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.