This Fool (Season 1) Recap & Ending Explained: Based on the experiences of comedian Chris Estrada’s real-life, ‘This Fool’ is a new Hulu series set in South-central California. It is an irreverent, yet endearing half-hour comedy that deals with characters from the working-class neighborhoods of Los Angeles. The show revolves around Julio Lopez (played by Chris Estrada), a 30-year-old who still lives at his mother’s place. He works at Hugs Not Thugs, a gang rehabilitation non-profit. The story is mostly focused on his relationship with his older cousin Luis (Frankie Quinones), an ex-gang member who got out of prison after more than a decade and moved in with Julio and his family.
Besides Chris, This Fool also stars Michelle Ortiz as Julio’s on-and-off girlfriend Maggie, Julia Vera as Maria – his grandmother, Laura Patalano as his mother, Esperanza, and Anna Lamadrid as his sister, Rocio. The biggest attraction for many including me is The Sopranos veteran Michael Imperioli playing the role of minister Payne at Julio’s NGO. Let’s find out what happens in this season of This Fool.
This Fool Season 1 Recap
The season 1 of ‘This Fool’ starts with an introduction to the NGO Julio works at. Further, the series introduces us to the background of his character and the relationship he has with Luis. There is a flashback that shows Julio hiding behind a car when Luis was driving by his home and shooting outside. Suddenly, he sees his little cousin roller-skating and makes fun of him with a homophobic slur. From the way he narrates this story, it becomes clear that he is proud of the path he has chosen despite not being perceived as daring as Luis. Despite the constant comparison, he decides to help his older cousin to reform through his NGO.
However, Luis, who had seen life outside almost 15 years ago, finds it hard to adjust to the new, changing environment around him. He does not have the vocabulary to converse with them and ends up being offensive to those around him. Julio even tells him how his references and humor have become old and stale by today’s standards. But he does not listen to Julio right away. The first task for Luis at the NGO is to prepare cupcakes, which he first considers not enough manly, yet goes along with it right after. He learns it from NGO’s unhinged chef Percy (Jamar Malachi Neighbors). While he makes fairly good cupcakes, Julio does not want to give him satisfaction and tells him that they’re not that good. Afterward, they have a heartfelt conversation where Luis mentions how calling Julio gay made him feel as good as before and how he says it to get the same level of love & respect from his peers. Julio mentions how he needs to grow from this phase and get along with the changes.
In the next episode, Luis gets into an argument with Davonte (Hassan Johnson) with whom he used to fight before going to jail. They decide to fight again later that day which is why Luis roams around the town with Julio & chef Percy in search of his compadres. While one of them died, another one chose to reform and not to get into fights like before. One of them is frustrated with his reformed, boring life and gets right out with a gun in his hand. Since Luis was just looking to get into a street fight and not kill anyone, he runs off right away! Due to one reason or the other, he can’t gather even a single person besides a kid of one of the gang members. At the last moment, Julio decides to tag along with him. When they finally reach the spot, they find out that even Davonte couldn’t bring anyone with him besides his grandfather and a corgi. In the end, they choose not to fight and find a quarrel happening between some younglings nearby. That puts a smile on their face and reminds them of their past and the immaturity with which they fought together.
The third episode starts with Luis flirting with some women on a street in the demeaning way he was used to. He fails miserably in all his attempts of catcalling and ends up making a joke of himself. Later in the episode, minister Payne explains the importance of closure in one’s journey which impacts Luis emotionally. They visit the home of one of his exes and where Luis decides to make amends for the past mistakes and get his ring back from this woman. She tells Payne that she would accept Luis’ apology if she can kick him in his balls!
She kicks Luis over there but that does not satisfy her. So, she does the same with minister Payne. They go to sell the ring but find out that it was worth hardly anything. Meanwhile, Julio goes on a date with another woman as a way of moving on from Maggie. During the date, he gets her phone call telling him about losing his pet rabbit. Despite the tempting date, he decides to help Maggie find it. While they have a great day together finding it, he thinks that Maggie made up the lie of having a rabbit just to get close to him. This angers her and she throws him out of her house.
