The Fosters Episode 317 Recap: Trust No One

Previously on The Fosters, Sally came into Lena’s office and said that Monty kissed her and I honestly don’t remember anything else that happened before or after that because I blacked out in a rage spiral foreseeing one of only two directions that storyline could go: queer predator teacher or teenage girl lying about sexual assault, and neither of those things are okay. Probably I would have been a little more trusting if Freeform hadn’t cancelled Chasing Life and de-gayed Pretty Little Liars, but man, you add those two things to Rose (from Jane the Virgin) and Lexa (from The 100) getting murdered last week, and my belief-o-meter is hovering on empty.

It’s breakfast at the Foster Adams house. What thing that has nothing to do with Brandon will Brandon make all about himself on this morning? Why, it’s Jesus and Mariana’s birthday! They have different ideas about what sounds fun. He wants to skateboard with five bros and pizza and that’s it. She wants to have a dance party that everyone is invited to. Nick is there and he suggests using his dad’s warehouse as both a skate park and a dance floor, and that’s when Brandon is like, “But that warehouse is for R and J!” (Every time someone says “R and J” out loud, Gretchen Weiners gets her wings.) It is a space someone is letting him borrow, and he has claimed complete ownership over it. Every morning before 8am, this boy.

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The Wild and Wondrous Faces of Teri Polo

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In two volumes.

Lena zips out the door to work, but not before Stef kisses her and pointedly says, “Good luck.”

Jude’s invisibility potion has worn off. He’s sitting at the table eating his Fruit Loops when his phone bleeps. Jesus picks it up for some reason, and gets more than he bargained for. It’s a sext from Connor. Jude seems just as surprised as Jesus, and definitely more freaked out than him. To complicate matters, Stef and Lena have given Jude a train ticket to go see Connor this weekend, for his homecoming game and dance.

Unsatisfied with his success in centering his siblings’ birthday on himself, Brandon pulls Callie aside before they leave for school and tells her not to bring AJ to the party because it’ll make him feel weird, which he knows from experience, because when Callie and AJ were making out in the backyard the other day, he was standing in the shed and staring at them from the window. Callie is like, “We’re going to be siblings for the rest of our lives, so maybe we should get used to the idea of seeing each other with appropriate love interests.” Brandon doesn’t really know if they need to do that at all. Is a murder suicide pact out of the question? It worked for R and J. J never had to see R with Rosaline ever again after she was dead.

Anchor Beach High School for Extradimensionally Dramatic Humans.

Lena: So. Sally says you kissed her.
Monty: Aw, man. No. Come on. Look, what happened is, she tried to kiss me and I calmly but firmly refused her.
Lena: And did not report it to the school board for some reason?
Monty: Well, she’s eighteen, so it’s not a felony.
Lena: Okay, Ezra.
Monty: I’m serious, Lena. I did not make a pass at a student. I just didn’t want to embarrass her when she came onto me. I know what that feels like.
Lena: I mean, way to try to emotionally manipulate me into feeling guilty by illogically juxtaposing two monumentally different kissing scenarios.

Anyway, Sally told her parents about what happened and so now there will be consequences, one way or another. Lena really doesn’t know who to believe. Stef lists all the reasons Monty is engaging in classic grooming behavior: She created situations where she could be alone with Sally, builds her up, gives her special treatment. And so Lena keeps all of this in mind when she goes to meet with Sally and her parents.

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We’re thinking of transferring Sally to Rosewood High.

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No. Absolutely not.

Sally barely talks the whole time, and Sally’s mom says she’s also not going to testify in front of the school board, which puts Lena in a tricky pickle. Here’s how Sally’s mom tells it: Sally found Monty, this “self-described bisexual” on a dating website, where she was “soliciting both men and women” — the term is “seeking,” Lena corrects her — and then Monty tried to kiss Sally, and not the other way around, obviously, because Sally has a boyfriend. Sally has worked too hard to have her reputation called into question, Sally’s mom says, so she wants Monty fired.

I hate this story, I really do. Because there’s an untrue stigma in the world, still to this day, that queer people — and particularly bisexual women — are sexual deviants, and it often makes it very hard for queer women to adopt children or to come out when they’re teachers and school administrators, especially in places that aren’t bastions of progressive values. I have a dear friend who is a teacher at a private school here in Manhattan that fosters inclusivity and encourages staff members to talk about their identities, and she still struggles with it because she grew up in a rural community that would never have accepted her as an exceptional teacher if they’d known she was gay. When I lived in Georgia, my friends who were teachers begged me not to publicly talk about my sexuality because they feared having to cut me out of their lives, or risk alienating the parents of their students.

