“The Fosters” Episode 101 Recap: Fosters, I Barely Know Hers!

The Fosters opens with a shot of a prison and that’s how we know it’s going to be a lesbian show! Okay – it’s not really a prison but a juvenile detention center but as the show takes us inside to girls in jumpsuits it pretty much has the same feel. Then, there is mention of a confrontation in the showers and then punching and kicking happens. The punchee and kickee is Callie who is obviously one of the main characters because the camera focuses on her.

Where's Peggy Peabody when you need her?

Where’s Peggy Peabody when you need her?

We then take a sharp thematic turn and visit a piano competition, where some teenager in a suit and sneakers plays piano while a blond cop watches from the audience. I might add that the piano thing is very poorly attended which while establishing two main characters also makes a deep and biting commentary on the state of the arts in this country. Not really – it’s just an audition. The cop’s phone rings and we know it’s Lena because the iPhone product placement tells us so but the cop doesn’t answer it because she has good cell phone manners and is a lover of the arts.

We travel back to the Prison for Wayward Girls where some guy named Bill tells Lena about Callie, “She’s been having a few issues with male authority figures of late.” and Lena says, “And that’s why you thought of us.” Because they are just two ladies, get it? Bill explains that Callie ended up in juvey after a property damage situation with her last foster family and Lena is all, “Ooooo…my wife will not be happy if I bring home a violent kid” and Bill is like, “She’s not really violent even though she just appeared before us with a split lip and a face full of bruises!” Lena and Callie make meaningful eye contact and Callie tears up and gives puppy eyes and no lesbo can resist puppy eyes so we know that Lena is bringing Callie home.

In the next scene, we meet the rest of the kids as they all bustle about getting ready for dinner. First we meet, Mariana and Jesus who have been with Lena and Stephanie for eight years.

Digression 1: I would like to talk about their kitchen for a moment. It is very tidy and I envy that but the more exciting reveal is that we have the same drinking glasses! Lesbian Moms love William-Sonoma Bistro Glasses!

How to Set a Big Lesbeaux Dinner Table

How to Set a Big Lesbeaux Dinner Table

Anyway, Callie goes to the bathroom and Lena tells Mariana and Jesus that she is working on a meeting with their birth mom. She is very excited about this and they are not. We then enter the bathroom where Callie is crying into the mirror and there are lots of artsy shots of the water pouring into the sink. Usually, when you have that many shots of water in a white sink, there’s going to be blood but thankfully this is not a horror movie and the water shots are pointless.

Callie goes back into the kitchen and the Piano Man enters. Not Billy Joel – the one from earlier with the suit and sneakers (though Billy Joel may have worn that as well). Callie says, “How’d ya get him? 99 cent store? They have everything there.” And with that little statement, I decide I want Callie to come live with me in my untidy kitchen and drink from my bistro glasses. The Piano Man is actually named Brandon. Then Stephanie the Cop Mom comes in looking very coppy with her uniform and swagger and she says “Hi babies” and I melt a little bit because I say that to my kids all the time. Then, she and Lena kiss like real lesbian moms do —  briefly, because you always have an audience. Callie then says, “So you’re dykes.” Somehow she manages to say it without sounding completely judgmental so I’ll still allow her to use my bistro glasses.

we prefer the term "badass bitches," but whatever

we prefer the term “badass bitches,” but whatever

Then, she makes a comment about Brandon being the “real son” and that goes over less well than the dykes thing so no more bistro glasses and lesbian lasagna for you Callie!

Digression 2: Steph looks haggard and I like that because I look like that most of the time. People with children look haggard! Realism!

Lena explains to Steph who Callie is and then they go outside to have some quality lesbian processing time about Lena bringing home a kid. Eventually, Steph tells Lena she understands she has a big heart and Lena says, “Oh mushy. I’ll have to bring kids home more often.” And then I want Lena to come live with me too. Then, Steph says they are not the Brady Bunch but, when she says that, you know that’s exactly what we are supposed to think – “modern day Brady Bunch!”  just hope there isn’t a Jan because she was always the most irritating of the Brady children with Cindy running a close second.

Steph the Cop Mom lays down the rules for Callie who interrupts her and, not surprisingly, Steph is not a big fan. Callie then leaves to have a heart to heart with Lena but then Steph the Cop Mom shows up in a new outfit that lets us know she is just Steph the Mom now and she interrupts the sharing of feelings before it even gets started.