On his birthday, Julio tries to sneak out of his house just like every other year. Apparently, he doesn’t like celebrating it because of self-loathing. He even goes out for a dental treatment where the dentist himself does not wish to help him since it is his birthday! Soon after, he receives a call from minister Payne for an NGO-related emergency. He rushes there and finds out that Payne lied and that everyone is planning to celebrate his birthday. He manages to run away and go home. But even there, they manage to get hold of him and take him to a bowling alley to celebrate. Over there, Payne mentions how the thugs want to celebrate his birthday since he helped them big time. After this heartfelt conversation, Julio tries to bail on this birthday celebration which is when he finds Maggie coming with her date – Julio Tambien. He thinks that she has brought this guy to make him jealous and decides to win her back with a win in the bowling competition. Despite his win, he does not get success in it.
In the rehabilitation program, Luis still does not seem to have taken things seriously. He does not finish his homework and makes fun of other people when they were being vulnerable. And, ends up making a fool of himself. Luis even arrives in a Dinosaurs costume and goes on with his Austin Powers anecdotes but fails in cracking up even a single person. They sent his to the therapy where he has an illuminating conversation with the therapist. Later, Julio goes to the therapist and shares some details about his relationship with Luis – especially his desire to constantly ‘check’ on him.
In the group session afterward, Luis presents a surprisingly refreshing viewpoint that makes others empathize with him. But Julio can’t stomach Julio’s growing popularity. They go to a therapy session together after which he is assigned another case manager. While Julio allowed him to make mistakes and did not note them down as much, the new case manager started writing him off as he should. As a result, Luis started missing Julio while Julio also missed him since they were used to being together all the time. Their argument about this issue ends on a sweet note where they head out together – only to get their car stuck in between two vans in the parking lot!
The next episode shows Esperanza at her workplace, cleaning off stuff from the office and meanwhile, stealing some of it. One of those items is a different kind of toilet paper that Luis does not like to use because of its unpleasant experience. She mentions that they have to use only the things she brings or otherwise they are welcome to leave. This does not sit well with Luis who compares it to his time in prison. Later, in the night, Maria wakes him up and hands him a softer toilet paper. They even go out together to eat food from McDonald’s even when Esperanza doesn’t allow them. Meanwhile, Julio catches a thief stealing their waste from recycling. He tries to stop him, but the thief defends himself saying that Julio’s broke but he’s poor which is why he needs it more!
He lets this thief take this dump along with him – who praises him, calling him a good guy. Every other day, he starts helping this poor fellow since it gave some kind of kick to him. Sometime later, when he goes a little too far in helping him out, their carts full of recyclable waste are hit by Julio’s car – being driven by Maria with Luis in the next seat. Their rebellious attitude does not sit well with Esperanza who decides to scold them. But Maria fights back and tells her how all of them, including her, should be able to enjoy their lives the way they want. They need not suffer just because the past wasn’t ideal. This shows an inbuilt attitude in an immigrant household that is hard to shake off where enjoyment always comes secondary to survival.
In the next episode, Julio is supposed to take care of Rocio’s children because Rocio won’t be home with them. However, they do not want to stay with him for an entire day since they find him boring. At that moment, Maggie walks asking Julio to go out with her to help her with something urgent. As a result, the kids decide to stay home with Luis. Once they start driving, Julio finds out that Maggie lied about her important work and that she just wanted to spend a day with him, going on a hike together. On the spot of the hike, they see a cringeworthy, white couple engaged in their romantic enactments and have fun making fun of them.
At home, the kids confess to Luis that a kid at their school bullies them. However, the bullying isn’t what Luis expected it to be. That kid shares some memes making fun of them which is why they go to his house to take revenge. At his house, Luis finds out that the bully kid’s father had bullied him when he was in school. In a hilarious sequence where the old bully ends up stabbing himself, Luis and the kids manage to run away. Meanwhile, on the trek, Julio seems to have an allergic reaction to the cookies Maggie made (since he was lactose intolerant and the cookies had butter in them). Somehow, even in this hilariously silly situation, they manage to romantically bond with one another.
At the suggestion of minister Payne, Luis goes out to make amends to the people he has wronged as a part of learning personal accountability. He goes to the house of a thug that he had shot in the ass just for fun and apologizes to him. This thug tells him how this isn’t his but the devil’s mistake and how he shouldn’t be the one feeling sorry about it. This creates a fixation in Luis’ mind and makes him want to do things without any repercussions (since everything wrong would be the devil’s fault!) Meanwhile, at home, Julio and Maggie are asked by Rocio’s son – Michael (Cruz Legaspe Garcia) to be his Nino & Nina (godparents) at his first communion. While Maggie seems delighted by it, Julio seems a bit apprehensive – mostly due to his fear about their relationship lasting for a long period. He tries to scare Michael away from letting Maggie in on it but ends up making her get mad at himself. Later, Julio accepts his fear of Maggie, and they plan to buy a new place and move in together outside his mother’s place.
