In an embarrassingly short amount of time, I have managed to watch all 46 episodes of The Fosters culminating with the most recent episode, “More Than Words,” this past Monday. I watched the pilot on a whim and then I couldn’t stop. I was completely sucked in from the get-go. There are so many things I love about this show and it feels like my responsibility to make sure as many people as possible know about it. If you’ve never heard of The Fosters, or if you have but haven’t given it a chance yet, here’s why you should:
When Parenthood said its final farewell earlier this year, many people mourned the loss of one of the only shows that truly focuses on love and family. Had we all known about The Fosters, it likely would have mitigated our collective grief, at least in part. At its core, The Fosters is also about family, but it delves even deeper into what the word really means. Breaking down one outdated cultural norm after another, The Fosters celebrates the notion that families don’t look any one way. Same-sex parents? Check. Adopted children? Check. Co-parenting with ex-spouses? Check. It’s 2015 and families come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and genders. The love and care felt throughout the Adams Fosters house should put to bed forever the idea that there are any right or wrong ways to make family.
Gender and Sexuality
When The Fosters first premiered in 2013, star Teri Polo said “we’re not hitting anybody over the head with anything.” She’s right. There is a subtle beauty to the show. They tackle topics that are often referred to as being “controversial” but they do so in natural ways. These characters simply tell the stories of real people with real struggles who, for the first time ever, get to see themselves represented on television. Young gay teens coming to terms with their sexuality have never before had the opportunity to see characters on TV experiencing that same confusion. Now they do. Children growing up with same-sex parents haven’t seen families that look like theirs. Now they can. In the show’s most recent episode, two middle-school-aged boys slow danced and a female-to-male transgendered teenager took off his shirt to proudly reveal the scars from his double mastectomy. These are images we as a society are not used to seeing. The more we see them, the less stigmatized they become. The Fosters is helping to usher in acceptance of the unknown by making it known.
There’s nothing like a good emotional arc that pulls at the audience’s heartstrings. In this respect, The Fosters is gold. It’s not intense sadness that leaves you rocking back and forth in the fetal position, but the emotional ups and downs are often quite moving. It’s a nice opportunity for cathartic release and again, for those missing Parenthood, it fills that void nicely.
When I was a teenager I thought watching teens on television was fun because I could relate to them. I was probably right, but the truth is, teenagers are the perfect centerpiece for engaging content because all of their experiences are new and exciting. Children are innocent, adults are complicated–and teenagers are navigating the transition from one world to the other. All experiences are heightened. Everything feels important to them, and so it all feels important to us as we watch them, even if we’re well past our teen years. The complexity of being in foster care and how the children on the show deal with all the challenges that come up for them provides plenty of drama, as well.
It’s really good
My final pitch is just this: It’s a great show. Watch it.