The Fosters is known for its drama and its timely relevance, but viewers rarely tune in for a scare. Tuesday’s episode, however, certainly delivered one anyway.
After Callie (Maia Mitchell), Aaron (Elliot Fletcher), and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) attempted to warn a campus full of kids that ICE was about to raid the school looking for undocumented students, Aaron wound up caught in the middle of the chaos, shoved into an officer, and ultimately arrested. Which would be scary enough for anyone — but Aaron is trans.
Here, Fletcher talks a bit about Aaron’s situation and how filming the scene in prison scared him.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What did you think when you found out the show was even going to broach the subject of the way trans people are treated in prison?
ELLIOT FLETCHER: I never have any clue what The Fosters is going to do because they love to sort of pave new ways and do all of this really important stuff…. This was a cool story line to be a part of. I’m super-happy that they wanted to include it.
Aaron talks about how he wouldn’t be safe in a men’s prison and a woman’s prison wouldn’t be the right place for him either, and later he describes the “dehumanizing” nature of having been put into solitary confinement. How did explaining all that — and showing how much it affected Aaron — feel for you?
It was interesting to film. It was hard to film a little bit because, yes, I am playing a character, but it’s never fun to hear someone insult you or say negative things about you in a trans way, but I know it’s all fake. I think it was handled really well and I think the fact that we do highlight that trans people get put in solitary because people don’t really know what to do with trans people — which is really, really dehumanizing. I think what we get to see of Aaron in jail is pretty scary, so I hope that people sort of get the idea of how trans people are treated in prison.
Earlier in the episode, we saw that wonderfully intimate moment where Callie was sketching a shirtless portrait of Aaron. Were you at all nervous about filming that scene?
No. It’s a super-sweet scene and… it was a pretty important scene, because that is something you have to navigate as a trans person: if you want to be public about it or not…. I think it was an important scene to show and an important scene for them to have, because I think it is important for Callie to check in with Aaron about that sort of stuff…. To talk about if Aaron wants to be that public with his trans-ness or not, and it obviously leads to a whole other discussion later on in the episode after he gets back from jail.
The portrait is cool — it’s done by one of our fans, I think their name is August.
How much do the writers or producers ask for your insight on Aaron’s stories or even just some of the dialogue?
I’m always open to give my feedback and if I feel like something is written in maybe not the best way for a trans person to say, I have no problem voicing my own opinion. The writing team at The Fosters is so great because they are so willing to be open and collaborative. They go to GLAAD to get information, and it’s a really, really collaborative process and they’re so open to learning and changing the dialogue if I feel like, “Oh, this isn’t particularly something a trans person would say,” they’re like, “Okay, say whatever you want to say then. I totally trust you.” It’s really nice…. A lot of the writing on The Fosters has to do with Aaron doesn’t highlight the fact that he’s trans because he’s so much more than that.
Let’s talk about Aaron’s other big moment in this episode: that big kiss with Callie! And, of course, just when you thought this meant they were getting back together, Callie dialed it back and said she still wasn’t ready. Is she really not ready? Or what do you think she’s afraid of?
I think there’s a lot going on for Callie. Honestly, that may be a question for Maia because I don’t know how to get into Callie’s headspace. But I think Aaron and Callie — obviously, there’s still very much an attraction. I’m hoping that Callie is sort of hesitating and is going to jump right back in at some point.
Did Aaron really go on a date, or was she challenging her?
He really went on a date.
How much more of Aaron are we going to see in this final season?
You’ll get to see quite a bit. I really like the direction that we took him.
The Fosters airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Freeform.