And on the other side of that coin, women are often punished and socially ostracized for coming forward to speak out against their abusers. The football players who gang raped a women in Stubenville, for example. CNN, NBC, ABC and Yahoo News all mourned the loss of the promising careers of these young men, these respected teammates, these good guys, and cast aspersions on the woman they victimized. Just two weeks ago, SB Nation (a limb of Vox Media) posted a longform article sympathizing with and humanizing Daniel Holtzclaw, instead of honoring the 18 black women he was convicted of raping. Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews won a $55 million lawsuit against the stalker who videoed her undressing through a hotel wall, and posted it online. Just look at these tweets that landed right after the verdict was announced yesterday.

There’s a reason almost 70 percent of sexual assaults are never reported to the police. Authorities, the general public, the media: our society doesn’t believe women when they report being victimized; and even if it’s proven beyond doubt that they were victims, their lives are often still torn apart.

The experience of moving through the world as a woman is fraught; and moving through the world as a queer woman, specifically, is a constant battle that daily includes fighting against the stigmas that have been sewn into the fabric of society by pop culture. I am so exhausted from explaining over and over again the enormous responsibility of putting queer stories into the world. And I remain almost constantly bamboozled by the fact that writers: a) continue to use the same hackneyed tropes when there are infinite other story possibilities available to them, and/or b) are convinced the way they’ll use the trope will be different and singular and acceptable.

It won’t be. And it won’t be. And it won’t be.

Queer women are not just pushing back against one single story on the one single show. I’m not even reacting to just The Fosters right now. Stories do not exist inside a vacuum. Stories build upon the perceptions we’ve consumed from other stories, from advertising, from our religious upbringings, from our anecdotal experiences, and on and on. When you add one more brick to that wall of damaging cliches, it makes it that much harder for us to try to knock it down. That one brick might be the difference between a tough but manageable obstacle and an insurmountable one.

Someone said the most profound thing on Twitter yesterday: “Y’know, there aren’t really lesbian “fandoms.” There’s *the lesbian fandom*, migrating from show to show like a herd crossing the desert.” And what’s more, there’s not even really a generational divide in lesbian fandom. The quality TV shows and movies that are available to us, and especially the ones that really resonate with us emotionally, have been so sparse that we’ve watched them all, no matter when or where they were made. We’ve watched them in pieces on YouTube, with fan-made transcriptions for non-English shows, and we’ve talked about them and written about them until they’ve become part of our collective queer consciousness. We’re reacting to the totality of the canon because it’s not a very big canon and the fullness of it informs the way other people think about us, and the way we think about ourselves.

You know what got me the most last week about gay TV? The overwhelming majority of queer women who were blaming themselves for believing that [whatever show] wasn’t going to let them down. Using these tropes to write about queer women doesn’t only make the world harder for us, systemically, and more painful for us, personally; it also causes us to hate ourselves for hoping in story. How fucked up is that?

I love this thing Graham Swift wrote: “Man — let me offer you a definition — is the storytelling animal. Wherever he goes he wants to leave behind not a chaotic wake, not an empty space, but the comforting marker-buoys and trail-signs of stories. He has to go on telling stories. He has to keep on making them up. As long as there’s a story, it’s all right. Even in his last moments, it’s said, in the split second of a fatal fall — or when he’s about to drown — he sees, passing rapidly before him, the story of his whole life.”

Stories make us human, and it’s not hard to tell good ones about women. Watch how easy this is: There’s a rumor about Sally that she’s gay and she comes to Lena to talk about it, because even though it’s cool that the vice-principal is a lesbian, that doesn’t make it easy to come out as a teenager, and then the rumor gets back to Sally’s parents and they accuse Lena of recruiting Sally into lesbianism and Monty has to investigate. You’re on the side of the established queer woman from the start. Your sympathy is with Sally. Her parents are still controlling. And it’s highly watchable drama. No ducking and dodging at bisexual predator tropes, or leaning onto the lie that women in real life lie about sexual assault. It would cost the same amount of money to make and use the same actors and take up the same amount of screen time and fit in exactly the same place in the season-long narrative. IT’S NOT HARD.

