The world can be a shitty place, and human beings can be awful.
There is a notable shift in the tone of Freeform shows, The Fosters included. This show doesn't pull any punches or mince words.
As evident in The Fosters Season 5 Episode 6, there's a rawness to the show's ability to address controversial issues without dancing around them. This season's approach of presenting them, straight up no chaser, is already making it stronger than the previous season.
Protesting hate speech was a fraction of the hour, but it could not have been more timely. The Fosters' trick to being one of the strongest family dramas on air is its ability to stay relevant.
For an installment that was essentially anti-hate speech, it was nice that there was no censorship. Jude and Taylor's internet trolls were brutally homophobic and sexist, and we saw that. That snot-nosed, gamer brat dropped a homophobic slur with ease.
I was Team Noah on the gaming video thing. There is only so much ugliness you can listen to after a while.
Jude: I'm sorry, but does it really matter what we do if we aren't together?
Noah: It does if you lie about it.
Jude is growing up before our eyes. It was a proud moment when he confidently and openly called himself gay (which if I'm not mistaken, he didn't use to do).
It was also a shining moment for him when he and Taylor didn't let the trolls and harassment get them down and continued to do a positive video for gamers. Unfortunately, he lied to Noah. Not cool.
Then there is activist Shawn, who cut right to the heart of why he didn't want the paid speaker at his school.
He cited the political administration, referenced the woman's crass comments about immigrants and people of color, addressed the defacement of property at Jewish cemeteries, and referred to the "build a wall" chants and "make America white again" sentiment.
Since the election, there's been a huge rise in incidents of racist, homophobic, and xenophobic harassment across our country. We've seen graffiti with statements of "Make America white again," Jewish cemeteries vandalized, and kids chanting "Build a wall." Shiloh McMullen has referred to immigrants as third world trash, and she said that people of color have contributed nothing to society. If our university won't block this woman from spewing her hateful speech on our campus then we will.Shawn
Yes, The Fosters went there with zero damns given.
But, the hour used the opportunity to present a different viewpoint, albeit one that was still adjacent. If you aren't an Aaron, you know one. He comes across either reasonable or frustrating and maybe even privileged.
His position was very "middle of the road" and not unlike a large population of Americans in a politically charged climate. He didn't agree with the hate speech; he technically belongs to one of the many demographics who face the brunt of it, but he didn't want to censor it.
Aaron was the one to present the case that Free Speech is a protected right even if he doesn't agree with what's being said. He pointed out that Shawn and the rest of the students are their own form of extremists, guilty of snap judgments and refusing to listen to opposing viewpoints.
They're arrogant in their belief that they're right.
As frustrating as it may be to hear it, Aaron wasn't wrong. In fact, the moment Aaron declined Shawn's offer to protest and stated he respectfully disagreed, Shawn immediately jumped to the conclusion that Aaron was okay with hate speech. Ximena just dismissed him as another white dude who wouldn't get it anyway.
Shawn: I hope you'll join the protest if it comes to that.
Aaron: I don't think so. I disagree with you all on that one.
Shawn: Really? You into hate speech?
Aaron: I'm into free speech. I think the best way to fight hate is to confront the hater. Debate them publicly. Expose their ignorance.
It's similar to how Shawn, good intentions aside, all but shamed Callie into signing a petition and getting involved. He never took the time to understand anything about Callie's reluctance.
And Callie, for her part, wanted to defend Aaron. Unfortunately, her doing so was once again a matter of nearly revealing that his being transgender made him a card carrying member of the cause.
It was her "he's a white guy, but he isn't that type of white guy because he's Trans" moment that she was holding back on. Aside from their different viewpoints, the challenges that may arise in their relationship over his trans secret will be interesting.
She has previously outed him before and has to restrain herself from doing it again just to prove a point.
While Aaron's position was strong and his points sound, it just goes to show that these issues and stances are messy and not nearly as cut and dry as we'd like them to be. Ximena wasn't wrong to shut down on Aaron
It's wrong to assume that he's okay with hate speech, but it's true that he is still coming from a different place. Callie pointed that out, and Aaron, for all of his distaste with Shawn and the college kids, got predictably defensive.
No one wants to play the "Oppression Olympics," but everyone experiences the worst that society has to offer differently.
Up until his transition, Aaron lived in a stable, middle-class household as a white person. Even now, it's no one's business that he's transgender and safety is another reason for not sharing the fact, but as a result, he faces the world that just views him as a white guy.
