Executive Producers: Peter Paige, Brad Bredeweg, Joanna Johnson, Greg Gugliotta, Jennifer Lopez, Benny Medina, John Ziffren and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas
Adoption. Same sex marriage. Foster care. Juvenile delinquency. Alcoholism. Teen sex.
These are just a few of the social issues The Fosters deftly covered in its freshman season.
The ABC Family drama follows Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum), a married couple raising Stef’s biological son Brandon (David Lambert), their two adopted children Jesus (Jake T. Austin) and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) and their two foster children Callie (Maia Mitchell) and her brother Jude (Hayden Byerly).
The series is brimming with heart but is never treacly or condescending to its viewers.
It is one of the rare shows on television that speaks to both its teen target audience and the adults who watch the show with them. Stef, Lena and Stef’s ex-husband Mike (Danny Nucci) are fully realized characters—devoted parents with their own problems and struggles.
It is challenging to educate viewers while entertaining them but The Fosters excels at this. The series never sugarcoats the topics it tackles. There are no easy answers or pat solutions.
In one major story arc this season, Callie must live in a group home where she meets other girls who have also entered the juvenile delinquency system.
One girl is trying to get her life together so she can be reunited with her child. Another is transgender and dealing with his parents’ rejection. Once again all their stories are handled honestly and without a pat happy ending.
While The Fosters tackles several hot-button social issues, the series also offers many different perspectives.
There are no wrong or right sides. Issues are never presented as black and white.
Jesus’ girlfriend’s parents are conservative Catholics. But instead of being against Stef and Lena’s relationship, the mother tells them “We totally support this family.” “What’s more Christian than family?” the father adds.
Stef’s conservative father struggles with his daughter’s homosexuality but loves her and the two work to have a good and honest relationship.
“We never, never, never, never want to leave even our most challenging characters out in the cold," creator and executive producer Peter Paige said during the winter 2014 Television Critics Association Press Tour. "We’re all people at the end of the day so we try to treat everyone with dignity and respect.”
The series returns for a second season beginning Monday, June 16.
— Amy Amatangelo, Special to TelevisionAcademy.com