There is a reason why The Fosters is one of the best family dramas on television.
The Fosters Season 4 Episode 15 is a prime example of what the show looks like when it’s at its best. Bold, relevant, and fearlessly tackling real life, occasionally controversial, issues with grace, tact, and without being too preachy.
When the show is at the top of its game, it gives us thought-provoking television, representative of the diverse world that we live in. It makes us invested in the family, so much so, that we feel like we're a part of it ourselves.
And the best part is, regardless of our differences, it's plausible that we could be part of this family.
Sex-Ed was probably one of the most balanced installments of the season. It slowed down on the overly dramatic angst fest on steroids, that has been prevalent, and gave us simple family drama that packed just as powerful of a punch.
Plus, it touched on all the characters and all the different storylines, without once excluding or diminishing anyone’s struggles. That can be a near impossible feat, and yet it was done effortlessly.
The biggest issue that was addressed was Emma’s pregnancy. The best thing they could do, was address her decision, and then resolve it all within a few minutes. Some may not like how it was covered, but I do.
Emma: Do you think I should feel bad?
Emma: Really? Because doesn't that make me a cold-hearted bitch if I don't feel bad? Then, if I do feel bad, then why am I doing this? I must be wrong, right?
They didn’t turn it into a “very special episode” on abortion. They didn’t drag it out. It was understated and quiet but no less impactful. If anything, that made it even more so.
She sat in the waiting room and weighed her choice. She was serious, thoughtful, and nervous. Brandon being there as a support (and the only one who knew the truth at the time) was perfect.
When Brandon's less flattering traits aren’t rearing their ugly head, Brandon can be so thoughtful and considerate.
He was there to comfort her and make her feel better about her choice, even while acknowledging that he doesn’t quite know how he'd feel if it was him. All he knew was that he isn’t ready to be a father and he knows Jesus isn’t either.
Handling the abortion storyline the way they did, made the focus less about the actual act, and more about the aftermath. As it should be. It was a smart decision to make, and it made a character who can come across high-strung, more sympathetic.
Jesus: Why don't you two just get a room?!
Emma: What are you talking about?
Jesus: What, you think I'm stupid? You're screwing my brother!
Emma and Brandon: That's not true!
It is truly unfortunate that Jesus is reading more into Brandon and Emma’s relationship. His jealousy and insecurity is only exasperated because he senses that they’re keeping something from him, and they are.
I was curious as to when he would finally come out with it, and he finally did with another outburst, accusing not only them of sleeping with each other, but moms of knowing. It took Emma refusing his sexual advances to set him off.
It’s not just that she’s had a procedure done, but he’s still recovering and she’s probably terrified of another pregnancy scare, especially after finding out it happened because of her anxiety herbs and birth control canceling each other out.
It won’t be long before Jesus and the others find out about the abortion. I mean, Mariana knows, and Mariana is the worst at keeping secrets.
Brandon: Mariana, it's none of your business. For once in your life, just stay out of it.
Mariana: Oh my God, Emma's pregnant? She's pregnant, isn't she? She's pregnant!
Brandon: No, she isn't pregnant...anymore.
Mariana's anonymous account where she divulges secrets in an effort to be more open, is going to backfire. It’s one thing for it to backfire on just her, but she’s sharing other people’s secrets and that is seriously messed up.
She did make some progress being more open with her mother. It was a sweet scene watching her admit that she felt frozen and powerless when Nick was in her room.
The best moments are those when the moms spend some individual quality time with one of the kids. It’s even better when it’s a pairing that isn’t shown as much. The moms tend to connect and handle some kids better than others.
Stef and Mariana are so different. Lena accurately pointed that out when Stef took the wrong approach trying to teach her self defense.
Lena: She's [Mariana] not you okay? She didn't play with G.I. Joe's, she grew up wearing princess dresses and wanting to live in a castle.
Stef: Okay, I find that a little sexist, Lena, I got to be honest, you know? Even princesses can learn to fight.
Lena: Agreed, but you don't teach them the same way you teach a Marine.
Stef: Fine. No problem. I'll go talk to her, happy? [mutters under breath] Stupid princesses.
God, I love Stef. I was clutching my stomach I was laughing so hard, when Stef jumped from behind the trees and then rolled her eyes over the princess thing.
Lena’s hands were full dealing with Callie and Jude.
And of course Monte, who reminded us how godawful she is throughout the hour. Honestly, can we be free of Monte? She is the reason a person comes home from a long day at work with sore face muscles from fake smiling for the sake of professionalism.
Callie’s senior project (the one I thought we’d never see) was an art installation and it was breathtaking and powerful.
Callie being able to make a statement without doing something reckless was so gosh damn refreshing. See, Callie? It's possible.
We were even graced with sincere gratitude from Brandon's ex-girlfriend, Talia.
Can they bring Talia back more often? It would be fantastic to see Callie having a gal pal, she hasn’t in some time. And if it means less inappropriate time with Aaron, so be it.
I don't have a question, more of a comment. I always thought, like most people, that if someone got arrested or went to jail, then they probably did it or did something bad. But innocent people get locked up, and I don't think there is any justice, if we just put blind faith in the system. So, thank you for opening my eyes. This is really amazing art, and you're very brave for sharing everything that happened to you.Talia
Talia loved it so much she and the other seniors were willing to fight against the administration for making Callie take it down .
