I remember sitting in the small theater in my neighborhood, large drink in one hand, while shoving handfuls of popcorn in my mouth with the other, the ad for “The Fosters.” ABC Family was presenting a new series, “The Fosters,” and among the many teenage faces on screen, I saw the familiar faces of Cierra Ramirez (“Girl In Progress”) and Jake T. Austin (“Wizards of Waverly Place”). I was a former Wizards fan, so, yes, my interest was sparked.
That was the exact memory from the summer of 2013 that played in my head when I was scrolling for something to watch on Netflix. “The Fosters” appeared before me. I clicked. And boy, I do not regret it.
“The Fosters” is a show that entangles drama, addresses social issues, and gives life lessons through background stories and character development – just like the classic ABC Family TV-show should. However, the story follows a multi-ethnic family composed of biological, adoptive and foster children. A lesbian couple heads the home full of teenagers. The show, whose executive producer is Jennifer Lopez, is rich with love, trust, and family. Think of ‘The Fosters’ as a more modern ‘7thHeaven’.
The show follows 16-year-old Callie, as she enters the new foster home. Her and her 12-year-old brother, Jude, have had multiple fosters homes during their six years in the system – all terrible and full of problems. But this foster home is different. Vice Principal Lena Adams (Sherri Saum) and police officer Stef Foster (Teri Polo) are in a domestic partnership and built a home through honesty and compassion. Brandon Foster (David Lambert) is the 16-year-old son of Stef, from her previous marriage, and is the “golden boy” with his good looks and musical talent. The adoptive 15-year-old twins are Mariana (Cierra Ramirez), who embodies the classic teenage girl just wanting to fit in, and Jesus Foster (Jake T. Austin), the more rebellious out of the teens with ADHD.
The ethnic diversity in the cast makes the show much more unique than most. From the multi-racial Lena to the Latin descendent twins, the diversity is acknowledged and embraced. Most shows with minorities in the cast always resort to having an incident with racism and bigotry to produce a discussion. However, this has not been seen. Instead, the show introduces situations that subtly express their diversity, such as a quinceañera episode, the twins carrying conversations in Spanish, and Lena sharing how she was called an ‘Oreo’ in high school. The variety of races in the family is not something that is blatantly said – which by now, it really doesn’t need to be – but is displayed on screen beautifully to the audience.
Another hit for this tv-screen family is Lena and Stef’s relationship. The two mothers face some obstacles in a world still adjusting to the LGBT community. But despite a father failing to accept a daughter’s lifestyle, the couple is seen immersed with the love from friends and family members. The success of the couple parallels the success of ‘Modern Family’s’ Mitchell and Cameron – just minus the constant comedic quips. The couple demonstrates kindness and selflessness as the raise their children.
This television series thrives with its breaking of boundaries with the “non-traditional” family. The show relies on realistic problems that can occur rather focusing heavily on the apparent uniqueness of the family. The classic ‘let me show you rather than tell you’ applies greatly to the storyline.
It’s a show for all ages – adults and children alike can watch and learn from the Foster family. It powerfully confronts serious issues such as child abuse, drug abuse/dealing, and teenage sexuality. While most can criticize these instances, in this day-and-age, the realities of the events have proven to occur. ‘The Fosters’ deal with these issue that is suitable for any age – no need to cover a child’s eyes. Even though you may not be able to relate to every occurrence in the show, the character’s actions and emotions allow an understanding of the dilemmas they face and the morals they abide by.
“The Fosters” is an excellent TV show that leaves you hooked. Its ingenuity and one-of-a-kind storyline brings a freshness to the television realm, full of bad reality TV shows and the over-played teenage love triangles.
Seasons 1 and 2 are currently on Netflix.