Digression 3: Steph is wearing a worn out t-shirt and a pair of plaid pajama pants which is very similar to what I wore to drop off my kids at school this morning. #lesbianmomuniform

Lesbian Mom Uniform

Lesbian Mom Uniform

Steph then goes on a Tour of Children. First stop? Mariana and Jesus. They are chatting on Mariana’s bed and Steph joins them and is much softer and sweeter and gives them hugs and kisses because she’s wearing her magical lesbian mom pajama pants. Then she says that they are their real kids too and adds “I love you my babies” and I teared up a bit because it’s sweet and I’m really tired because one of my babies didn’t sleep last night and I was not as patient and kind as Steph even though I was wearing the magical pajama pants.


the good news is, i still look really hot in my cop outfit

Then, we briefly see Callie in a white claw foot tub and she is bruised and sad and she touches a turtle sticker on the wall and looks pensive and it all starts to feel like it could go very After School Special soon.

Steph continues her Tour of Children with a stop to see Piano Man. She asks him to be nice to Callie and says, “I just need you to, I don’t know…” and he says, “Ok, I’ll be sure to I don’t know as much as I can.” And now I want Brandon to live with me too! Then, he talks about homework and says, “Moby Dick waits for no man.” Steph responds, “Which reminds me – do you need condoms?” And I laughed which means that Steph can come live with me too.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen of darkness, Mariana takes down a Burberry box basket thing and removes some Methylphenidate (generic Ritalin) and that’s when you know that there are going to be lessons learned!

Digression 4: It is a little known fact that lesbian mothers keep all medications in a Burberry box basket filled with beige napkins. Ritalin must be hidden from the children…who take it.

Callie catches Mariana taking the pills because she is skulking about the house. She then goes to Piano Man’s room and steals his phone while he is reading Moby Dick and then makes a call in some other darkened part of the house and says, “Hey baby. It’s me.” and then says something about having to figure out how to get there. Callie is very busy. I suspect she is nocturnal.

Fast forward to school the next morning. Apparently, Lena is Vice Principal of Anchor Beach which is supposedly a school but looks like a yacht club with lots of pretty people, a view of the ocean and people walking around with surfboards. We did not have these things at my school. Of course, I lived in Kansas but still.

yeah, ryan atwood and seth cohen go here too, it's nbd

yeah, ryan atwood and seth cohen go here too, it’s nbd

To avoid being stared at by girls in pastels, Callie and her army jacket go with the Piano Man to listen to him practice. He then plays her an original piece about his family and it should be really touching because the music is good and it’s a nice sentiment (It’s about his family and how the music is just better with all of them together) but mostly it feels contrived.

Sorry Piano Man.

There are a bunch of little scenes that follow but they feel choppy and boring and I am going to ignore them even though Missy Higgins’ “Secret” is playing while Callie is trying to get some kid she just met to drive her to Mexico or close to Mexico. See? Boring.

Meanwhile, Mariana is secretly chatting with her birth mom online.

Digression 5: While Mariana chats online we find out that the family’s last name really is Foster which is so disappointing. Fosters Fostering. I had hoped that wouldn’t be the case. But alas, Jennifer Lopez didn’t ask my opinion when producing this show. We just don’t talk like we used to.

also i'm bringing katie_xoxo

also i’m bringing katie_xoxo

Mariana chats. Callie tries to get to San Ysidro. Vikki naps.

Instead of doing some book learnin’, Callie confronts Mariana about the pills and Mariana tells her where the bus stop is. Jesus finds a huge wad of cash in Mariana’s purse and she says that she got it working as a Cater Waiter in New York and he says that she got it selling drugs and he sings Cold Hearted Snake. Essentially.

Then, we end up in a police station and the Captain wants to see Steph the Cop Mom and it seems her partner is transferring and the Captain says, “You’re not gonna cry are you?” and Steph says, “No. With all due respect, screw you.” What a lovable tough guy she is! Then there is some partner drama of the non-lez variety because some guy, Mike, wants to be her partner and Steph’s not happy and we start figuring out that Mike is her ex and they made the Piano Man.

wouldn't this show be even better if her new partner was the lady in the blazer

wouldn’t this show be even better if her new partner was the lady in the blazer

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Vikki Reich

Vikki Reich is a writer and communications consultant. She lives in Minneapolis with her partner and kids, surrounded by a loving queer community.