My dad recently said to me that it must be exhausting to view the world like this and I was like, “You mean as a queer woman with my eyes open? Yeah, it is.” I just want to love TV and I want TV to love me back. So simple. It’s so simple. I don’t want to be outraged. I just want to be happy, and for the world to be safe for me and my queer sisters.

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Maybe we’ll have sex one time before Mariana and Jesus’ 17th birthday!

Mariana has a chat with her grandparents and asks them if they’ll work with her to get Gabe off the sex offenders registry, because he’s done his time and because Jesus really wants to have a relationship with him. She then drags Ana over to Gabe’s house and explains that he just needs to fill out this form and Ana will testify for him and maybe even her grandparents and it’ll be all good, and she’ll fix it, and she’ll make it right. She bounces for her birthday party, the fact of which makes Gabe feel super awkward, and leaves Ana behind with him and a beer.

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This is the best coming out party I’ve ever been to, Mariana! I’m so happy for you!

The party! It’s actually very cool. Nick pulled it off brilliantly. Jude is there because he told his moms to return his train ticket because he didn’t really want to go see Connor this weekend. That was a lie, but he got some bad advice from Jesus about how he learned to have sex, and that advice was: porn. Jude literally Googled “gay sex two dudes first time” and clicked on the first result and it terrified him. Luckily, Callie gets a hot tip that this is why he abandoned his trip, and she talks to him about her fears of having sex with AJ as a way to really talk to him about the things he’s scared about. She says when you have sex with someone you love and trust, it can still be weird, especially at first, but it’s safe and also awesome. He believes her.

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Love is a piano dropped from a fourth story window.

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#gaygaygaygaygaygaygay

Also at the party is Sally. She’s dancing with another girl and when she peeps Lena looking at her, she stops right in her tracks and dances in the other direction with the air. She even tries to make a break for it when Lena’s head is turned, but Lena is the mother of five teenagers; her peripheral vision borders on premonition. She stops Sally and asks why she’s leaving so early.

Sally: Homework.
Lena: Your parents put a lot of pressure on you, huh? To be a great student. To be a beacon of heteronormativity.
Sally:am a beacon of heteronormativity!
Lena: I was just thinking, if you found Monty on a dating website, you were probably looking for women, too, same as her, huh?
Sally: Um.
Lena: I know you want to make your parents proud. But you should be able to make yourself proud by living authentically. I’m trying to pep talk you about your sexuality without casting doubt on your claims of assault. I, and I alone, am capable of doing this, on all of television and perhaps in the world.
Sally: Yeah, this show really lucked out when it found you.

Also also at the party is Ana, and she is high. It’s not good. She starts yelling at her mom and dad for getting Gabe arrested, and tells them they’re the reason she lost her kids. And also it is Stef’s fault for taking her kids. It’s a terrible scene and I have never felt so sorry for Mariana in all my life. This is a bit of Callie luck.

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Thanks for sending me your invisibility cloak.

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Please just remember it is dry clean only.

Who, by the way, is at home making out with AJ. While Brandon is making out with his new girlfriend in the garage. They bump into each other in the kitchen when they’re getting water to rehydrate and it’s dumb. And AJ sees them and gets mad about it which is also dumb. Brandon’s girlfriend lives with her ex, too, though (like a regular ol’ homosexual), so she’s not mad.

Finally everyone comes home and they’re all feeling kind of morose, and Connor and Jude break up on Skype, but then Stef and Lena pull out the presents and the Adams Fosters are happy, just for a second, that they have each other, and can get through everything because of it.

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Seems like just yesterday it was the Quinceañera .

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I cannot believe all the shit we have been through in one single year.

In two weeks: Everyone wears all the eyeliner and R and J finally hits the stage.


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Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

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50 Comments

    • BITE YOUR TONGUE. Seriously, knock on wood, then go spin around three times.

      Oh god. I really hope Jonah Nolan and Greg Plageman have been watching the twitter/tumblr shitstorm since Thursday. There’s enough overlap between the two fandoms that I’m sure they’ve caught some of it. They must know, THEY MUST, what will happen if they backtrack on Shoot. I’m actually okay if either of them die, considering the context of their show, but only if it’s in the final episode.

