I have a confession – I’m a bit wary of ABC’s newest show, The Fosters. But not for any reason you might think. Here’s why.
I tend to get attached. I fall for the characters, their stories, their budding relationships – it’s exactly what, I imagine, any TV show wants of their viewer. This is exactly what happened when I started watching Bunheads, another fabulous ABC show. But now, Bunheads is in limbo, the future of the show seemingly very uncertain, and I’m worried, because I’m already in love with The Fosters. So my plan is to tell you all the reasons that you should be too, so you start watching this gem and carry it through multiple seasons like it deserves.
1. The characters and their relationships are the focus, not their appearance or sexual preference.
This is maybe obvious. The show has sort of built their promos on the diversity of the family. A blended family including different races, biological, adopted and foster children, and lesbian mothers as the parents – it’s safe to say this show is covering all the bases of what society might see as “different.” What’s great about The Fosters, however, is that while it acknowledges the different cultural aspects, it is not the main focus of the show, at least, not in the episodes I’ve watched so far. Instead, the stories are based around the characters for who they are, the decisions they make, and the relationships they form. It’s 2013, and this show isn’t making the viewer still feel like gay parents are a BIG DEAL that we should focus all our attention on, or highlighting the interracial marriage as a shockingly modern relationship. It’s just… there, and I applaud ABC for not feeling the need to hold our hand and assure us that this is okay, that this is normal. We should just know it by now.
NOT TO MENTION – the characters are ridiculously likeable, doing a fantastic job of slowly building relationships, dynamics and depths that will hopefully be able to be explored for many, many seasons.
2. The realistic high school scenarios.
Admittedly, I graduated in 2009, so maybe things have changed in the past 4 years. But from what I can tell, this portrays a much more realistic school setting for kids to be watching. It’s not realistic that students are always in the hallways, never going to class, openly passing around drugs in the bathroom, as so many shows seem show these days. But the problems they’re facing at school are legit – family show or not, we can’t ignore the fact that morning after pills, drugs, bullying and relationship problems are everyday concerns and occurrences for teenagers, not just worries that happen once a season in a 2-hour long special.
3. The actors look the ages they’re playing.
Don’t get me wrong – I loved One Tree Hill and the OC. But let’s just take a moment to thank The Fosters for casting actors who actually look like they belong in a high school biology lab.
4. The small moments are the best moments.
The little, lovelorn looks across the hallway between Jesus and Lexi, the emotional tension as Brandon and Callie stand across from each other in the doorway, the vulnerability in Mariana’s eyes as her birth mother walks out of her life again – these are the moments that make this show worth watching. Car chases, party scandals, extreme episode cliffhangers and everything else that is a standard in today’s television, is not necessary to strike a chord in our hearts. These characters win us over by simply representing all the emotions we’ve felt at some point in our own lives.
5. Paying attention to what’s different, but in a good way.
I JUST took a third year University class based on Kerouac, Ginsberg, and the Beat poets, so when Garret started talking so nonchalantly about all this to Mariana, I was skeptical. Then I saw his slam performance at the end of the episode and was moved to tears. Thank you, ABC, for going against the norm of an indie guitar concert or a town movie night (not that there’s anything wrong with that, either), and educating your audience while still entertaining them. And in case anyone doubts that a 15 year old would already possess enough talent to perform a piece of that magnitude, check this out.
6. Open communication about sex.
As previously mentioned – it’s 2013. This show is a great example of the kinds of open communication that should be happening in a household between parents and their teens about sex. By placing shame on it, building it up as something so grand and extreme, as so, so many shows have done in the past (IE, a certain show that centers around a teen pregnancy, the repercussions, and sex being the only thing on any character’s mind at any given time). It still includes the controversy that I understand, particularly in our neighbouring American nations, is a big topic of conversation and debate. Yet, the relationship and conversation between the parents and teens is honest, whether or not a consensus is immediately reached, and this is what families should be aiming for.
Yes, it’s got all this great substance, wonderful character development, and characters worth emotional investment. But beyond all that – this show is FUNNY. It’s heartwarming and diverse and has so many different story lines, that are all current and identifiable and often humourous. While likely defined as a drama, The Fosters has a great mix of funny and serious, which ties together into a fantastic show.
These are only just a few reasons that The Fosters is THE show to be watching this summer. But don’t take my word for it – head on over to ABC and check it out yourself. Do it fast! Don’t let this show fall into the jeopardy that so many wonderful shows before it have done – give it the chance it deserves to make a difference in the television we watch together.