Vikki has written 25 articles for us.


  1. I really like the fact that the twins still speak Spanish and that Stef (?) is learning too. I’ve seen too many foster parents strip their kids (unintentionally) of the their heritage. I liked that tidbit

    • The Spanish was so forced, though! It did not sound natural and that really bothered me. Even *I* can speak Spanish more naturally than they did. Maybe they’re just not that great at acting?

      • Oh maybe you can tell me what it was that the cop mom said to them about speaking Spanish? It sounded like some kind of rule about when they were allowed to use it, so I was less impressed with her as a “good” adoptive parent. But I’ve never studied Spanish, and I’d be delighted to be able to rescind that opinion.

          • I had a similar experience w/r/t the language thing. About 3 months into being in foster care, the family I was placed with took in two brothers and a sister who are Micronesian. Our guardians (or as I liked to call them, rental parentals) forbid them from speaking their language because they were afraid they’d “hatch some kind of a plan.” These kids were ages 4, 6, and 7, by the way. What did they think they’d do, run away and hop a greyhound?

          • As a parent, I can understand feeling excluded. However, as a parent (foster or otherwise), it is also your responsibility to honor your kids in all their complexity.

          • Oh god, that’s exactly what my guardians said. But actually, in our case, we were teenagers and I KNOW some of my foster sisters were hatching plans to run away and things like that.
            Still, though, we were in Florida and you would think they would’ve tried to find some people who could speak Spanish.

        • I think the rule was that they can’t use spanish to talk about other people

          The twins were clearly talking about Callie when Stef entered the room. Basically, Stef and Lena don’t want them to hide behind a language that the other kids don’t understand to mock them or other people.

  2. a real email i just sent out to the whole team:

    “guys i am obsessed with vikki and that recap.”

    i didn’t watch the show and i probably never will but i can already tell i’ll be waiting for these recaps obsessively. thank you vikki!

    • Missy and Brandi are two of my favorites and it was definitely noteworthy though didn’t you think “Secret” was a little too something for a scene about secrets? Maybe I’m just picky. “Before It Breaks” was absolutely perfect for the end though so kudos to the person doing their music. Hope it continues.

      • Oh, Secret was way too much, especially because I can’t hear it without knowing the backstory to it, that it’s about Missy’s dating a closeted girl and how hard it was for her, and so it didn’t really fit in my mind.
        Brandi at the end was exceptional, as always.

  3. I am kind of hoping the comment about little Jude being abused for wearing women’s stuff is going lead in later to them coming out as being a trans girl. Kind of stereotypical but would be nice to add a trans character to the mix.

  4. i love you vikki

    also, i felt like there was no chemistry between the two moms? everything felt really watered down and predictable, but that might just be because it’s abc family. or because i have a family like this, it lacks a novelty factor that it might still have for straight people. but it was very respectful of queer families. i’m interested in how jude’s story will play out!

    • They packed a lot into the first episode and hopefully they’ll be able to pick up all those strands. As for the chemistry, I didn’t think they lacked chemistry so much as didn’t have many opportunities to show that they had some. I thought it was sweet when they were lying in bed after folding clothes. At this point, not being awkward together is enough for me to buy in and they didn’t seem awkward. For the record, I never fold clothes at bedtime (or ever if I can avoid it).

  5. You didn’t add my favorite line which was when Jesus told Callie (after she said the dukes thing), “they prefer the term people, but yes they’re gay”. But otherwise this was great.

    • Yes, that was a nice little scene. I also liked how the kids made it clear that friends didn’t want to come over because Steph is a cop, not because she is a lady lover.

  6. Great recap Vikki! I’m looking forward to reading them every week. I really hope this show continues to be worthy of them. The ex husband as a partner thing is a major load of crap and a pretty laughable way to insert a male character into a show that the suits probably thought had too darn many women in it. It’s a concern going forward.

  7. OK this made me actually want to go and watch it. I love the concept, but I’m not huge on ABC Family shows in general, so I’m hesitant. I’ll probably give it a couple of episodes, and I look forward to future recaps!

  8. This recap was so good I actually want to tune in. I do have a bit of a soft spot for ABC Family thanks to Bunheads.

    I also laughed out loud at this: But alas, Jennifer Lopez didn’t ask my opinion when producing this show. We just don’t talk like we used to.