    • Season 5 has already been filmed, but when or where it’s going to air is anyones guess… :/ But Sarah Shahi was been cast in a lead role on a new CBS crime drama, so don’t expect her to do anything more with PoI… 🙁

  1. I don’t know how they managed it, but the fact that The Fosters seemingly somehow dodged the “bisexual predator”/”girl lies about assault” is such a relief. As soon as Sally’s mom started talking, I saw where they were going. I really hope in future episodes Lena can help Sally, and help her parents be less homophobic. But also, I kind of feel like the show has been there already, with Connor’s dad? It feels very similar.

    In other news, while Mariana is usually the smartest person in the universe, she must have been very excited about her party to leave her sober mom alone with the guy who got her addicted in the first place. Not that this is Mariana’s fault, it’s not, she’s sixteen, and they are both adults. I’m just surprised that the show went the “make the smart girl momentarily stupid for the sake of the plot” route. It’s something Aaron Sorkin used to do a lot on the West Wing, and it never ceases to piss me off.

    My heart BROKE for Jude in this episode. Poor kid. He’s still what, fourteen? Fucking Jesus. But I have to admit, Callie’s line “When do I ever talk to Jesus!?” really cracked me up, because it’s just SO TRUE.

  2. Yes, thank you. The sad state of queer women representation on tv this week has left me and so many people jaded and frustrated and marginalized that I can barely handle it. And it’s a catch 22 with writers: sit back and thank them for finally writing about queer women on tv even if it is crap/tropey, or constructively criticize their poor writing and fear the loss of queer characters all together. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

  3. Okay so I don’t think I’ve seen The Fosters since before the hiatus, which, my bad. But I clicked on this off a quote on tumblr and just had to comment.

    Everything you said about navigating the world as a queer woman and lesbian fandom and the human need to tell stories is just… so spot on. I was talking with a friend today and we were remembering all the Very Special Episodes and sweeps week kisses and just plain terrible things we watched in the late 90s/early 00s when we were young and newly out and just so desperate to see ourselves represented on our TV screens. And while things have definitely changed a lot in the TV landscape since then, in some ways it hasn’t changed at all. And I’m just so tired of being made to feel angry and sad over something that is supposed to be a fun escape from the mundanity of every day life. If I wanted to be angry and sad all the time I’d just watch the news, y’know?

    But I still (maybe stupidly) have hope. Someday all these kids who are 10-20 years younger than me, who have grown up with their eyes wide open to all of the ways in which queer women are dismissed and wronged by mainstream media are going to be the adults. They’re going to be the ones writing scripts and running shows and hopefully it will be better. And I will be an old lady still yelling about TV on the Internet, but maybe I won’t have to yell quite so much, or for quite the same reasons. At least, I hope.

    • I think Sally told her parents because Monte was required to tell the school board about it, and Sally assumed she would, so instead of her parents finding out that she initiated a kiss with another woman (/her principal), she told them that Monte kissed her. Of course, Monte didn’t report the incident, so if Sally hadn’t mentioned it to her parents they wouldn’t have found out.

    • I figure if Sally believed Monte was going to report her to the school board (like, you know, any other reasonable adult would when a student makes a pass at you), she wanted to get out ahead of it by making a preemptive accusation & avoid being outed to her parents.

      But even if this was the ‘best case scenario’ of the story-line, I feel like this plot was such pointless mess and not enough of a teachable moment to justify going down the Predatory Bi Woman vs Lying Bi Teen route.

  4. I love this idea of THE lesbian fandom. I’ve definitely been guilty of jumping from show to show following the lesbian storylines. My prime, teenage coming out material was watching South of Nowhere on YouTube from my little bedroom in the UK. I wish that people would start to get these stories right, I thought we were getting there but apparently not.
    I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on lesbian and bisexual female characters in British soap operas. When I finished it I felt like my results were showing that things were getting better and in a couple of years we’d have well rounded queer women across all races, ages and gender identities and they’d be having the most amazing storylines. However here we are 2 years on still having this conversation in all tv and film from all over the world.
    Thank you Heather for always pointing people out and not being afraid to point a finger at the shows you love when they’re doing something wrong.

