“The Fosters”: Jennifer Lopez-produced ABC Family drama reflects realities of a changing world

The Fosters
Monday, June 3
ABC Family, 9pm ET 

(Don’t miss the live-chat on Twitter with executive producer Jennifer Lopez during the East Coast premiere at 9pm. Just head to @JLo to participate.)

There’s a knowing reference to The Brady Bunch in the pilot episode of The Fosters, acknowledging how the definition of a blended family has expanded over the years.

But while times and fashions have changed, one aspect that’s similar in both series is how they seek to normalize growing realities in American families that had heretofore been grounds for making people feel like outcasts. In The Brady Bunch, it was stepfamilies. In The Fosters, it’s stepfamilies, but also divorce, same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption, mixed-race couples, multiculturalism, adoption, domestic abuse and the foster-care system. And that’s just the first episode.

“The world has just kind of become a lot more complicated in a lot of ways. This show is going to deal with a lot of those things,” says Sherri Saum, who plays Lena, a school vice principal who lives with her partner Stef (Teri Polo), a police officer. Together they are raising Brandon (David Lambert), Stef’s biological son from a previous marriage, along with their adopted twins, Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) and Jesus (Jake T. Austin). The pleasantly chaotic household gets even more so when they take in Callie (Maia Mitchell), a hardened teen whose abusive past will definitely bring up more drama.

While Saum says the response she’s heard from the public so far has been overwhelmingly positive, everyone involved knows there will be controversy with the Jennifer Lopez-produced series. But in the end it is seeking to entertain, not preach.

“Just being the show that it is, it’s going to come with its own set of challenges,” she says. “Our creators, our writers don’t need to fly this giant banner of homosexuality or whatever the theme might be. It’s just a slice of life, and they are smart enough to know not to parade around some message to people. I think that would be dumbing down for the audiences, and audiences aren’t dumb.”


The Fosters ABC Family Teri Polo Sherri Saum Cierra Ramirez Jake T. Austin David Lambert
ABC Family’s “The Fosters” stars Cierra Ramirez as Mariana, David Lambert as Brandon, Jake T. Austin as Jesus, Teri Polo as Stef, Sherri Saum as Lena and Maia Mitchell as Callie. (ABC FAMILY/Andrew Eccles)

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