    Thanks for this Vikki!

    I still have ominous feels about the shoehorned ex but I’m going to ignore them.

  9. Why have you not been recapping shows this whole time?!?! I would award you a bistro glass for this recap, but apparently you have an endless supply. I agree with the concerns mentioned about the ex husband/dad /partner. I’m just waiting for the moment when they make the mom cop and dad cop have an affair. Cause that’s where this is going, right? Ugh.

  10. Okay, so while I appreciate the analyzation of characters for the Lesbian and entire LGTBQ-Q community, I just want to say that the show’s premise is mostly about foster care.

    From your critique it is very obvious that you have some very misinformed and judgemental views of youth that are in care. Specifically, the language around the juvenile justice system, processing child abuse and truama, and substance use and abuse. I’m glad that we can discuss feminist issues and the characters, but come on. The details that you describe as boring and choppy are the some of the details that best document a youth’s time in foster care and create awareness for those that have the privilege not to have ever been involved with the system. Dismissing those details is dismissing a compilaition of foster youth’s lived experiences.

    Quite frankly, reading this re-cap left me feeling really disappointed with the inability to critize accurately and senstively the main focal point of the show: foster care. if you would like to learn more about that and need some awareness materials about foster care issues, please feel free to contact me.

      • While not perfect, it does represent some truthful experiences. Also, I wasn’t defending the respresentation in the show but expressing the inability to critically engage any of those issues in this post.

        As an advocate that works in foster care policy and engages with these issues every day, and someone who was in the system myself, I am aware of that. I just hope that when people engage with issues in the show that they also engage with youth issues and foster care issues in a respectful and meanigful way that doesn’t perpetuate stigma and stereotypes.

    • I want to start by saying that it’s unfair to make assumptions about my knowledge of the system based on a recap of a television show. So, I’ll tell you a little bit about me…

      In November of 2012, I quit my job. I was an Adult Protection Investigator for the county in which I live and investigated abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of adults and worked extensively with families. For 15 years, I saw the worst of what people do to each other so I am very aware of the issues related to abuse, trauma and chemical dependency.

      So, your assumptions about me are way off. However, you have a legitimate point in regard to the recap. No, I did not focus on the foster care aspects of the show – partially because the recap was meant to be entertaining and partially because the issues are so complex that a recap couldn’t possibly do them justice.

      And, for the record, the choppy and boring parts were actually the fault of the editing and speed with which they moved through scenes not because of content.

      I hear what you are saying though and I will keep it in mind in the future.

      • I’m sorry if it came off as that I was attempting to make assumptions about you. I didn’t mean it that way. I just wanted to draw attention to the fact that in re-capping shows like this one without giving a lot of attention to the issues surrounding the youth is unfortunate.

        I say this because, as a youth advocate, I see stigmas around juvenile hall and probation propageted every day by mainstream media. Foster youth and homeless youth are disproportionately part of the queer community, and are often left out of the discussion in the community in general.

        With this new show, I think that there is a great opportunity to discuss these issues on a broader scale that bridges issues of gender, sexuality, foster care, class, and society. I just hope that that doesn’t get lost in the name of entertainment.

        But thank you for that.

  11. Great recap! The show definitely has the potential to get a little too After School Special-y, but so far I like it a lot.

    I love how they got the “OMG they’re lesbian moms” thing out of the way right off the bat, with Jesus’s matter-of-fact response to Callie calling them “dykes.”

    As far as the ex goes, I don’t think he was shoehorned in. I hope things don’t go to the affair place between him and Stef, but so far I’m choosing to just see his involvement as Brandon’s dad. It’s fair that he be in his son’s life.

  12. I loved this show! I loved that there was actually *gasp* a bi-racial lesbian couple with a family on ‘normal’ teevee. I actually liked that the moms came across as sweet and professional and mom-like and not super sexual or whatever. They have been together and parenting for over 10 years I would gather and by that time (normally) people settle into their routine and I think this portrayed that really well

  13. I too was (pleasantly) surprised at how much I sort of enjoyed the show.

    However, this recap was an entirely different experience and a wonderful one. Great job! Hopefully the show continues and Lena and Steph get a relationship with each other a bit more – that doesn’t involve fighting about the ex boyfriend. I look forward to your next recap.

