Monday, December 4, 2017

Review: The Fosters 4x18 "Dirty Laundry"

Originally written: March 29, 2017


Mariana: Gabe!  Hey!  What's going on?  What are you doing?  I...tried calling you but your phone's disconnected...

Gabe: Uh, yeah.  I am, uh, moving.  Got a job in Lake Tahoe, so...

Mariana:  Wait.  You what?  Were you gonna tell us?

Gabe:  Of course.  Yeah. happened really fast and...  So, why were you looking for me?

Mariana:  Jesus and I wanna build this massive treehouse and - I don't know - I thought that you could help.  

Tonia:  Uh-oh.  Mariana found you, Gabe.  And you don’t seem like you’re doing well.  Hope you’re okay.  (I’m also with Mariana, please don’t leave without saying anything.  That’s so hard.)


Brandon:  Hey, so, what do you guys think about giving Jesus my room?  Like, permanently?

Stef: Really?  That's awfully nice of you, B...

Tonia:  Glad to know Brandon is still being “so nice” to Jesus.  Also, speaking of Jesus, where is he?  We know Mariana’s off finding Gabe, but it’s breakfast time.  Maybe still sleeping?

Tara:  Seriously.  Especially as this appears to be an angle to move into the garage.

Brandon:  Well, not so nice.  I was kinda hoping I could move into the garage?

Tonia:  I mean, fair, I guess.  But also random, Brandon.  If you and Jude are having trouble living together, it’s news to me…

Tara:  They’re not.  B just wants the best space in the house.

Stef: [chuckles]  Well, Callie and Mariana might have an opinion about that.

Callie: Well, I'm sure Mariana will have an opinion but I'm fine with it.  I don't wanna sleep out there.  

Jude:  I think that's a great idea.

Stef:  Oh, do you?  Well, we will talk about it.  Why don't you guys get a move on?  Your brains are not going to enrich themselves.

Tonia:  Again, I notice Stef is worried that Callie and Mariana might have an opinion about the potential switching of rooms, but Jesus is not even in the room for this conversation...


Emma:  Is this safe for you?

Jesus:  Yeah.  Yeah, I think so.  

Emma:  But you're not sure.

Jesus:  What do you want?  Like, a doctor's note, or something?

Emma:  Kinda.

Jesus: [blinks, surprised]

Tara:  This conversation is a little sour for me due to the last time Emma asked about this.  However, she is asking legitimate questions.  I do like this scene, because it portrays Jesus as desirable.


Gabe:  I shouldn't have said yes!  I gotta take this job!  You know, but I just...didn't wanna disappoint the twins again.

Ana:  So, don't.  Stay.

Gabe: I'm living in my truck.  I got evicted that's why I took the job in Tahoe.  

Ana:  Wait.  You got evicted?

Gabe: Yeah.  I was going through a rough time and I just--I stopped showing up for jobs.  Now Mariana and Jesus need me and I can't help them because I messed up.  Again.  Look, you gotta talk to them for me.  Please, I just don't think I can face them.

Ana: I will.

Gabe: [sighs in relief, hugs Ana]  Thank you.

Mike: [just arriving home]  Everything okay?

Tonia:  Oh no, Gabe :(  But you still told Mariana you’d help her and Jesus build their treehouse?  How is that gonna work?  Kinda glad you and Ana are amicable so you can help each other out when you need to talk to the twins about stuff but I’m not sure where this will go.


[They finally stop kissing]

Emma: Okay.

Jesus: [softly] Have fun at wrestling.  Bye.

[Emma leaves; Jesus turns to Lena]

Jesus:  Can I have sex?

Lena:  Uh... Wow...uh...okay...  Well, as you know, Mom and I don't encourage it, because you're so young, but if you do, we insist that you practice safe sex.  

Jesus:  No.  Yeah, yeah.  I know that, Mama.  I mean, like, with my TBI, is it...uh...dangerous?  

Lena:  Uh, sex with your TBI?  Maybe, honey.  I don't know.

Jesus:  Okay.  Well, can you call my doctor?  

Lena:  You want me to call your doctor and ask if my 16-year-old son can have sex?

Jesus:  Yeah.  Please.

Lena:  Okay.  Fine.  I will.

Jesus: [smiles; starts to head upstairs; stops]  So, are you gonna call now?

Lena:  Jesus!

Jesus: Well, I just-- [continues upstairs]

Lena: [scoffs]

Tara:  I so appreciated this scene.  Lena does not shame Jesus for talking about wanting to have sex, and she doesn’t infantilize him either.  Nice job, Mama.


