ABC Family’s “The Fosters”: Two Lovely Gay Ladies Bringing Up Four Very Lovely Kids

We first heard about The Fosters when ABC Family approached us about doing an ad campaign for the show on this site (for which we were ultimately rejected because of our scandalous content, as per ushe), and holy shit did it sound right up our alley. Not only is it co-created by my imaginary best friend Emmet Honeycutt, it’s actually about “a multi-ethnic family mix of foster and biological kids being raised by two moms.” This is not an unfamiliar situation to me.

When I was a 15-year-old teenager sobbing in my bed because my Mom just told me she was gay, thus (in my baby adolescent mind) sealing my fate as an even bigger freak loser reject forevermore, I never could’ve imagined that 17 years later there would be a show on television that would represent what my family eventually became — “a multi-ethnic family mix of foster and biological kids being raised by two moms.” Well, except the “being raised” part, because my brother and I were already in college by the time my Mom married her partner, who has two foster sons (one of whom is African-American). Every time I come home, there’s always at least one new youngish human temporarily living in our house because my Mom’s partner has a big heart. (A situation which just-so-happens to also be a major feature in The Fosters‘ storyline!)

And now here we are, a family like ours featured on the network that originally launched in 1977 as CBN Satellite Service, part of Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network. ABC Family no longer affiliated with CBN or Pat Robertson, obviously, and we’ve all become endeared to the network for its lesbian representation in Pretty Little Liars and, ever-so-briefly and oh-so-surprisingly, The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

Here’s a full description of the show, which comes to us via producer Jennifer Lopez and co-creators, writers and executive producers Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige:

The Fosters is a compelling, one-hour drama about a multi-ethnic family mix of foster and biological kids being raised by two moms. Stef Foster (Teri Polo), a dedicated police officer, and her partner Lena Adams (Sherri Saum), a school Vice Principal, have built a close-knit, loving family with Stef’s biological son from a previous marriage, Brandon (David Lambert), and their adopted twins, Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) and Jesus (Jake T. Austin). Their lives are disrupted in unexpected ways when Lena meets Callie (Maia Mitchell), a hardened teen with an abusive past who has spent her life in and out of foster homes. Lena and Stef warily welcome Callie into their home thinking it’s just for a few weeks, until a more permanent placement can be found.

Callie is quick to observe that the Fosters are an atypical family, and her blunt commentary hits a nerve with Jesus and Mariana who are struggling with their own identities. The twins have the opportunity to meet their birth mother, but they aren’t sure if they are emotionally ready, or if they want to share the experience with their adoptive moms. Callie also discovers that Mariana is harboring a secret that could land her in serious trouble.

Brandon, a talented musician with a kind soul, lends Callie a hand in navigating the classrooms and social scene at the Fosters’ high school, Anchor Beach Community Charter School. He’s faced with a tough decision when Callie decides to ditch school to reconnect with someone from her past. What happens next will determine if Stef and Lena made the right choice in taking a chance on Callie, and whether they have room in their home – and their hearts – for one more.

ABC-Family-The-Fosters

Unsurprisingly, the nice ladies of One Million Moms have been horrified about this development in ABC Family’s programming since they first heard about it:

Obviously, ABC has lost their minds. They haven’t let up so neither will we. ABC’s Family Channel has several anti-family programs, and they are planning on adding to that growing list….

ABC Family reported the comedy-drama pilot, working with the title “The Fosters,” is about two women raising a “21st century,” multi-ethnic mix of foster and biological kids. While foster care and adoption is a wonderful thing and the Bible does teach us to help orphans, this program is attempting to redefine marriage and family by having two moms raise these children together. One Million Moms is not sure how the explanation will be given on how the biological children were conceived. None of this material is acceptable content for a family show.

Hollywood is continuing to push an agenda that homosexuality is acceptable when scripture states clearly it is a sin. As Christians, the Bible also says that we must speak up against sin. If we remain silent then we are guilty of sin also.

Much to nobody’s surprise, this call to arms failed miserably. (One Million Moms is part of the American Family Council, officially declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.) But the fact that this proposed boycott barely registered a blip on anybody’s radar is evidence of how far we’ve come — which means we’re undoubtedly at a place where we have the right to argue loudly not just for representation, but for responsible and diverse representation.

While the mainstream media enjoys patting itself on the back for loving family-friendly fare like Modern Family, The New Normal and Will & Grace, we’ve yet to see a gay female couple raising kids in prime-time, let alone an interracial lesbian couple raising a multi-ethnic family. According to GLAAD’s 2012/2013 “Where We Are On TV” report, 79% of LGBT characters on scripted TV and 70% of LGBT characters on network television are white. Furthermore, men account for 64% of the LGBT characters on broadcast television and 56% of the LGBT characters on cable. Interestingly enough, ABC Family is responsible for a lot of those queer ladies on cable — teenagers Emily Fields and Paige McCullers on Pretty Little Liars, and Anne Juergens and Nora Underwood on Secret Life. While it’s true that Anne Juergens and Nora Underwood both play mothers of grown children, they’re hardly the center of the show and don’t even appear in every episode. It’s unfortunate that there aren’t any female writers involved with The Parkers, but honestly if I trust any gay man to do anything right, it’s Peter Paige.