    P.S. They didn’t go to Mexico but I was also confused.

  14. To clarify, they weren’t in Mexico, they were in San Ysidro, which is an American city on the border, directly across from Tijuana. When she saw that they were in San Ysidro she worried that they might be heading to Tijuana, but they weren’t.

  15. This recap was *almost* better than the show itself. The most annoying thing for me was that the kids had no definite reference system for addressing their Mum’s – Piano Man & Jesus call Steph “Mum” but thereafter, Lena is only addressed as “Lena”. Where’s the equality in this?

    • I’m glad you pointed this out because I didn’t notice it. Our kids call us mom or mama or mommy or by our first names, or sometimes a combo. It can change even within a single conversation and sometimes depends on who else is in the room. I’m interested to hear from people who are more structured on this.

      • I didn’t notice this on the show either, so will have to pay attention next episode.

        As far as in my own family, I’m “Mommy” and my wife is “Mama” or (more recently) “Mom.” If someone calls us by the “wrong name,” my 4-year-old will call it out. So it’s pretty set in her mind that “Mommy” and “Mama/Mom” are different names for different people, and not different words for the same thing. I wonder what will happen when she gets older, if I’ll stay “Mommy” or if she’ll come up with something else that’s more mature-sounding to call me.

  16. As someone who was adopted & has reunited with my first family, I am so interested to see how they handle these story-lines moving forward. I’m so sick of seeing the flowery adoption/donor/surrogate portrayals in the media.

    They do not accurately portray the complex realities most of us have actually experienced (ie: both the positives & the negatives).

    I’m not sure why the parents have a rule about speaking Spanish in the house. The twins have been a part of their family for so long, that this should be something they all embrace for their sake. It isn’t easy losing your culture/language/entire family of origin (whether it is best for you to be raised by different parents or not).

    It looks like the twins first mother will be bad news… it was heartbreaking when she just took the money & left. I wonder about their father & extended families & I think it’s very realistic that the twins are coping in different ways.

    • The scene with Marianna and her mother was really hard and that was one of the times that I got really irritated about the editing and pacing. We barely had to time to think about what she must be feeling before we were whisked away. I know a pilot episode has to establish a lot but it felt like they tried to do too much which lessened the emotional impact.

      • Agreed. I mean if Marianna is a main character, that was a HUGE moment for her. Something that in real life would likely impact the rest of her life. So I hope they revisit it — but I agree & also felt they did not do that scene justice.

      • Also do we know if the twins mother’s rights were terminated, or if she relinquished rights to the them so they could be adopted?

        All I remember is the mother was basically slut-shamed for leaving them to run off with a man. Of course it begs the question whether or not that is what actually happened (or just their perception of what happened).

  17. I feel like it says a lot about me as person that immediately upon seeing the name Gutierrez I thought, “OMG that was the surname of Ampata from Buffy!”

    This recap was really hilarious and fun. I might have to watch the show now. Thanks, Vikki!

  18. Thankx a lot Vikki ,lots of parts i didn’t quite understand from this episode except after reading your beautiful recap and your very nice comments within the recap ;)

    u did a wonderful job dear

    Have a great weekend :)


    I finally got cable due to finding a cheaper place *woot woot* so I’ll will be watching this because it’s been so so so long. I also have lots of feelings about foster care and the children I personally knew involved so yeah when I get around to watching the first epi, you’ll know all the feels.

  20. While I’m sure you’re right about the ex being inserted because there were just TOO MANY LADIES, I am genuinely interested in depictions of post-separation co-parenting where both parties are interested and involved.

  21. May I just say that when she called herself a feminist I straight-up cried? Also, genderqueer/questioning kid: adorable. I am so excited about this show I cannot even compose myself.

      • Yeah, and just because a character in a show has the full run of The L Word in her living room in one episode doesn’t NECESSARILY mean she couldn’t be straight, but ugh can you please not. There is not exactly a lot of media out there acknowledging trans kids exist, ever, and this sort of reaction denying a character could be trans (and laying on the gendered pronouns really heavily to add insult to injury!) just no, back off, let us hope.

  22. I will keep watching, just so that I can come back and read your recaps. Hilarious, Vikki! You can come live with me and use my bistro glasses any time! (And when the iPhone product placement tells us that Jesus is calling, we won’t answer.)

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