  5. “The quality TV shows and movies that are available to us, and especially the ones that really resonate with us emotionally, have been so sparse that we’ve watched them all, no matter when they were made. We’ve watched them in pieces on YouTube, with fan-made transcriptions for non-English shows, and we’ve talked about them and written about them until they’ve become part of our collective queer consciousness. We’re reacting to the totality of the canon because it’s not a very big canon and the fullness of it informs the way other people think about us, and the way we think about ourselves.”

    I dont even watch this show!! I was soley reading it because im so disappointed in tv and i literally read everything on Autostraddle just because its for us by us even if it has nothing to do with me I JUST NEED something everyday that lets me know my feelings are real and validated and accepted by someone. So when i read this part i got chills. Then i continued to keep reading and started tearing up because… because yea. This is EXACTLY HOW IVE FELT THIS WEEK. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. As sad as it is, this is so relatable and i once more feel validated.

    WE NEED TO START WRITING. As a community. We all need to just start writing and creating and were bound to collectively come up with a book or a movie that is relatable and HAPPY and no one dies, and everyone is just happy and normal and gay.

    Its clearly on us.

  6. I wanted to get up and give you a standing ovation in the middle of this! Yes to everything you said. Lack of representation, POOR representation, the horrifying way women are written about in real world news stories – all of these things just bog down your day to day experiences.

  7. Yes yes yes to all of this. And yes, it IS exhausting watching this happen over and over again to the queer community in television (and real life) – whenever people ask that, I’m just like…what do you want me to do? Turn off my brain? Pretend it isn’t happening? So that nothing ever changes?

    I think that of all the ways they could have handled this truly horrendous story line, they did at least do it best, thanks to Lena and her general awesomeness.

    Now moving on to how much I hate Brandon. WHY IN GODS NAME when he and Callie ran into each other in the house, did the writers make it so that Brandon’s date was cool with everything, but AJ was upset? BRANDON GETS EVERYTHING HE WANTS and still manages to be the most miserable privileged ass on earth. Like can’t Callie catch a break for once? And just for good measure: I HATE BRANDON I HATE BRANDON I HATE BRANDON.

    Fave parts of the episode: Jude’s Google searching. God bless Jude. Just everything Jude does. Even his convo with Connor at the end, even though it was sad – I just feel like he is an old soul and I love him so much.

    My other favorite, as someone already pointed out, was Callie going, “When do I ever talk to Jesus??” So real.

  8. I got a text message telling me to read this even though I don’t watch this show and don’t normally read the recaps and I’m SUPER glad I did. This recap was great and feels very relevant anyway.

    It has been an emotional week and also I want to read a queer theory / oral history of The Lesbian Fandom so badly just to… process, I guess? So much of what is going down in the complete and total meltdown that’s happening in The 100 fandom right now is way bigger than the show itself and I’m feeling really hungry for that context (and sort of how fandom has co-evolved with technological and political shifts. (I suspect that the impact of Lexa’s death might be worse for pretty obsessed fans than Tara’s was just because people are so much more connected to their devices and the relationships with creators feel much more personal, but maybe that’s offset by a theoretically more liberal environment for queer people? But then also maybe the people who use fandom escapism the most intensely might be in the most hostile real life environments? That would be a huge project for Autostraddle to take on but if you ever get a million extra hours I feel like this team could do an incredible job. (Sorry for going wildly off-topic in this comment, I just have a lot of feelings about television and technology and queerness and mental health right now.)

    • I would read the shit out of a queer theory piece on The Lesbian Fandom. I wrote a paper in college about heterosexism in media (largely because I wanted an excuse to write about BtVS) and I wish I still had it because I bet most of it is still way too relevant, even though it was written about 15 years ago.

    • “(I suspect that the impact of Lexa’s death might be worse for pretty obsessed fans than Tara’s was just because people are so much more connected to their devices and the relationships with creators feel much more personal, but maybe that’s offset by a theoretically more liberal environment for queer people? But then also maybe the people who use fandom escapism the most intensely might be in the most hostile real life environments? That would be a huge project for Autostraddle to take on but if you ever get a million extra hours I feel like this team could do an incredible job. (Sorry for going wildly off-topic in this comment, I just have a lot of feelings about television and technology and queerness and mental health right now.)”

      All of that. Yes. I think people are quick to downplay and belittle the emotional responses to what happened to Lexa and how the queer fandom reacted, without actually bothering to put it into the larger context, not just of queer representation, but how people connect with television and each other and how stories and fandoms become havens for marginalized people who are struggling through real life shit.