The show premieres June 3rd. I have high hopes.

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Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1781 articles for us.

29 Comments

  1. Thumb up 12

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    “ABC’s Family Channel has several anti-family programs, and they are planning on adding to that growing list….”

    Of course, because nothing screams ‘anti-family’ like a dramedy featuring biological and foster children being raised by two loving adults. The horror!

    Can’t wait to tune in for this!

  2. Thumb up 8

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    This show sounds amazing, I can’t wait!

    I think my favourite part of the One Million Moms call-to-arms was this:
    “One Million Moms is not sure how the explanation will be given on how the biological children were conceived.”
    Like there is no possible explanation. As though there is no way for a lesbian couple to have biological children. It’s almost like they expect the moms to have conjured the biological kid via witchcraft.

    • Thumb up 3

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      Okay also, I just checked out the website, and I knew it! Jesus Foster is being played by the youngest sibling from Wizards of Waverley Place!
      (How many times am I going to out myself on this website as an avid watcher of Disney kids shows? Yeesh!)

  3. Thumb up 8

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    I was very excited for this show too. Now I’m a little hesitant because they are including Stef’s ex-husband as part of the cast, and in a way that can set up the plot for the inevitable:

    “Mike Foster
    played by Danny Nucci

    A handsome average Joe, Mike is Stef’s ex-husband and Brandon’s biological father. Also a police officer, Mike requests to partner up with Stef after her regular partner leaves the department – a move that doesn’t sit well with Lena.”

    So, yea, it seems plausible that they’d go down that road. I’m steering clear of this one until it’s evident that won’t be happening.

    • Thumb up 1

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      I feel ya….I was so excited but why am I thinking of the L word now when they wanted Tina’s film to end with “lesbian turns out straight afterall” type ending?

      Honestly, I find it disappointing but hey, I kinda understand the “deal” or the “give and take” of the situation. If it’s what has to happen for a mainstream television show to “get with the times” by dipping its feet in the water so that they don’t lose too many viewers, I don’t blame them.

      But of course I hope that they don’t feel they have to do that…

    • Thumb up 2

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      This freaks me because it says he specifically requests to be her partner. That sounds to me like he’s doing this to get close to her because he still has feelings for her. It would be one thing if the guy was just around to have a relationship with his son but that description makes it sound a lot deeper than that and it worries me. I predict this will be apart of the first season finale. Stef will probably cheat on Lena but by the first few episodes of the next season Lena will take her back. Shades of The Kids Are Alright all over again.

    • Thumb up 2

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      The part about the ex worries me, too. Why, oh why, can’t two lesbians appear in mainstream and be just that? Just lesbians? Why does the viewing audience always need to interject a man?

      Yes, can you tell, I’m still pissed about the Kids are All Right? (or however that title is spelled).

  4. Thumb up 2

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    As an adoptee myself, I’ll be interested to see how they write about it/handle it. I’m almost always disappointed or pissed about how it’s handled in tv shows (Once Upon a Time, I’m lookin’ at you), but maybe this time…

  5. Thumb up 2

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    but am i the only one who even recognized danny nucci’s name as the dude from TITANIC who was best friends with jack and died when that smokestack fell on him? (uh…spoiler alert?). okay, i guess i was, but i was 12 and i was in love with him. So i’ll give his character the benefit of the doubt. Plus, he cant undermine the ENTIRE premise of the show, right?

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      Um, yeah actually, he can. Hollywood has shown time and again that they don’t think two women can raise a family without a man getting involved in some way. So seeing this kind of storyline is understandably worrying.

  6. Thumb up 1

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    “When I was a 15-year-old teenager sobbing in my bed because my Mom just told me she was gay, thus (in my baby adolescent mind) sealing my fate as an even bigger freak loser reject forevermore”

    The thought of my daughter ever feeling this way scares the living SHIT out of me :-/

    Will look forward to this series though… not enough gay Mum’s on TV full stop.

    • Thumb up 2

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      well, it was 1996 (right after ellen got kicked off tv), as we can all see i obvs had some internalized self-loathing homophobia going on, and the situation with my family life and my own psychology at the time was way more complicated than that sentence suggests. so! don’t be scared!

  7. Thumb up 1

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    … with *The Parkers*, but honestly if I trust any gay man to do anything right, it’s Peter Paige.

    I’m a little confused. But yes excitement about Peter Paige.

  8. Thumb up 0

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    “Anti-family.”

    I swear this is one of the most beautiful families I’ve seen on TV in a long time. Especially for me who has conflict with my family right now. You’d think that would make this harder to see, but it makes it easier because it shows me what a truly loving and accepting family can look like. It shows me a family that doesn’t isolate any member of it. Steph and Lena are selfless and exactly the kind of parents I want to be, seen in the episode where Steph gets angry at Brandon and Lena tells her “You don’t get to do this. You don’t get to be mad.” And sure enough she does the right thing. Sometimes they do the wrong thing but they are quick to fix it.

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