking towards that, and also actions happening to disrupt the dream of becoming a family.

The Fosters Season 1-Episode 8-Foreshadowing & Speculating

The eighth episode of The Fosters foreshadows what happens in the summer finale, everything from Stef and Lena’s wedding to Mike probation over the shooting.  New viewers will not know how pivotal  ‘Clean’ is to the remainder of the first half of The Fosters season 1.  Which makes us wonder if there are other things foreshadowed in this episode to come.  So as we draw closer to the end of The Fosters rewatch, lets speculate on possible upcoming storylines hinted about in The Fosters episode ‘Clean.’

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1. “Why didn’t you have kids?”

Lena’s ex Gretchen mentions Lena wanting to give birth to a child. Lena quickly responds that she already has children. But this makes us wonder if a possible storyline for later episodes of The Fosters could involve a sixth member of The Fosters clan. Maybe Lena will try to get pregnant by using a sperm donor. This could be another revolutionary storyline handled by The Fosters. No show, that I know of (though The New Normal had a similar storyline), has shown a lesbian couple trying to have a baby through a sperm donation.

The Fosters makes sure to not classify  a family by DNA, but maybe Lena wants a biological child.  It’s a natural desire. This possible storyline allows a discussion on the logistics of gay couples going through the process of one of them giving birth.  Personally, I would like to see this storyline, but it could have just been mentioned to show Lena’s ex believing Lena was not living the life she wants. But one can dream it’s a foreshadowing of a future storyline.

2. “I don’t think I’ve  ever even had the kind of pain he’s talking about”

In this episode, Brandon’s piano instructor tells him to play with emotions.  Nevertheless, Brandon believes he does not have the feelings his instructor wants from him. However, viewers know that Brandon has a lot of pain involving his father and his feelings for Callie.  Therefore, Brandon thinking he lacks pain may be a sign of him suppressing his issues, or the writers trying to tell us something. They may be telling us that a bigger storyline (not involving Callie or Mike) will force real deep issues to surface for Brandon.

As Brandon is the only Fosters’ character that I feel lacks some emotional depth, I would love to see a more intense storyline involving him. I even channeled my creative side to offer one:

Brandon begins dating a new girl. She’s a darker, wilder, more messed up version of Callie. He dates her after Talya and him breakup, and after he gives up on dating Callie.   Brandon’s new girlfriend stays on the show for at least five episode,  which should be enough time to get fans to like her, if done right.

However, The Foster family never  completely wants Brandon and her to last. Mainly because Brandon rebels a lot because of their relationship, and even experiments with drugs, steals, etc. But he never totally loses control. However, his girlfriend does.  Eventually, Brandon turns back into the model son, and he wants his girlfriend to take a similar path. She tries to, and it even looks like she’s becoming a ‘good girl.’  Then, one episode begins with Brandon getting a calling informing him that she has died, either by suicide or drug overdose.

The Fosters has covered very dark topics, but in realistic, emotional and relevant ways. This could take the show’s impact even further by covering teen suicide or teen drug addiction. I am unsure if The Fosters plans to give Brandon a darker storyline to help his emotional growth, but I would  love to see him tackle a storyline of enormous magnitude. David Lambert is fully capable of handling the material very well. One of the best things about The Lifeguard was seeing his acting during  the suicide scene.

So maybe I’m stretching my imagination, but I hope The Fosters ‘Clean’ foreshadowed a darker, emotional storyline for Brandon, and a Lena pregnancy one for The Fosters  season 1 part 2 or season 2. They already laid a trail of breadcrumbs that they could use to justify these storylines.

The Fosters Season 1 Episode 7-The Fallout of Foster System Trauma

The Fosters episode ‘The Fallout’ deals with the literal fallout from Mariana revealing that Lexi and Jesus had sex, and some of the emotional fallout resulting from Callie and Jude being in the  foster system. Both Callie and Jude undergo journeys of healing. They do this through overcoming some of the scars left because of different foster homes. By the end of ‘The Fallout,’ they find the strength to release some of their demons.  With this blossoming they make new allies.

The Fosters Fallout

In this episode of The Fosters, Jude has an assignment with his friend Connor.  While preparing it, Connor asks Jude about his room, past and parents. Jude discloses many things, including that his dad is in prison.  At first he tries to make up a story about his father getting out of jail and being rich. When Connor reassures him it is okay to tell the truth, he does. The end of ‘The Fallout’ shows Connor and Jude’s friendship growing.

Throughout the episode, there are a few subtle signs of Jude’s emotional damage because of the foster system.  Besides his lack of confidence, he also fears being scorned or not liked. We see him afraid to ask Lena and Stef something so small as  permission for a friend to come over to the house. Then we see him frightened that Connor won’t like him. Therefore, he lies about his life. Eventually Jude becomes comfortable enough to express himself with Lena, Stef and Connor. This allows him happiness and acceptance.