Rocio wants somebody to be Michael’s godparent, no matter who, just for her mother’s satisfaction, and not because she is religious. She even feels okay with Luis taking the charge until this plan of hers backfires – with him teaching Michael the lesson he learned about the devil. Later at the party back home, their mother confesses that she doesn’t believe in God either and the reason why she is doing it is because of her mother! The perpetual cycle to abide by the traditions for the sake of elders becomes the crux of this episode’s theme besides discussing the nature of our belief system in everyday situations.
In the ninth episode, Julio and Luis find minister Payne resting in one of their shipment trucks. Apparently, he has been sleeping there for a while because of not able to pay his rent. Later, they discuss the lack of funds to run their NGO when Julio advice to suck up to one of the wealthy people and get their money to run the organization more smoothly. While Payne initially disagrees since it doesn’t align with his principles, he agrees for the sake of the betterment of Hugs, not Thugs. With the help of Maggie, Julio is able to bring a billionaire couple to their rehabilitation center in order to fund their NGO.
At the organization, the couple arrives and goes through the elaborate play created by Julio in order to make these rich folks tear up and get money from them. During their discussion together, Payne manages to control his anger & resentment towards the entitled brats until he can’t. He erupts into a rant in hopes of making them feel guilty for their privilege. While the couple shows gratitude for his honesty and the meeting takes a surprisingly pleasant turn, it doesn’t take long to go bad. The couple finally shares, in an Eyes Wide Shut style, their weird kink towards the poor people and asks minister Payne to have sex with the wife while the husband watches this sexual encounter like a little kid. Payne decides to go along with this embarrassing request for the sake of Hugs, not Thugs.
This Fool Season 1 Ending Explained
Towards the end of 1st season, Luis seems to have changed quite a bit from how he was when he got out of prison. The change reflects in how sees the world and how he reacts to the things happening in his life. The last episode begins with Grandmother Maria engulfed in cleansing the house. When Julio and Luis show up, she mentions how the house is filled with bad energy and the need for spiritual cleansing. While Luis agrees to go through it, Julio decides to shrug it off and go out for a run like every day – only to be fallen over some radio-controlled cars! The episode titled ‘A Fresh Start’ shows the same new start for its characters.
Later, Luis goes out to buy a new suit and becomes successful in getting hired by the same shop. Meanwhile, Maggie and Julio work on getting their new place. Somehow, on the night he submits his application, the oven from his NGO explodes. The next day, while he is caught up in organizing a graduation ceremony for the thugs getting out as reformed people, Payne asks him, and Luis informs about the terrible incident and asks them to tag along with him to bring a new oven. They go out and try to purchase an oven at a cheap price but somehow manage to mess it up by crashing into their own van – which bursts into flames. The streak of bad luck continues, and minister Payne decides something about the NGO. In the end, during the graduation ceremony, he talks about the closure of the Hugs, not Thugs due to financial reasons. He even explicitly mentions the details of what the rich couple expected him to do and how to couldn’t go with it despite the lofty amount they were willing to pay.
After this closure, Julio gets sad since it means the loss of a job and a steady income. Even when he manages to get Maggie’s desired place, he seems worried. During their conversation, he spurts out something which shares his financial anxiety along with his fear of commitment to being in a relationship with her. That results in him emotionally hurting Maggie, being thrown out of her house, and thus, needing a fresh start – just like his cousin Luis. Later when he gets home, he goes through the spiritual cleansing with his grandmother even if he was adamant to do so earlier. The episode and the season end with him living in his mom’s garage along with Luis.
While This Fool (Season 1) uses the age-old tropes of sitcoms, it feels refreshing due to its efforts in breaking stereotypes. The journey for these characters might be fairly predictable, what makes it endearing is the compassion it has for these working-class people and the abundance of wholesome humor packed into the span of just its ten episodes. Although, there may not be something particularly thrilling in terms of character development, the characters stay with you due to the fantastic performances and comic timings of the incredible actors. The season also works because its humor is born in places that constantly try to shatter generalized notions about the ethnic groups to which the characters belong. The little, everyday moments shine through this irreverent comic series, which hardly ever has a dull moment.