Totes Love: The Fosters

The cast of ABC Family's The Fosters

Click above for a full character breakdown of ABC Family’s The Fosters

Summer is for getting acquainted with TV shows you didn’t know you’d love, and I’m not ashamed to admit it only took me a couple weeks to crush the first season and a half of ABC Family’s The Fosters.

I keep telling people it’s like Degrassi meets Seventh Heaven, but let’s be real: The Fosters is far greater than the sum of those parts.

The show follows a family headed by two lesbian moms, Lena and Stef. They’ve got five kids: 16-year-old Brandon, Stef’s biological son from a previous marriage to a man; Jesus and Mariana, 15-year-old twins who Lena and Stef adopted after taking them in through the foster system; and Callie and Jude, who we all meet in episode one, when Lena and Stef take them in as foster kids as well. Callie, 16, just got out of juvie, and vows never to be separated from sweet Jude, 13, again.

[Click here for a more detailed character breakdown -- and damn WordPress for not allowing me to embed Thinglink images!]

The show deals with the usual teen stuff. Relationships, sex, school, parties, alcohol. It also deals with more intricate, involved questions. Like what kind of relationship do you owe the birth mother who abandoned you in favour of drugs and alcohol as a young child? How do you stay connected to your ethnic roots, when being raised by parents who don’t share them? How and when do you start trusting people after a life of being ignored and abused? And how do you handle feelings of love for your new foster sibling that cross the family-member line? (That last one isn’t as bizarre as it sounds. Seriously).

The Fosters tackles many storylines in a matter-of-fact manner that’s empowering in its nonchalant nature. Stemming specifically from the attitudes of the family’s matriarchs, storylines that could feel cheesy or cliched on this show feel refreshing.

Stef and Lena are an interracial, same-sex couple, and they don’t apologize for it to anyone. They talk to their kids openly about sex and drugs without judgement or being overly preachy (or overly cheesy, I swear). If Jesus is going to have sex with his girlfriend, they’d rather he just use a condom as opposed to seeking out the morning-after pill later. When Brandon’s dad suggests he move in with him, his moms leave it up to their son to decide. And if Jude wants to wear blue nail polish to school, they’re cool with it, reinforcing he shouldn’t feel pressure from anyone to define his sexuality.

The show isn’t perfect. It certainly veers into heightened soap opera drama from time to time, and the product placement can be so prominent they build story lines around it. But for its mature treatment of family, identity, and growing relationships, I totes love it!

ABC Family just aired the summer finale of The Fosters’ second season, which means now’s the perfect time to meet your new favourite TV family.

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Cousins

How wonderful to have grown up with these crazy kids. And to confirm we all clean up real nice/know how to party.

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5 Iconic 80s and 90s Family Sitcom Theme Songs

I’m not sure we realized when we were kids we were living in the golden age of family sitcom theme songs. Along with TGIF programming equipped with warm fuzzy on-screen moments, came opening credits that by today’s standards were at least 30 seconds too long, chock-full of cheesy fun.

Today, episode runtimes grow shorter and shorter to allow more airtime for ads, meaning longer theme songs would just cut into story time. Still, the unnecessarily long theme song is a tradition I kind of miss. It was the quickest way to become immediately acquainted with the characters’ main attributes thanks to their mugging for the camera. And in the case of family sitcoms, they came with vaguely inspirational lyrics set to uplifting and catchy tunes.

Today when I watch old TV shows on DVD or online, I make sure to play the theme song through every time. I tell myself it’s the proper way to get mentally prepared for the following 22 minutes or so of entertainment.

Of course, I have my faves. Namely, the following family sitcom openings from the 80s and 90s, the first notes of which bring back wonderful waves of nostalgia.

What family sitcom theme song of the past is your fave?

Who’s the Boss

Signature establishing shot: Tony’s blue van driving the winding road from Brooklyn to Connecticut

Credits: Entitled Brand New Life, the show’s theme song was written by series creators and executive producers Martin Cohan and Blake Hunter, with music composed by Larry Carlton and Robert Kraft. Three versions were used throughout the show’s eight season run.

Inpsirational lyric: There’s a time for love and a time for living. You take a chance and face the wind.

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They Amsterdam

I Amsterdam sign at the Rijksmuseum on Museumplein
I did a lot of people watching on my solo Eurotrip last summer. When you’re wandering streets, lounging in parks and seeing sights on your own, it’s pretty inevitable.

Being a big fan of major tourist attractions, these sights proved some of the best places to people watch. They also made it abundantly clear that it’s no longer appropriate to just take in a sight. You need to document it with a photo. Or a selfie. Or a ridiculous pose.

I’m not judging. I’m the first to want my own photo of a major landmark, then a photo of myself (and my cute outfit of the day) at said major landmark. But when you’re solo travelling and people watching you realize just how ridiculous people look jockeying for position in front of the Mona Lisa, posing as if they can touch the top of Louvre pyramid, or taking selfies with the Eiffel Tower (this last one I did myself, multiple times, in multiple locations).

One of my best places to watch tourists being tourists was the I Amsterdam sign outside the Rijksmuseum on Museumplein. With just a couple minutes, you could see dozens of people young and old traverse this sign as if it’s a jungle gym. And they got creative! They climbed up the letters. They slid across them. They jockeyed for position. And they got quite a bit of joy from it all.

It’s impossible to get a photo of the giant letters without anyone else in the frame, so I took the opportunity to document some of the hilarity and madness that goes along with documenting your presence at the I Amsterdam sign. Take a look at some of my fave snaps, and keep an eye out for the cute guy in the leather jacket above. He went to great lengths to be photographed with every single letter.

(Full disclosure: I opted for a shitty cell phone selfie with the sign).

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Blessed by Kathy Najimy

I promise after this post I won’t mention my birthday again, cause after planning a party complete with a social media strategy, who really needs to hear more about my aging?

That said, I was pleased as punch that so many of my best friends and wonderful family members came out last weekend to drink, dance and eat donuts with me.

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It was everything I could’ve wanted. A safe space for worlds to collide as we broke out our literal choreography, sang along to Natalie Imbruglia, and I crowd sourced ideas for how to give my bank teller my number.

While I didn’t expect gifts, a number of my friends got real creative, and I have to highlight this gem from Renee and Conor:

Kathy Najimy signed photo

Yes, my nectarines got my a personalized signed photo of the one, the only, Kathy Najimy. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, we shouldn’t be friends.

I later took to Twitter to share the above photo, and that’s when Kathy’s blessing really became the gift that keeps on giving. Because not only did Kathy Najimy reply to my tweet, she also called me HOT STUFF:

I mean, come on. We’re pretty much besties now, right?

I try to be self-aware enough to not be one of those assholes that uses the hashtag #blessed. But when you receive a personalized signed photo from Kathy Najimy that reads “bless you,” it actually applies!

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