Lena:  You wanna hear what's on my list?  Besides trying to keep my job and taking Jesus to rehab?  Callie wanted to know if she could go with Aaron to LA for the weekend and Jesus wants to know if he can have sex.

Stef:  Wait.  I hope you said no to both.  Lena...

Tonia:  First, Lena's list seems to be of obligations she has to complete and it makes me wince a little to hear Jesus's rehab listed in this manner.  I know how it feels to be listed among things people don't want to do.  And second, Stef, why would Lena say no to Jesus having sex?  You've never actively discouraged him like this before.  Oh wait, I know why...


Ana: I feel bad for him.  I just wish there were a way that he could stay in town.  I think it would be good for him and for the twins.  

Mike: He's gotta have some options.  I mean, isn't there family, or somebody who can help him out?  

Ana:  He has us.  What if he moved into the one-bedroom?

Mike:  The one-bedroom you're moving into next week?

Ana:  It would just be temporary.  Just until he got back on his feet.  

Mike:  And where are you and Isabella gonna live?  You can't live with me and AJ?

Ana:  I guess we'll just stay with my parents a little longer.  Gabe needs help.

Tonia:  Ana, if you’re moving into the one-bedroom next week what are you doing spending the night with Mike now?  Is that allowed?  Where is AJ?  Is he there?


Lena:  So, I just got off the phone with Jesus's doctor.  

Stef:  Mm-hmm.

Lena:  And after one of the more awkward conversations I've ever had in my life, Jesus is now cleared to resume sexual activity with some limitations.

Stef: Hey, well, thanks for the help, Doc.  So...if we pass this along...does that mean we're condoning him having sex?

Lena:  He's having it anyway.  What my concern is where he's having it.  I don't want it happening in a car or God knows where especially in his condition.  

Stef:  You're saying that we should allow him to have sex in the house, in his room?

Lena:  I don't know.  I mean, the kids are getting older, and part of safe sex is having it in a safe, private place.  

Stef: Great!  So, at any given time, our five kids could be having sex here behind closed doors.  What are we running a brothel?

Lena:  No, of course not!  And Jude is too young.  But I think that maybe we need to think about relaxing the rules for the others.

Stef:  Okay!  Well, think...honey...

Tonia:  Oh Moms.  From the pilot episode, you two were all about buying Brandon (16 then) condoms.  You’ve talked to Mariana about not putting her underwear in boys’ pockets, got Jesus’s girlfriend the morning after pill and had super awkward conversations with Brandon and Callie about not having sex with each other.  That does not all go out the window because Jesus has a brain injury.  I like what Lena had to say about how part of having safe sex is having a safe, private place to have it.


Jesus: Um, what is this about?

Lena:  Well, I finally heard back from your doctor and I wanted to talk to you.  I thought it'd be good if Emma were here, too.  So, Jesus was wondering about his regards to sexual activity.

Jesus: Mama, she--she knows.

Lena:  Okay.  Emma, before we start, I want to make sure that you're comfortable discussing this.

Emma:  Yep.

Lena:  Good.  Because I think it's important that you two are on the same page...with parameters.

Jesus:  Uh, like--like what?

Lena:  Well, like, um--  How do you--  How do you guys have sex?

Jesus: [laughs]  Um, the normal way.  I mean, I--I think, right?

Lena:  What I mean is...don't do anything too strenuous, okay.  No standing.  No picking up.  No in the shower stuff.  Just no acrobatics, basically.  

Emma:  Got it.

Lena:  And the doctor also suggested that Jesus be supine.

Jesus:  What's--  What is that?

Emma:  On the...bottom.

Lena: Right.  So, uh, that way, you won't exert yourself so much.  

Jesus:  Yeah.  Less work for me, no problem.

Lena:  Okay, also, um, given your circumstances, we have decided to waive the "Closed Door" rule.  For now, okay?  We don't want you sneaking off somewhere doing something unsafe.  Okay?

Jesus:  So, so I can--  I mean we--  We can do it in my room?

Lena:  I am neither encouraging nor condoning.

Jesus: Got it.

Lena:  And use protection!

Jesus:  D-done!  And done!  So, are we good?

Lena:  We're good.

Tara:  I love the follow-through!  Lena honored Jesus’s request, and now she is giving him important medical information.  This is noteworthy because it’s maybe the first time since sustaining his TBI that Jesus is shown being given full and complete information from a family member or friend.


Ana:  Gabe came by yesterday.  He's not gonna be able to help with the treehouse.  

Mariana:  Seriously?  But he--

Ana:  It's not what you think.  He wants to help.  He really does.  

Mariana:  Yeah, right.

Ana:  The thing is, he doesn't have a place to live, and if he doesn't take this job up north, he's gonna be living out of his car.  I think he's depressed.  

