Having Annie Potts pop up on The Fosters is always a delight. When I think about the long (and ever-growing) list of things I will miss once we have to say good-bye to the place where we belong — excuse me, beloooooong — Annie Potts as Stef’s mom is high up on that list. She brings a different, much needed energy to the show. Sharon understands the gravitas of whatever is going on in the Adams Foster house whenever she happens to visit, she is able to give meaningful insight and advice to whichever family member needs it at a particular time, but she also likes to party. She wants to laugh! She makes her family dance. Good lord, sometimes the Adams Fosters need to dance.
Sharon’s in town because we need to remember how it feels not to cry and also because it’s Mother’s Day. Obviously, Sharon is a witch of some sort because she arrives in San Diego just when her daughter needs her most.
Stef’s anxiety is only getting worse. In therapy, Stef tries to spend her time talking about what’s going on with her kids, but her therapist is like, nah, I can get filled in on that stuff by watching the “Previously on …” montage. She wants the goods. Mainly, she wants Stef to talk about Tess. There are some interesting parallels between Tess keeping her husband in the dark while she questions her sexuality, and how Stef came out while married to Mike. Stef gets upset talking about how she never wanted to hurt Mike or Brandon and how she still carries that guilt. She’s also upset thinking about how she had zero support from her own family. How in that moment she felt so alone. Stef’s therapist gives her a vocabulary lesson: Guilt is the feeling of doing something wrong, and shame is the feeling of being something wrong. Is Stef’s therapist supposed to be telling Stef how she’s feeling? I don’t care! At least we are finally getting to the heart of Stef’s problems.
Needless to say, Stef isn’t thrilled when Sharon shows up. She is especially not thrilled when she finds out that Sharon’s been having a wine-fueled catch-up with Tess, who came out to her, and now they are all going to a lesbian bar together. Hey, that sounds like exactly the opposite of what Stef wants to do!
Stef is the saddest sad person to ever enter a lesbian bar. It’s probably why she is the only one not asked to dance. Tess gets paired off thanks to a little (okay, a lot) of nudging from Sharon, and Sharon gets hit on thanks to her fabulous new haircut. She’s had experiences, Stephanie!
So, Stef ends up sitting alone on a sofa, wondering why in the world Tess would come out to Sharon but still not say anything to Dean. She’s angry and confused, and will remain that way for some time.
But maybe not as long as one would think. Mariana is starting to put the “Tess might be gay” puzzle pieces together. After a heart-to-heart with boyfriend No. 2, Mariana sees how much Logan is hurting from his parents’ separation. She confronts Lena with her suspicions, and Lena, lord help her, is honest with her daughter. Yes, Tess is exploring her sexuality. No, you may not tell Logan.
As if Lena isn’t dealing with enough already. She’s trying to stop Mariana from blowing up their neighbors’ lives, and also teach her son how not to be a dick.
Jesus has a new paraprofessional, praise be! Her name is Priya, she is young, enthusiastic, patient, and actually trying to help her client. What a world! She is also very, very pretty. That shouldn’t be a problem, except high-school boys are the worst. Jesus’s friends make some extremely crude comments about Priya and Jesus plays along. After Lena finds one of the terrible notes in her son’s homework, Jesus tells Lena that Priya is just too hot to be his para. Another one, please!
Surprisingly, Lena sort of agrees with Jesus at first. She tells Stef that she didn’t hire Priya in the first place because she assumed Priya would be too much of a distraction for Jesus. Stef puts her foot down: Lena’s a hottie with a body, so does that mean she shouldn’t be principal? If they don’t hold Jesus accountable for his actions, they are complicit in his misogynistic behavior. By agreeing with the “boys will be boys” mentality, they too are misogynists.
The conversation helps Lena understand what she needs to do, so she has a sit down with Jesus. Lena has been sexist and it isn’t going to happen anymore. She wants Jesus to be the man that she and Stef have raised him to be. She hopes that man has the courage to stand up to his friends and to respect all women, not just his moms, sisters, and girlfriend. Priya stays.
In true TV fashion, all the players come together for Mother’s Day brunch. Even Tess and Logan join the Adams Foster brood. Little do they know that all Adams Foster brunch events are filled with two things: tension and tears. The tension this time comes mainly from Tess’s presence, but also from Logan telling Mariana that he thinks he’s figured out what’s going on with his parents: His dad is clearly having an affair. Mariana is so ready to spill some tea. And not brunch tea. The other kind of tea.
The tears come from, of course, the presents that the kids heap on to their moms. (Have they never heard of a group gift?!) The highlight is Jesus’ speech, as he reads part of his college essay aloud. He was supposed to write about the thing that has most impacted his life. Originally, he was planning on writing about his TBI, but instead, he wrote about his two moms. Oh, you guys. What a lovely essay. Jesus writes about how Stef and Lena saved him and his sister. How they made him feel wanted and loved. How they never have to hope he’ll be the man they raised him to be, because that’s who he wants to be.
So, yeah, this brunch featured eggs and fruit and pancakes served with a side of tears.
All of this family togetherness should be putting Stef at ease, but once things begin to blow up — Brandon has drama going on, Mariana is going to tell Logan about his mom, etc. — Stef flees to the bedroom. Sharon follows her daughter. The scene that follows is just magic. Stef wants to know why her mother couldn’t support her coming out, but is more than there for Tess. She again brings up feeling like she was a disappointment because she’s gay. And as she attempts to say, “I tried to be straight,” Stef goes into a full-blown panic attack. But Sharon isn’t scared off. She knows exactly what to do. Sharon has her daughter touch things, hear things, and smell things until Stef calms down and collapses into her mother’s arms.
As Stef finds out, Sharon started having panic attacks around the age Stef is now. It’s not something you can really explain to anyone unless they’ve gone through it — but now Stef knows that if she needs to talk to someone who understands, she can talk to Sharon. Stef still has a lot to dive into regarding what’s truly going on with her, but it’s nice to know that she isn’t alone.
Sharon’s already saved the day, but she does one more remarkable thing before heading out of town: She throws an impromptu dance party for her daughter and grandkids. She gathers all of the Adams Fosters outside, dancing on the porch. From the looks on their faces, they all really needed it. #SharonKnowsBest
In other family news
• Grace’s slow march toward imminent death continues. Word’s out that Brandon is now Grace’s health proxy and Susan is not pleased. B isn’t really either, but he hears Grace explain to Susan that she knows Susan would live with such guilt if she had to make that kind of decision, so Brandon goes along with it. What a guy! This is going to be so sad.
• Callie and Jude visit their mother’s grave and talk about something they rarely do: their grief. Jude’s biological father, Donald, shows up too, and gives them all permission to begin moving on. For him, it’s his new girlfriend. For Callie, it’s finally taking off her mom’s locket. She doesn’t need to wear her grief around her neck.
• How dare Tess come over and threaten Mariana! She tells the TEENAGER that if Mariana tells Logan anything, Tess will make sure Logan never wants to speak to Mariana again. This is a bridge too far.
• Where is Hot Dad Mike? For that matter, where are any of the Hot Dads? If they are on secret vacation together, I’m going to be so mad.