Meet J.Lo's 'The Fosters’: A TV Family Thanking the Haters for Free Publicity
With "The Fosters," ABC Family makes good on the promise of the network's "A new kind of family" slogan. And that is precisely why the actors who make up this complicated, diverse, loving, and controversial-from-pickup cable clan took the roles in the first place.
"There's nothing like it on television right now, and I love taking on projects that will get people thinking and talking," said Cierra Ramirez ("Mariana"), who is fresh off "The Secret Life of an American Teenager," at a recent on-set press day for the series that debuts June 3. "Even haters are motivators. If people aren't talking, you know you're doing something wrong."
By that logic, "The Fosters" has nothing to worry about because it's been a topic of conversation — and a target of One Million Moms — since the moment the plot became public. The drama centers on a biracial lesbian couple and their children. Stef (Teri Polo) is a cop, and her partner, Lena (Sherri Saum), is the vice principal of the school their three teens attend. Brandon (David Lambert) is Stef's biological son from a previous marriage to Mike (Danny Nucci), who also happens to become her partner at work once again in the pilot. The moms have since fostered and subsequently adopted Latino twins Mariana and Jesus (Jake T. Austin). Their lives are about to get a lot more complicated when a social worker calls in a favor and asks if they can temporarily house a troubled teen being released from juvenile detention. Their "no more kids" deal is tossed aside when Lena's "huge mushy heart" gets one look at the bruised, battered, and emotionally broken Callie (Maia Mitchell) — even though she can't reach Stef to discuss it.
Stef finds out she's working with her ex:
"In that moment, it was Lena under pressure being confronted with this child in need, broken figuratively and literally, and knowing that her alternative was so ugly," Saum explained. "I didn't have a prayer of not coming home with this child. The message of foster care in the show really resonates with me. It's really easy to change the course of a kid's life just by giving them a kind word or a little support."
Callie, however, isn't sure she wants to be saved. She's fairly standoffish, disenfranchised by the system, and desperate to reconnect with an important person from her past at any cost, even if it means breaking Foster house rules or endangering Brandon. "Callie has had a hard time in life and a lot of reasons to be angry. We're introduced to her at her lowest point. Everything has been so temporary, and she is trying to figure out her place within the home and whether to let these people in," Mitchell elaborated, before adding how excited she is to play such a complex character. "It's rare for a young person to play a character that has that much life experience and depth. You can see what she would have been if she'd had a different life and grown up loved."
Stef and Lena discuss Callie:
Unfortunately, the homecoming doesn't go smoothly as the house is too small, Stef is wary of taking in a kid with a record for safety reasons, and Callie's blunt commentary on homosexuality and adopted vs. biological kids hits a nerve with the twins who are struggling with their own identities and whether to let the mother who abandoned them back in. Further complicating things are Brandon's lack of a father figure and clingy girlfriend, Jesus's ADHD, and Mariana's misappropriation of her twin's prescription.