      I may be thinking about this a lot myself.

  9. I guess that having Sally be closeted and bi-sexual and afraid of her parents finding out was perhaps the best way they could have written themselves out of this god awful storyline! But I also just don’t see why this storyline had to exist at all??? Heather came up with an excellent alternative route that hits the same points and uses a lot less dangerous stereotypes to do it. And I’m betting that it didn’t take her very long to come up with it, either.

    Still, I’ll put my anger aside to say thank you Fosters for NOT giving us the worst possible bisexual predator and/or sexual assault victims lie plot line. You still could’ve done better, but at least thank you for not being the WORST. Whatever.

    Other things:

    -That birthday party looked AMAZING! Mariana and Jesus always throw great parties! Remember the Quinceñera in season 1? Adorable!

    -Related, do the expect me to believe that everything that happened in the last 2 1/2 seasons all took place over the course of a year?? To recap: Stef got shot, Callie ran away, Callie did a stint at Girls United, Jude and Callie both found their fathers, Callie’s biological sister attempted suicide, Callie files to be a emancipated minor, Callie had 2 or 3 separate jobs, Callie helps in the brief kidnapping of Daphne’s daughter, Brandon dabbles in fake IDs, gets beat up, has time to heal, Ana gets sober, Ana has a baby, Lena kisses Monte, Lena gets pregnant, Lena looses the baby, the twins are in a car accident, Jesus goes to boarding school, AJ comes to stay with them, gets fostered by Mike, runs away and back to them, Conor and Jude get together, Conor gets shot, Conor moves away….. THIS ALL HAPPENED IN A YEAR???? I see that The Fosters is going with PLL’s understanding of “time”

    -I know I already hinted at this earlier, but I love the party episodes! I think the kids are always at their best in them.

    -This perhaps an unpopular opinion, but I liked how the Jude and Jesus plot played out. NOT because Jesus gave good advice, but exactly because he didn’t. An older teenage brother telling his younger brother to watch porn in order to learn how to have sex is awful, but the kind of awful that felt realistic to teenage boys. He didn’t get freaked out by seeing Conor’s (gay) sext, he didn’t get freaked out about having to talk about (gay) sex with his younger brother. He treated them 100% normal and in character for who he is. That kind of acceptance is why I love this show. I’m still glad that Callie fixed it, however.

    -And yay for Callie/Jude scenes!! We haven’t had those in forever. More of those, please.

    -This is a small thing, but I *loved* the little casual good morning kiss that Stef gave Lena as she walked out the door! It’s been a hard week for the lesbian fandom, but its the little things like that keep me hooked on the Fosters. Sweet, sweet queer lady domesticity. It’s a real thing that is possible!

  10. There’s a French series called “Fais pas ci fais pas ça” that had one of its characters come out as a lesbian last season.

    And in the 3rd episode of this season started with her getting a letter telling her she is…. pregnant!

    I would have thrown the television out the window if it didn’t belong to my girlfriend.

    But after I spent about half an hour yelling at the teevee and then getting yelled at by my GF for yelling at the teevee, it turned out okay.

    The whole premise was that it must have been the result of one very drunken night with a friend, but she didn’t remember doing anything.

    And then she went to the doctor’s office and was told a disgruntled employee sent a bunch of fake pregnancy letters before quitting and she isn’t pregnant/didn’t cheat on her lady with a man. So she goes and gets back together with her ridiculously attractive gal pal.

    In the end it was actually quite funny and I approved of how they played with the tropes, but I Trust No One and would never have watched far enough to find that out if I had been watching it alone.

  11. Thanks HH. Your vitally relevant but also thoughtful and critical analysis has been a beacon of sanity for me this week.
    WRT to The 100, I’ve found a similar depth and been grounded by jetgirl’s tweets and Tumblr and Mo Ryan’s long piece. I mention those two knowing others in “THE lesbian fandom” (a concept I find true) have disagreed w/them. And because there were bits and pieces within what all three of you wrote that I differed with.
    Because this isn’t my first representation in pop culture rodeo. The internet is wonderful in these contexts because we all have a voice and can be heard. And the internet is awful in these contexts for the same reason.
    I think we win, and we will win, by balancing our grief and justified rage with sober critical analysis. I say it like thats easy. It’s not, partly because it’s not always immediately gratifying and it will never completely satisfy everyone and every agenda in our amazingly complex community.