Mariana: Well, he could have just said that...

Ana:  He was hoping he could work something out.  Anyway, he has a new number and he wanted me to give it to you.  

Mariana:  Thanks.

Ana: You'll tell Jesus?

Mariana:  Yeah.

Tonia:  Bummer for Mariana, finding this out.  But she is super cute watching Isabella and I loved seeing Ana passing on information that Gabe wanted her to (though I’m not positive he wanted her to pass on Ana’s guess that Gabe is depressed.)  Still.  Mostly a nice job.


Emma:  This is weird, right?

Jesus: Mm.

Emma:  I mean, every time your door is closed, it's like we're announcing to your moms that we're having sex.

Jesus:  I could live with that.

[They go back to making out, Jesus starts to lean in toward her]

Emma:  Remember, don't move too much.

Jesus: Oh, right.  My bad.  [Goes comically limp and still]

Emma: [giggles]  Okay.

Jesus: [laughs too]

Emma:  Less work for you does not mean no work at all.

Jesus:  Mmm!  [Nods]

[They start making out again; Emma starts grinding against him.  She pulls back.  Jesus looks worried.]

Jesus: I think all the Mama sex talk is just like getting in my head, I guess.  [He smiles]  Screw the rules, right?  [Jesus moves so he is on top.  They make out some more.  Jesus starts grinding against Emma, but in no time, he stops, just lying beside her.]  This has never been a problem for me.

Emma:  Trust me, I know.  Maybe...Maybe it's your meds?  My aunt's on anti-depressants and she says that she has no sex drive at all anymore....  ...She's an over-sharer...

Tara:  I hate this part of the storyline, because it appears to have been completely fabricated.  Disability as a plot device much?


Mariana:  Question..

Lena:  What now?

Mariana: Gabe's homeless.  Can he move into the garage?

Lena:  [laughs derisively] Sure, why not?

Mariana: Oh, thank God.  'Cause I already told him 'yes'!

Tonia:  Oh wow, Lena.  Weren’t expecting that from Mariana, were you?

Mariana: No one's out there!  It's just empty!  Please, Mama.  Jesus needs Gabe to help him with the treehouse.  He can't do that from Tahoe.

Lena:  Mariana, it's a really big ask.

Mariana:  I know.  But I'm sure he'd only be living out there for a couple months, tops.

Brandon: [walks into the kitchen] Out where?  The garage?

Mariana: Gabe's moving in!

Lena:  Nothing has been decided yet.  

Brandon:  What about me?

Mariana:  What about you?

Brandon: I'm gonna move into the garage.  So that Jesus can keep my room!

Mariana: [sarcastically] How generous.

Brandon:  Hey, I'm the one who offered Jesus my room in the first place!

Tonia:  Well, hurry, quick, someone get Brandon a prize.  (Also, I heart Mariana’s sarcastic “how generous.”)

Mariana: You have Jesus's bed.  Gabe doesn't have anywhere.  

Jesus:  Whoa.  What-- What about Gabe?

Mariana:  He needs a place to stay if he's gonna help us, so I volunteered the garage.  

Jesus:  Well, Mama, can he?

Lena:  I really need to discuss this with Mom first.

Jesus:  But if she says no, does that mean that we don't get to build the treehouse?

Lena:  I'm sure we can work something out.  Brandon?

Brandon:  Yeah.  Of course.  Sure.

Tara:  Brandon?  Why are we deferring to Brandon, of all people, right now?  This is a parent decision - don’t push it off on your kid!

Lena:  Okay.  Jesus, your medication.  

Jesus: [sighs]  How long do I have to take this for?

Lena:  Five years, honey.

Tara:  I’m calling BS on this.  Particularly the arbitrary “Five years” line.  According to the Mayo Clinic:

People who’ve had a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury are at risk of having seizures during the first week after their injury.

An anti-seizure drug may be given during the first week to avoid any additional brain damage that might be caused by a seizure. Additional anti-seizure treatments are used only if seizures occur. (x)

Also, Felbamate has super severe side-effects that mean that it is only prescribed as a last resort.

Jesus: Are there any...side-effects?

Lena: Well, they usually list them on the bottle.  Let me have it.

Jesus: 'Side-effects include dizziness, blurred vision, skin rash and impotence...'

Lena:  Wait.  Wait a minute.  Are you reading that?

Jesus:  What?  Am I?  Whoa!

Mariana: [gasps]

Jesus: I am!

Lena: Oh my God!

Brandon:  You're reading!

[All of them rush to surround Jesus happily]

Lena:  Are you sure?

Jesus: Yeah, yeah!

