×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Fosters

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

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

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

More TV

  • Anthony Scaramucci to participate in the

    Anthony Scaramucci Light on Trump Talk in 'Celebrity Big Brother' Premiere

    CBS reality show “Big Brother” loves to tell its audience to “expect the unexpected,” but things went pretty much according to the assumed with Anthony Scaramucci on the second season premiere of the celebrity edition of the show. Right from his introductory package, Scaramucci had to acknowledge he was fired from the White House, “for [...]

  • 76th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS --

    Tyler Perry: 6 Lessons He Shared at NATPE's 'Living the Dream' Summit

    MIAMI — Tyler Perry took time out of his “Madea’s Farewell” live stage tour and spent his Martin Luther King Jr. holiday giving an inspiring speech to aspiring producers and students gathered here for the annual NATPE convention. Perry was the keynoter Monday at the conference’s first ever “Living the Dream: A Career in Content” session [...]

  • Why Megan Mullally Won't Talk Politics

    Q&A: Why Megan Mullally Won't Talk Politics While Hosting the SAG Awards

    Megan Mullally is funny. The “Will & Grace” star can also sing and dance. While she’s not picking up the Oscar hosting gig after the Kevin Hart fiasco, Mullally will take center stage on Sunday, Jan. 27 when she makes her debut as the host of the 25th annual SAG Awards. Variety caught up with [...]

  • New England Patriots running back Sony

    CBS and Fox Cheer Big Turnout for NFL Conference Championships

    Sunday’s AFC and NFC championship games were nail-biters that went into overtime and sent viewership into overdrive. CBS harvested a whopping 53.9 million viewers as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady led his team to their third consecutive Super Bowl berth in a hard-fought primetime game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Viewership for the AFC [...]

  • RENT: Top L-R to Bottom L-R:

    TV Shows to Watch the Week of Jan. 21, 2019: 'Rent,' 'Celebrity Big Brother'

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Rent: Live” airs on Fox and “Celebrity Big Brother” returns for a second [...]

  • Black Monday: How Showtime Dusted Off

    'Black Monday': How Showtime Dusted Off An Old '80s Logo For Its New Comedy

    Cocaine’s a hell of a drug, but you’re not seeing things: That, indeed is Showtime’s old 1980s-era logo pasted all over marketing materials and promos for “Black Monday,” a tongue-in-cheek tale of the excesses exhibited by Wall Street traders in the lead-up to the stock market crash of 1987. The logo, which hasn’t been in [...]

  • 'Russian Doll' Review

    TV Review: 'Russian Doll'

    This is a particularly tricky review to write, but not because the merits of “Russian Doll” are at all ambiguous. On the contrary, the show is so striking and smart that I made a note to include it on my favorite TV shows of 2019 immediately after blowing through the season — which is saying [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content