Callie tells Brandon more about her relationship with Liam. At first she only gives him the basic information about how their romance progressed and their age difference. Nonetheless, by the end of the episode, she reveals that Liam raped her. By telling Brandon this, their bond grows, which allows her to approach Stef and Lena about her past. Callie has not fully let her guards down,like Jude, but she’s building stronger bonds with the Fosters. This can help Callie finally find happiness if she continues to be vulnerable with them.

The foster systems can be a hard, tough and even dangerous environment for some children. On ‘The Fallout’ we see some of the emotional implications of it. However, we also experience these characters healing from the bonds they make with this new family.  The pain they feel can be healed by loving and allowing themselves to be loved.

The Fosters Season 1 Episode 6-Love and Religion

Before The Fosters premiered,  the One Million Moms group called for a protest of the show by advertisers because, they claimed the series tries to ‘redefine marriage and family with two moms raising these children together.’ With such a strong reaction from a religious group, you may assume the creators would portray religion and religious groups in a negative manner.   However, on The Fosters  ‘Saturday’ episode, the series represents the two sides of religious extremes in a honest, tolerant way. The Fosters Saturday On ‘ Saturday,’  Frank Foster represents the intolerant side of the religious debate on gay marriage. Stef’s father shows a man who intensely follows the teaching of the church and bible. So much so that he never fully accepts his daughter’s homosexuality.

On this episode, Stef reveals that her father  tried to scare her about her sexuality before she even defined it. He sees being gay as a choice his daughter made, not as part of her imbedded DNA. Frank is not categorized as a horrible man, but one who cannot understand anything beyond his religious beliefs.  If anything he is shown as a sad, lonely man.  By The Fosters not using this episode to make judgmental, religious individual monsters,  they show that acceptance of those who don’t accept you is a better method of combat than slander.

Lexi’s parents,  Sonia and Ernie Rivera, demonstrate the more understand side of the religious debate on gay marriage.   They take religion just as serious as Frank, but they do not see anything wrong with Stef and Lena’s relationship. Ernie even says ‘what’s more Christian than family.’  They  comprehend that the bible has room for interpretation.

Nonetheless, Sonia and Ernie are not portrayed as perfect people either. They are close-minded to teen sexuality and  delusional about Lexi’s behavior.  The Fosters carefully displays that just because someone is comfortable with homosexuality, they are not flawless individuals. The series equally gives all the characters saint and sinner traits, no matter  where they side on the gay marriage debate.

The Fosters ‘Saturday’ highlights that being extremely religious and open-minded does not make you an angel, nor does being extremely religious and close-minded make you a demon.  Either characteristics will make you a human with negative and positive traits. The show once again handles a hot button topic with  passion and forgiveness.

Additional information:  If you want to read more about the One Million Mom protest, you can find it here. 

The Fosters Season 1 Episode 5- Wear Blue for Jude

The Fosters (2013) episode ‘The Morning After’ contains many memorable moments. One in particular involves Jude and Lena discussing identity.   During her speech, Lena assures Jude that he deserves no shame for his differences. The ones who should feel ashamed are those who judge others. This defines one of the major messages in ‘The Morning After’ about self-acceptance. This episode of The Fosters revolves around the idea of self-expression sparking fear and loathing, but being a necessary step towards loving oneself.

The Fosters The Morning After

The Jude and Lena scene–which is one of my favorite moments so far on The Fosters–can be viewed below.

Though ‘The Morning After’ highlights other characters facing fears about self-expression, like Mariana, Brandon, and Wyatt to a lesser degree, Jude’s blue nail polish storyline is the most relatable.  As children, we experiment with different forms of changing our looks, and sometimes that means dressing outside of gender specific norms. Doing this can often lead to bullying.   Many children would fear having the gay label placed on them for this sort of behavior. However, the writers tenderly do not classify Jude as gay for his actions.

Wearing dresses or makeup does not make a little boy gay nor does it may a  little girl straight. The child may later identify as gay, but their activities as a kid should not force them to declare their sexuality. The Fosters’ writers executes the concept of Jude being a child who may later be defined as gay, but for now is just one who likes blue nail polish.  Too often society tries to label children before they are ready to label themselves. The Fosters shows that it’s okay to like something and not have it define you.  Jude overcomes his fear of the being bullied because of the polish  (by accepting Mariana putting the nail polish on him),  which grants him the ability to find a family not trying to categorize him in any way (shown by members of the Fosters being okay with him painting his nails).

Originally, Jude’s fear prohibits him from expressing himself. However, Lena’s speech gives him the freedom to allow this part of himself to shine. This then leads to his friend Connor showing support by wearing the nail polish too.  Through his self acceptance, Jude  finds peace and happiness, and people that really accept him.

Jude’s story is a minor one in this Fosters episode, but it represents a globalized issue of feeling fear about being oneself because of societal norms. Nonetheless, by letting  go of fear and showing individuality, people discover those who love their differences.

The Fosters Season 1 Episode 4–It’s Not Where You Come From…

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.

JAKE T. AUSTIN, CIERRA RAMIREZ

‘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.