Lena:  Keep going!  Keep going!

Jesus: Um, 'Take one capsule by mouth two to three times a day!'

Tara:  1. Impotence is not listed among side-effects of Felbamate.  Stop making things up to further this ridiculous storyline.

2. Apparently, the whole visual disturbance storyline existed so that Jesus could not read Emma’s letter.  Now that Brandon has removed it from Jesus’s room, Jesus can read again.  Disability as a plot device.  (Didn’t Lena say that even with the prism glasses, it could take some time for his brain to sort things out?  And literally the very next episode, Jesus is reading fluently.  Okay then.)


Stef:  Hey!  That's the happiest I've seen you since the accident.

Lena:  Oh, I know, I'm just so grateful.  

Stef: Although I am gonna kinda miss those glasses...

Lena: Well, he still has to wear them for a little while.

Stef: Yeah.

Tara: ^Adaptive equipment reduced to something cute for Moms to comment on.

Stef: ...You seem to be doing fine, making all the decisions without me.

Lena:  I'm making all the decisions because you're not here!  I had to have the sex talk with Jesus and Emma alone.  I had to deal with Mariana wanting to move Gabe into the garage alone.  

Stef:  You wanted me to take this job.

Lena:  I know.  I just didn't think I was gonna feel like a single parent.  

Stef: I appreciate everything you're doing for this family.  I do.  And I realize the majority of the burden is falling on your shoulders and I am sorry for that.  I am.  

Lena: Well, I appreciate all the extra hours you're working to make up for me being on leave.  

Stef: Okay, but it was never the deal that you do everything.  And I'm gonna try and do better.  

Tonia:  Just in case we forgot, here is a reminder that Lena is the overwhelmed, overstressed super parent with the 'burden' of doing 'everything' for the family and that Stef's working herself to the bone to make up for Lena's being on leave because Jesus got hurt.  In case it isn't clear, I despise these conversations.

Stef:  But I do think the kids can help out more.  They're old enough.  

Lena:  Okay.

[They hug.  Stef spots a bag of marshmallows on the nightstand]

Stef: Are those...marshmallows?

Lena:  Shut up.  I was eating my feelings.  And I have a lot of feelings.

Stef: And there is a lot of laundry.  Would you like me to do the laundry?

Lena: Yes, please!

Stef: Okay. [Kisses Lena, gets up]  Please tell me that you didn't say Gabe could move in?

Tonia:  Well, after consulting with Brandon, who is not only technically an adult but also apparently a co-parent of his siblings, it seems like they worked it out between themselves.  Brandon said they could work something out, so it seems like it’s all settled.  Stef, surprise.  Brandon’s your proxy when you’re not home.


Brandon: [knocks on the doorframe]  Hey.  So, Mama said you forgot to take your pill.  

Jesus:  Thanks.  

Brandon: Yep.

Jesus: Um...  Have you seen the letter Emma wrote me?  

Brandon:  No.

Tara:  Frisk him, Jesus!  It’s in his pants!

Jesus: [Puts the pill in his mouth; chases it with water]  I wanna read it.  Now that I can.  [laughs]

Brandon:  Um....  Yeah... [Turns to leave]

Jesus:  Hey, thanks, by the way.

Brandon: For what?

Jesus: For giving me your room.  Helping me with rehab.  You're a good brother.

Tara:  Excuse me while I go vomit.  For the love of everything, please stop pushing the Super Sibling angle.  It’s gross - even moreso when Jesus himself believes it.

Brandon: And you're a good brother, too.  [Leaves]

Jesus: [Turns away from the door and spits the anti seizure pill he's cheeked in to his hand]

Tara:  Also, for the record, it is extremely dangerous to stop taking anti-convulsants without a doctor’s knowledge and supervision.  (Especially for fake side effects.)


Stef: [Checks the pockets of a pair of Brandon's pants.  Finds Emma's letter to Jesus.  Opens it.  Reads: 'I was pregnant...I decided to have an abortion...'

Tara:  Annnnnd now pretty much the whole house knows.  Except Jesus.

For more:  Disability on The Fosters


  1. The sex related scenes in here in this episode are really interesting and are better than I thought. So far as I am aware a lot of people with TBI are scared they will be impotent after injury, but are not.

    1. Yes, we think that a better job was done this episode with regard to Lena taking Jesus seriously, talking to his doctor and following through with him.

      We take issue with the impotence storyline here for the way it is portrayed. Being worried about impotence post TBI is not the same as telling a story about a kid who's afraid he's impotent based on a made-up side-effect of a dangerous, last resort, anti seizure med.

    2. Yes I agree its not the same. This is just a weird way of un sexualizing him.