    Our stories should NEVER be simplied and shortcut by the use of tokenized tropes and we should never accept it. Full stop.

    But it’s going to happen again. Especially in TV, which is a frustratingly inconsistent medium. *And when it does, it won’t always be for the same reasons.*

    Some of us can remember when it was a safe bet that when these tropes happened there was indeed an ideological or exploitative or totally neglectful entrenched ignorance behind them.
    Personally, I believe that’s not usually the case anymore but knowing that doesn’t lessen their impact.

    I think what it does mean is that we keep that sober critical analysis in our toolbox and learn how to use it strategically and effectively as we advocate for what we deserve.

    I don’t (usually) watch TV because I want a happy, idealized, simplified escape into a world with no sadness or difficulty or death or mystery. I am a lover of storytelling and drama with no limits or safety rails. The kind where creators take chances and leaps of faith. And when they land those leaps it’s breathraking and glorious. And when they don’t it can be one bloody confusing mess. I think we have to figure out what creators are worth supporting even if it means we need to educate them or kick their ass or forgive them. Again, it takes a sober insightful eye balanced with heroic, strategic advocacy. And sometimes it will be justified to say, “No. Nope.Not gonna take this. The 21st century, motherfucker-do you speak it!?”
    Especially relevant to me in Jetgirl’s take is the reminder the story’s context and our RL context aren’t the same. What is valid in a story may not be valid in our lives. I think creators forget that at their own (and our peril).
    But we forget it too. I am a POI/Root and Shaw fan to an almost embarassing extent. But when I see these impassioned, heartbroken demands that Root and Shaw better damn well get their happy ending, I gotta ask: their happy ending or yours?

    Because in the show’s context and the violent life or death context of these amazing, damaged, dangerous, fearless characters, a valid and justified ending might not mean Root and Shaw both make it out alive. Or together forever. Or on the same side. The show runners have said it plain: the only guaranteed survivor of the show is Bear.

    Personally, my hope for valid justified ending is one with no tropes, no exploitation, and no “fuck you, just take what we give you” to the fandom. It doesn’t have to be happy. I’d take heroic, or tragic but inspiring, or sad and gritty but true to the characters’ and the story’s complexity.

    Thanks again for fighting the good fight, Heather.

  12. So, first, just a little correction: the $55M jury award that Erin Andrews is slated to receive is only partially from the man who stalked her. He will be responsible for 51% of the award, while West End Hotel Partners, which runs the Marriott at Vanderbilt, is responsible for the other 49%. A jury recognized, unanimously, according to the accounts I’ve read, that not only should the stalker be held to account, so should the system that enabled him.

    There’s something instructive about that outcome, right? About how we’re culpable for the systems we create…for the things we allow to happen, even if we don’t intend it. We are responsible for our contributions to the culture.

    Those seem like lessons that TV writers should avail themselves of…

  13. a) connor and jude’s breakup was so well done and made my heart hurt.

    b) heather you are such a beautiful soul and have been killing it with this broad analysis of how TV and queer women interact.

    c) stef was shockingly emotionally intelligent with jesus in this episode.

    d) when i watched the Lena/Sally exchange at the party, i was actually kind of horrified! i interpreted it as lena basically blackmailing sally – after school hours and at her kids’ birthday party – saying, “so here’s how i know you’re gay; don’t ruin a career.” i can’t bring myself to go back and rewatch because this show has become an exclusively hate-watching experience for me, but i am curious about what y’all think about that scene.

    • Oh that is interesting, I definitely read it more as “queer lady mentor” than I did blackmail. It seemed like she recognized that Sally was questioning and reached out to her in a healthy role model “It gets better” type of way.

      They don’t talk about Monte and the lie explicitly until after Lena has bonded with Sally over the difficulties of being a queer teen and coming out to your parents when they aren’t receptive/ you have a lot of pressures that are unique to being black, and female, and queer- all things Lena directly relates to and has valuable insight on. The part about Monte losing her career felt more like, “I know you are in a world of confusion and fear and hurt, but be a good person” than it did “do this or I will ruin you”.

      But now I am also curious to see how other’s read the scene…

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