Review: ‘The Fosters’

The Fosters Noah Centineo
Courtesy of ABC Family

Beyond J-Lo and the premise, there's little cause to forge permanent bond to ABC Family drama

Everything distinctive about “The Fosters” — an ABC Family drama eager to promote Jennifer Lopez’s involvement as a producer — appears to have been extracted during the pitch meeting, indicating a show either built by committee or incorporating too many notes. Although the series has its heart in the right place, focusing on a lesbian couple raising teenage foster kids, as well as a birth child from a previous marriage, it’s an utterly by-the-numbers affair. Give the channel credit for trying, and the material feels tonally compatible with its other hours. Still, the premiere does little to merit laying down roots.

Callie (Maia Mitchell) is introduced receiving a beating in juvenile hall, on the eve of her release. The kindly Lena (Sherri Saum) reluctantly agrees to take her in (“It’s just for a few weeks,” she sighs), much to the chagrin and surprise of her partner, Stef (Teri Polo).

The first real clue “The Fosters” is going to be patently silly comes when Stef walks in wearing her police uniform — in this case, a pretty hackneyed excuse to have an adult with a gun and badge around, which can be handy when the going gets tough, as it inevitably does.

Callie is prickly with her new foster family (named, incidentally, the Fosters), calling the moms “dykes” and drawing a distinction between the twins they’ve taken in (Cierra Ramirez, Jake T. Austin) and Stef’s biological son (David Lambert), a talented pianist. Yet Callie isn’t the only one with issues and baggage; hers are just the freshest, and a point of introduction to the family drama.

Created by Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige (“Queer as Folk”) and directed by Timothy Busfield, “The Fosters” might ostensibly feel risky — portraying a loving lesbian couple raising a multiethnic brood, on a Disney-owned channel with “family” right there in the title. More proof that family is, after all, what you make of it — and while a laudable message in the face of lingering bigotry, for TV, not an especially ground-breaking one.

Moreover, the concept sounds more provocative than anything evidenced in the execution, and the tone is clearly designed to be compatible with “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and “Switched at Birth.” Polo and Saum are good actresses, but they appear pretty well hamstrung in their initial scenes together, as Stef and Lena banter about not taking in more stray kids, prompting Stef to quip, “We are not ‘The Brady Bunch.’ ”

Take away a few elements, though, and they sort of are.

The Fosters

(Series; ABC Family, Mon. June 3, 9 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by Nuyorican Prods. and Prodco.

Crew

Executive producers, Jennifer Lopez, Bradley Bredeweg, Peter Paige, Joanna Johnson, Elaine Goldsmith Thomas, Benny Medina, Greg Gugliotta, John Ziffren; producer, Mark Benton Johnson; director, Timothy Busfield; writers, Paige, Bredeweg; camera, Checco Varese; production designer, Rachel Kamerman; editor, Michael Jablow; music, Alec Puro; casting, Scott Genkinger, Deborah George. 30 MIN.

Cast

Teri Polo, Sherri Saum, Maia Mitchell, David Lambert, Cierra Ramirez, Jake T. Austin, Hayden Byerly, Danny Nucci

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  1. dj says:

    The show the fosters is another flop by abc family. There is a big rumor going around that Abc family is going under and that this was an attempt to see if they could draw in the homosexual crowd to boost ratings. Now they r saying instead of helping the network it looks like it has hurt their ratings even more. Looks like if they don’t get decent shows to attract what the majority of Americans want which is decent programming, we may see the end of ABC family.

    • james says:

      wow. That is huge. I had heard something like that about ABC family. I have read on a lot of postings that people are either getting ready to or have boycotted Disney because of stuff like this. I do know that the theme parks at Disney are hurting (could be the economy) but they may want to reconsider putting shows like the Fosters out there because it is a small percentage that make up the homosexual movement (lots of reportings have found this to be true). They want the majority of Americans to believe that everyone is pro-gay to help with their agenda. However, I heard now that these reports are coming out that it truely is a small minority, people are becoming aware and are coming out against the homosexual agenda. It has really backfired on them in Illinois. Hope Abc family wises up before they go under.

  2. Sade Jones says:

    I commend ABC Family for pushing boundaries and portraying modern day issues! The premise of the show include problems that many people have been facing for years and waiting to see on TV. I have enjoyed the first two episodes thus far and will continue to watch this series.

  3. Marie says:

    From the Commercials: A completely trashy series from an increasingly trashy network. I plan to boycott the series,the network and all movies that any of the cast are in including the producer Jennifer Lopez.

    • Lisa says:

      Trashy is exactly how this show should be described and because of Disney sneaking in the commercials to this type of show while my kids are watching a rated PG movie like UP, I’m boycotting Disney too. All their channels are out of my house. I was on the fence with the other channels and series Disney has but now Disney has tipped the scales on the this one. Yes, the network is showing nothing but trash at this point. The public should feel insulted that this is even on TV along with some of their other dumbing down series.

      • Sam says:

        I find it hard to believe you could call this show trashy. Two compassionate parents who work on creating a loving and supportive environment for their children is just about the least trashy thing I can think of. I agree that some of the integration of different elements have been poorly executed, but I’m on the 3rd season now and it is truly a show about family and love.

    • Kathleen says:

      I would hardly call it trashy. A likely failed attempt at being inclusive and modern, sure. They should have focused on one aspect: Lesbian couple, foster family, whatever else, instead of mixing it all together. But it is most definitely not trashy, and I seriously resent that comment being made about a network attempting to push the boundaries and open peoples minds about our current society- even if they’re not doing it very well.

  4. Deborah says:

    This is ABC Family…everything is by-the-numbers and I judge every show they come out with on the same spectrum. I don’t expect groundbreaking television from that network but I applaud them for producing a series that goes against their grain. I’ll give this show a few episodes because as you pointed out, the premise is relevant to me.

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