Callie: She can't hide that she's Latina.
Aaron: You think I'm hiding? It's not deceptive of me to not disclose my private medical records.
Ximena doesn't have the option of not facing the world as Latinx, and neither does Mariana and Jesus. Lena can't opt-out of being viewed and subsequently treated as a black woman.
Their experiences with bigotry will always be different and raw, and a lifetime of hearing hate speech directed at them is tiresome.
Aaron is caught up on how things are supposed to be. There was a naivete to his comment about Ximena being protected by DACA. Sure, she should be, but that hasn't prevented those protected from being deported.
Callie still has that naivete, too. She wanted to fight for Kyle, but the kid just wanted to keep his head down and not make any waves. The justice system isn't foolproof or flawless.
Aaron's concerns were reasonable because apparently, Callie was naive enough to believe she could peacefully protest in this day and age and not get arrested.
This is why Callie needs to lay low for a bit. She can't afford to get in any more legal trouble, and she doesn't have the best of luck
She could still end up collateral damage if Detective Gray finds out that Stef is gunning for him. Apparently, it's mom's turn to be reckless.
Detective Gray and Patrick the pedophile NEED to be taken down, but it would suck if Kyle is caught in the crosshairs. The kid has been through enough. Stef needs to find another way and leave Kyle alone before he ends up dead.
Kyle, listen to me. I will not let anything happen to you.Stef
Everything with Cortney needs to die, too. All of it.
Brandon went on the worst date ever with his ex-girlfriend and his current girlfriend. How does he get himself in these situations?
Cortney, and Grace being so insecure in her presence, was just painful and awkward. Why did Grace make that comment about Mason? She knows Mason isn't Brandon's kid, right? Why do they need to be in each other's lives because of Mason?
Now there's something brewing between Gabe and Cortney. Abort this storyline, right now!
Let the record show, I was emphatically shaking my head and whispering "please don't do this" the moment they shared a scene. At the beginning of the hour, I already saw the writing on the wall, and the end of the hour confirmed it.
Please, please, please don't do this. Only one of them is likable, and neither of them has an ounce of stability to make this work. It's so impossibly messy.
Here's the thing; Choices you make today can stay with you your whole life, and as far as Ana goes, do I wish that it had been different? Yeah, I do. She was my first love, maybe the only one I'll ever have, but it's too late. You don't want to end up carrying around all of that regret. Trust me.Gabe
In addition to that, Jesus pulled a "Mariana" and meddled in Gabe and Ana's relationship. Nothing Gabe said to Jesus supported Jesus' youthful, misguided pipe dream that Gabe and Ana would reunite. Nothing.
Now, after one conversation, Ana backed out of telling the twins she's engaged and may be rethinking things.
Mike was happy. He was so happy Brandon couldn't even be pissed that AJ knew first. Brandon even set aside that Ana stole from him once.
Although, how hypocritical was it that Brandon was suspicious of Gabe and Ana, all the while his ex-girlfriend lives a few feet away, and he has to keep assuring Grace nothing is up?
Jesus should have kept his mouth shut. It was his turn to be the problematic twin of the hour.
It's fantastic that he's not dropping out. It's not fantastic that it's contingent on what Emma thinks.
The relationship between Emma and Jesus has run its course, and Jesus is the only one who doesn't see it. He also failed to see that Emma is not the type of girl to marry a high school drop out.
I wanted to give it to you as a promise ring. You know, until I could get you something nicer. Emma, I don't want to have any regrets in my life, and I know that you're the one, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.Jesus
Emma needs to break up with Jesus and stop staying out of pity and obligation. It's not fair to either of them.
Emma has goals and plans that don't include Jesus. That's perfectly okay.
She's the type who will casually date while focusing on her career. She'll climb the ladder of success in whatever her field is, and if/when she settles down, it will be with an equally as headstrong, focused, and successful person.
Jesus is too family oriented, and his priorities don't line up with hers. He's not as mature at the moment either.
He didn't make the decision to stay in school because of anything his parents said, or because Gabe reminded him of how difficult life is without a decent education. He made the choice because Emma wouldn't respect him otherwise.
So, Foster Fanatics, give me some feedback here. Did the topics of this episode feel will too familiar? Are you for or against a Gabe and Cortney pairing? Hit up the comments below, pretty please with sugar on top!
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Jasmine Blu is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.