The Fosters Episode 216 Recap: Emotional Orgasms

The pharm party is on brand. Warehouse. Pills in a bowl. Live bands. Hairs of many colors. Angry bouncers at the door who don’t believe Mariana is with the band and then yell at her about how she was supposed to bring phrams to the pharm party. Amazingly, she goes like, “Unhand me, you brutes! I thought this was a farm party; hence my jeans and jaunty hat!” Mat swoops in to save her from the hassle, but that only pisses her off even more. As he’s dragging her away, she’s yelling back at the bouncers about how sexist it is to believe she’s with the band just because a dude told them so. Mat tells her to please, please dial back the Hermione Granger vibe tonight so he can focus on playing and not worry about her getting punched in her beautiful face by a bunch of jacked up ruffians. She’s on fire, all, “Bitch, I am the amalgamation of Stef Foster and Lena Adams! This isn’t a vibe; this is the white hot glory of who I am!”


Would you like to join S.P.E.W.?


Lu just wants to have a good time. She pops a random pill or two, despite Brandon’s protests and the fact that his eyes goggle right out of his head when she does it. But not in an insufferable Ross Geller-y way. In an exasperated grandpa way that makes me like him so much more. You will be happy to hear that they are playing that song called “Crossfire” that’s about how bad it sucks when you get attacked by lightning and cannonballs on the same day. And plus a new one about how love is like surfing on kaleidoscopic sound! Lu gets a little loopy on stage and makes Brandon kind of mad, but she recovers just fine because her voice is awesome.

While Brandon’s band plays, Mariana gets herself into a spot of trouble. She tries to find a restroom so she can fix her contact, but the jerks at the door laugh at her for being a silly little girl from the good side of town where people don’t use outhouses or piss in the street or whatever. So she dips into this little cubby hole for a moment of respite and gets locked inside. There is a girl overdosing in there, and so Mariana tries some amateur medicine on her and then calls 911 to come rescue the girl and Callie to come take her home.

The police shut the whole thing down.

Brandon gets pissy about Mariana calling the cops, because none of the bands got paid, and she’s like, “You’d choose $300 in your pocket over me saving a girl’s life?”

Well, when you put it like that. Mariana really is the smartest and best and most hot-headed parts of Stef and Lena combined. I hope she does run for Senate one of these days.


Beyonce does not wake up like that, Lena! There’s no way!


Stop talking to me. Yes, she does.


Okay, Stef and Lena time, but listen real quick. I think you should just go watch this episode if you haven’t already. There has only ever been one other episode of TV that I’ve recapped where I thought, you know, I can’t add a single tiny thing to this that makes it better or funnier or more meaningful — because I would be out of a job/direction in life, if I thought like that! — and so this is the second time. The writing and acting and directing and editing all coalesce to make these scenes the best and most organic lesbian couple stuff I’ve ever seen on TV. If I had been able to watch even just half this episode in 2004, I wouldn’t have had to slog my way through six fucking seasons of The L Word, a show I never identified with in any way, least of all in the way that everyone always had circus sex with effortless million-watt orgasms. I still, to this day, cannot figure out where in the world Bette and Tina’s hands were supposed to be in half of their sex scenes.

So, Stef and Lena don’t have “dinner” so much as they have “an entire bottle of wine and some juice packets.” When they’re good and tipsy, Lena for literal real says, “Last one upstairs has to be the top” and grabs the bottle of wine and runs up the steps with Stef chasing her and shouting about how she’s a cheater-pants.


Still, though. It was better than when we had the twin hospital beds.



Lena: I’m sorry. I think I had too much wine. I just couldn’t get there tonight. I’m glad you did, though. I love making you feel loved.
Stef: Yep!
Lena: Hold up, you did get there, didn’t you?
Stef: I got like 84 percent there, clitorally, and 100 percent there, emotionally.
Lena: You had an … emotional orgasm?
Stef: Mmm hmm. In my heart. I just sort of, um, embellished the physical one.
Lena: Stef, come on! That is the patriarchy! That is “women exist to make men feel good about fucking them!” That’s some bullshit, honey!
Stef: I know.
Lena: Have you ever embellished before?
Stef: You haven’t?
Lena: Not with you, no! If you don’t get off, you don’t get off! It’s not going to hurt my feelings! My self-worth isn’t wrapped up in my ability to make you climax! But don’t lie to me!
Stef: You’re right. No, you’re right. I’m sorry. There was just a lot of pressure on this night because we haven’t had sex in a while.
Lena: Baby, the pressure came from you. You put that pressure on yourself. Which, incidentally, is probably why you only orgasmed “emotionally.”