Because of course Monte and her new side-kick wanted the controversial piece gone before the open house. Monte is the worst.
I was surprised (and pleased) that Callie didn’t initially put up much of a fight, because the girl just has to learn how to choose her battles, yes, but it allowed others to fight for her.
By the time she came up with a clever way of technically being off campus but still having the piece up (suck it, Monte!) I was stoked. The professor recommending that Callie apply to art school was just the cherry on top.
Then Robert gave Callie the disappointing news. Troy, ever the spiteful jerk that he is, refused to take the settlement. So now Callie has to go trial.
That’s how you drop a bomb. We were given an entire hour of quality family drama that didn’t feel so heavy-handed that it’s impossible to process each moment before being hit with the next one. It was such a normal installment, and then we were hit with the news at the end.
Troy Johnson won't take the settlement deal. We tried everything we can; he won't take money. So we're going to trial.Robert
It hit the mark, making the viewer sympathize with Callie after she spent the day standing in her truth, being accepted for it, and potentially facing a bright future as a result, only to be knocked down at the end.
Callie wasn’t the only one eliciting sympathy. Jude had an absolutely fantastic arc, too.
It’s a pity that some of us have the luxury of not noticing the disparity in something like a sex-ed course. It hurt my heart seeing Jude feel so out of place during a health discussion about sex, because naturally the school only deems it fit to focus on heterosexual sex.
Jude: Why don't they talk about gay sex?
Lena: I guess because it's controversial.
Jude: Why? I mean, we have gay rights and we have marriage equality. So why don't we have gay sex-ed?
Lena: You're right, we should.
But what about everyone else? What’s the point of trying to he informative if you're not informing an entire demographic how to engage in safe sex, or engage in it at all?
I recall, reading a friend’s text book that took time to discuss STD's amongst gay men (Yes, it was that outdated and discriminatory), but didn’t acknowledge anything else pertaining to the LGBTQ community.
Why a friend's health textbook that may or may not have been a decade old you might ask? Because the only thing I was taught at my particular school was abstinence.
Everything I learned about sex came from discussions with my mother, reading on my own time, internet, and media.
So, I couldn’t even fault Jude for taking to the internet and phone apps. My heart broke for him, but I was so afraid of what would happen after lying about his age and meeting a stranger. It doesn’t matter your age or sexual orientation, that’s so dangerous and inadvisable.
Jude is a teenager and he’s getting pretty serious with Noah. They already nearly had sex once. Noah is more experienced than Jude, so of course he wants to be prepared.
That shouldn’t be considered asking for too much. So it sucks that the school refuses to teach a more inclusive sex ed course.
Lena shouldn’t have to basically lure kids off campus in their free time just so they can be informed.
Because honestly, there is still no guarantee that the kids still in the closet, or too embarrassed, will attend. If it was discussed right along with the rest of it everyone regardless of their sexual orientation would learn.
I wanted to reach through the screen and hug Jude when he finally talked to moms and admitted that he doesn’t have anyone to ask. A teary-eyed Hayden Byerly was amazing during that scene.
Stef: Why did you go there in the first place, bud?
Jude: Because I didn't know what to do...for sex. They don't talk about it in health, and I don't have anyone to ask.
Private and charter schools can be such a hassle, because these are the types of issues that too many of them refuse to tackle, because they fear losing funding and making waves.
Brandon has been making me proud recently. He’s a bit lost at the moment, but I believe this musical therapy thing might just work for him.
He was a bumbling mess in the therapy room, and it’s clear he has little experience working with Autistic kids, but he managed to make little Ollie laugh which was progress for the kid. He even got a happy mom hug. Those are the most rewarding ones.
Music therapy suits him. He gets to use his musical skills and also help others, which is something he more or less is decent at doing.
I only hope that his relationship with the therapist stays platonic. I absolutely adore her though.
Uh, poor AJ am I right? He was the victim of a classic trope. The one where someone spills the beans about something that you’re personally invested in because it pertains to you, so you should have known already.
It happened twice. Clearly Mariana gets the gift of blabbing from her birth mother's family.
Something tells me AJ won’t feel so torn about choosing between Mike adopting him and staying with Ty when he’s released.
To his credit, he is well within his rights to assume that Mike only wants to adopt him so that Ana can move in. Up until now, I thought the exact same thing.
Mariana: Hey! Heard you're getting a new roommate. Hope she doesn't keep you up all night.
Mariana: Isabella? Ana and Isabella are moving in with you guys, right?
AJ: Where'd you hear that?
Mariana: My cousin told me.
AJ: First I'm hearing about it.
C’mon, Mike. AJ should not be the last person to find out what’s going on in his own home with matters that concern him! Now Mike is in the doghouse with both Ana and AJ.
Ana, because he came across flaky and non-committal, before just telling her that her felony is what had him reconsidering.
And AJ, because he didn’t tell him about Ana potentially moving in, nor did he tell him that he wants to adopt him because he loves him. AJ is under the impression it’s the only way Mike can move in with Ana.
Whew! That was a good one. I’ll turn it over to you guys.
What did you think of the episode? What were your thoughts on how they chose to handle Emma’s pregnancy? Will Mariana's "secrets" Twitter page be found out? Did you think Callie would have to go to trial? Should sex ed be more inclusive? Sound off below!
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Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.