Jesse and Bree clearly get along from the start: they’re both sweet, slightly awkward, kind and down to earth, but the idea of meeting the donor splits them apart. Jesse feels weird about it, but not necessarily in the way that Hilit does. He doesn’t definitively not want to do it, he just feels weird about it. When Bree meets the rest of his family, I can kind of understand why. Both of his parents, dad included, seem like remarkably open and wonderful people, both completely supportive. His mom says that they are both miracles. But his sister says, “Yeah, but I’m natural.”
All righty, then, sister. Ouch. I mean, I know that at this age—she’s 15, and he’s 18—it’s natural for siblings to be catty to each other, but this whole having-different-bio-dads thing really throws a deeper wrench into it. I sense that Jesse feels that being a cryo baby is an embarrassment, and so Bree’s search in confirming that this dude exists would only be confirmation of a part of himself that he’s already uncomfortable about.
Things get even more uncomfortable when Jesse and Bree then have breakfast with Julian, another half sibling. Julian is a year older and in college, and is clearly more stand offish about the whole thing. He also has that pretentious, arty-boy-in-college air about him, which might be contributing to his indifference. Like the other Jesse and Jayme, he was raised by a single mom who just wanted a kid on her own. He does share that he contacted the cryobank and they sent the donor a letter for him months ago, but he hadn’t heard back yet. This news clearly deflates the hope about the cryobank that Bree had previously been feeling.
Julian continues to say, however, that he doesn’t actually care if he writes back or not, and that Bree can continue to pursue him using other means, but that he views it as immoral. The donor wanted to be listed as anonymous for a reason. If he doesn’t want to be found, he doesn’t want to be found. It’s not their place to search him out.
Bree counters that you can’t jerk off into a cup and then not imagine that the offspring you produce will want to find you one day. She can’t understand not wanting to know.
This conversation is really the crux of the controversy around this issue and this show. And while I do think Bree is perhaps a little headstrong in her mission, she has been respectful of other people’s viewpoints. It’s the reverence to the man who jerked off in a cup that’s alive in Julian’s argument, and which I have seen expressed online many times since this show premiered, that bothers me and seems somehow almost misogynistic.
A man jerks off in a cup and is suddenly seen in an almost holy light. God bless his soul for giving life! And how dare Bree even be curious about him. Julian says, flippantly, “He was just making money. And that’s fine.” When a man does something with his body, and when a man asks for privacy, the world will fight to the death to defend it. Meanwhile, a woman’s right to regulate her own body is increasingly becoming illegal in many states, and already is illegal around the world. There are apparently moral implications tied to a woman’s body that are not tied to a man’s.
Yes, he asked for anonymity, and so far, nothing in this show has violated that. Bree is not pounding at his door while he shouts from the other side to be left alone. (If she does, yes, I will also feel weird about that.) He’s not even a real person right now, but an idea. The show is not about him; it’s about Bree. She’s 17, and has lots of questions about who she is, as we all do when we are 17. To call Julian out slightly on his moral superiority, if he really didn’t care at all, why would he have contacted the cryobank himself? Bree is curious, and it’s a curiosity that makes sense to me. Why do the feelings of the donor matter more than the feelings of a 17-year-old girl? They are both valid.
Jesse, while not being totally on board with Bree’s mission previously, is also put off by Julian’s black and white judgments on morals. When they get back in the car, he actually says that he feels Bree was too nice to him. Bree clearly doesn’t hold any grudges against Julian; she just doesn’t get it. And she’s coming on so strong that then Jesse starts to feel slightly attacked, too. If Julian is on one side of the spectrum, then Bree is on the other, and Jesse is stuck in between.
Back at Jesse’s house, his mom shows Bree photos of when Jesse met Hilit, Jonah, and other half-sibs when they were kids. “Look at you guys!” Bree cooes. “Everybody’s happy,” his mom says. Jesse cynically responds, “Are they?”
The next day, Jesse and Bree head out on a hike. As they leave the house, Bree says, “I shaved my armpits for this hike.” Hahaha. Jesse, this is a mark of lesbian respect. As they walk down the trail, Jesse remarks that hiking is fun. Bree says, “Yeah, I guess if you really like to be out in nature and feel like you’re dying.” Which is pretty much accurate. Bree is pretty great at breaking the tension.
Previous to this, Bree had also shown Jesse the donor information pamphlet that Mystery Man #1069 filled out at the time of donation, which Jesse had never seen before and which he was leery of at first. But as he started to learn more about his athletic, Jewish, cornet-playing donor, he saw likenesses that seemed to make him feel both comforted and more curious.