Smooching you is my favorite.


They cuddle up like some spoons and Stef kisses and kisses and kisses her wife and says she’s sorry again and that it’s just that when you’ve been with someone for ten years, it’s probably a little harder to get off because you’ve been through the motions so many times. Lena says the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard: “I still get excited when you come in the door every night. It’s not new; it’s better.” And then Stef says the second sweetest thing I’ve ever heard. She tells Lena cuddling naked and smooching her face is her favorite part. Lena says, “Of tonight?” Stef says, “Of everything.”

First of all, I am certainly not over lesbians saying “orgasm” over and over on ABC Family while cuddling up naked in bed. Second of all, goddamn, I never thought I’d see this on TV in my lifetime. Like what I wanted my real life to be like ten years ago and what my real life is like today. If I’d seen this on television when I was 16, the shape of my whole world would have been different. Literally, it would have made everything clear to me in half an hour, and changed everything about my life. Everything.


It’s my favorite too, boo.


I made my girlfriend watch this scene last night and she was like, “Is the blonde one going to cheat?” And I was like, “No, dude.” And she was like, “Is the black one going to die?” And I was like, “No!” And she was like, “Well, what terrible fate is about to befall them, then? Lesbians don’t get scenes like that unless someone’s about to get murdered or fuck the carpenter.” And I was all, “THAT’S JUST THIS SHOW. THEY’RE COACH AND TAMI, BUT GAY LADIES.”

In a world where Hollywood seems completely out of new ideas, just flat out of them, here’s this show on ABC Family doing a brand new thing, and doing it beautifully. I’m never relaxed watching lesbians on TV because it’s a constant battle to get writers to treat their gay lady audience right. But The Fosters just lets me check my armor at the door and watch with my heart wide open. It makes me feel very lucky. It makes me forget my job is watching TV. And it makes me cry, cry, cry, in all the best ways.


Right Where You Belong


Stef and Lena put on some pajamas and snuggle up to read before the kids come home. Outside, Mat tells Mariana he loves her but doesn’t want her to come on tour, and she accepts it pretty graciously. Lu tells Brandon she does want him to come on tour, and she’ll work on being more supportive. And Callie tells Raphael she’s got to make some super hard decisions because of some dumb shit she’s done.

Inside, Jesus tries to convince Stef and Lena to adopt Ana’s baby. He says he’s got a plan that might free up a little money.

And finally, Callie comes in and delivers a gut-punching sadness. She says she thinks she should just go live with Robert. It’s so she can keep Stef and Lena out of trouble, of course, but they don’t know that. They look like their hearts have been slapped right in the face. And honestly, so does Callie.

Next week: Rosie’s back and, as usual, she’s not pulling any punches.

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Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior writer who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 978 articles for us.


  1. I’m following this second half season just through your recaps, but I’m probably gonna check out this episode because you’re my lesbian tv guru and I watch everything you say (watching Skins Fire even though you said not to was the biggest mistake of my life). And I’m curious, what was the first episode you didn’t have words for?

    Anyway, great recap and Stef and Lena <3 <3 <3

  2. Thanks for this recap! I felt the exact same way about Lena and Stef’s scenes. I do think it means marital trouble on the horizon at some point (any good serial drama knows to up the sweetness between the couple before causing the trouble), but to do so means they are asking us to be as invested in this very authentic couple as we would be in a Tami/Coach couple. And that means a lot.

      • Yes, I was LITERALLY just thinking of that when trying to remember if anyone had tried to come between the Taylors! I think it might be something like that here, where Lena and that principal become close and the principal totally misreads the whole thing. I highly doubt they’d actually have either of our Moms have an outright affair.

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