REVIEW: ABC Family’s ‘The Fosters’ is a new kind of family welcomed by many

Last night was the season finale of one of my favorite shows–ABC Family’s The Fosters.

I knew right away from the previews of the show premiering that I was going to like it. What I didn’t know was just how much I was going to love the show. The story line is about a biracial lesbian couple who are parents to a son from one of the women’s previous marriages, two adopted former foster children and two additional foster kids, Jude and Callie, who they take in after Callie is released from a juvenile detention facility.

I’ll be honest, after the first episode I wasn’t sure if I would continue watching the show. Like I said, it was the preview of the overall season that really caught my attention. But, the first episode seemed like the story line could go in a somewhat uncharted territory for ABC Family and I wasn’t sure how well it was going to sit with viewers.

But, as the season went on I was so happy I stuck with it. I was first attracted to the show based on the story line. I can relate. I am an adoptee myself and the show touches on several different topics, adoption being one of them. Based on how well-written it is I would totally love to give executive producer Jennifer Lopez a big hug and say thank you! It truly is phenomenal so if you haven’t seen it yet I would highly recommend it.

The first episode of the first season is about a girl named Callie, who is released from a juvenile detention facility after serving time for getting into a physical altercation with her former foster dad. Upon her release she meets Lena Adams Foster, one of the main character moms, who agrees to let Callie (and eventually her brother, Jude) stay with her and her family temporarily (which later turns into permanently).

As the season progressed there was always some new surprise, new element, that I was pleasantly surprised it touched on. I think for some viewers the topics the show touches on might make them feel uncomfortable or like it isn’t appropriate for the ABC Family network, which I can agree to an extent, but, I love the show too much to care that much. Some topics have a more mature element and so for younger viewers they may notice and ask for clarification while for others it will go over their head. Either way, it’s up to a parent’s discretion on whether or not they want their children to watch the show, in my opinion.

The show touches on the topic of adoption, the LGBTQ community, foster care, mixed families, etc. The part that gets me every time and I enjoy is the portrayal of the character Jude, who at a young age, is exploring his sexuality and how to share with people he is gay. I enjoy it in the sense that I am rooting for him 100%. This aspect “gets me” every time because his character goes through some difficult times as he comes to terms and understands his true sexual identity and how to express it to others in hopes they’ll be accepting. I think it’s a fairly accurate and realistic portrayal of what some gay and lesbians experience in real life–it’s something people can personally relate to and/or empathize with.

Another aspect is adoption. The two characters, Mariana and Jesus, who are twin siblings who are adopted by the Fosters family. Mariana specifically deals with some things I myself have experienced (to a certain degree) in real life–although things that happened more so in the second season than the first season. In this second season Mariana deals with her peers asking her about her birth parents and if she has any desire to meet them and why/why not; and she deals with feeling like she doesn’t truly know who she is 100% because she is adopted and doesn’t know much about her biological roots. I myself have dealt with people asking me questions regarding my biological parents and while for the most part I don’t mind, at times it can be too much. Not because I am ashamed of being adopted or about my birth parents (I don’t even remember/know them) or anything else, but because I believe some aspects of adoption are simply private that I don’t feel the need to always share with people or with the whole world in general.

In the show Mariana “lies” (or just omits some truth) about information regarding her birth mother. She has met her birth mother before but it didn’t go as planned. Her birth mom is a drug addict and only wanted to see Mariana so she could get money from her. For Mariana this isn’t something she wants to tell just anyone as it is something that would most likely be frowned upon by society, by her peers. She tells her friends she doesn’t know anything about her birth mom and later her friends find out that isn’t true and asked why she lied. Mariana tells them she didn’t feel like it was something worth sharing.

This is where I somewhat relate to Mariana. Not in the sense that my birth mom was a drug addict (I don’t know anything about her) but in the sense I have people ask me questions from time to time, out of curiosity, if I know anything about my birth mom or dad or anything else. I get it’s mostly people asking because they’re curious but there are some times when I feel people ask to be nosy, rather than curious, and ask questions beyond what is normal curiosity. For the most part though people just ask me things because they’re curious. Like where I was born, how old I was when I was adopted.

For me I don’t have this life goal to know everything there is about my birth parents or siblings. That doesn’t say I am anti-finding out information about them but that’s something where if it happens then it happens that’s great, but, if it doesn’t then I guess it doesn’t, and that’s okay too. I think this surprises some people, particularly people who don’t have much experience with adoptees or adoption in general, because I think in their mind they would want to know, they would HAVE TO know. I however, do not. The family I have, that I grew up with since I was four months old IS my family–no ifs, ands or buts. This relates to the show because this is how Mariana feels too.

Later in this second season a guy named Mat takes Mariana to a Mexican culture festival and Mariana gets angry at one point thinking he only brought her to the festival because she is Mexican. Mariana knows she is Mexican but said because she didn’t grow up in the Latina community that she doesn’t have any real ties to what the festival offers. Also, in the season finale that aired last night, she meets with her birth mom again, thinking this time she really wants to meet with her and talk, only to have the meeting actually take place and Mariana going off on her mom. Mariana tells her birth mom she doesn’t know who she (Mariana) is because she didn’t raise her and that she (the birth mom, Ana) is nothing to her.

I felt bad for the mom in the show, as I think Mariana could have handled the situation better but again, this is something that happens in real life. Not all adoptees have this mind set but some do. Back to what I said above ^ the family I have IS my family. That doesn’t go to say I wrote off my biological mom or dad or siblings but, I don’t know them personally and they don’t know me. They’re strangers to me just like a random person on the street is. 

Overall the show provides something for every type of person–whether they’re adopted, a member of the LGBTQ community, a foster child or parent, a divorcee or child of a divorcee, etc.–there’s something every person can enjoy about this show. Like I said earlier some of these elements may be too mature for some kids now but that doesn’t mean this won’t be something they learn about as they get older. If you haven’t watched it yet I would highly recommending watching both the first and second season and hopefully the third if/when it airs. It’s a phenomenal show and one of my favorites that I can’t get enough of–second to Pretty Little Liars. Thank you to ABC Family for giving The Fosters the chance it deserves and sticking true to your motto: “A new kind of family.” That’s exactly what The Fosters is.

For more information about The Fosters check out the links below:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2262532/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_The_Fosters_episodes

http://abcfamily.go.com/shows/the-fosters

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fosters_(2013_TV_series) 

Until next time…

– Ana

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