The Fosters

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
The Fosters TV Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Heartwarming drama about foster teens and their two moms.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 67 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 137 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The parents at the center of the family care deeply about their children, adopted and biological, and provide plenty of structure, discipline, and love. Diversity is clearly celebrated and themes of empathy, self-control, and helping others run throughout. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Parents are present and loving if realistically rather impatient with their teens, who make dumb teen mistakes, receive comeuppance, and see the error of their ways. The cast boasts stellar ethnic diversity and positive depictions of a blended family.


Discussions of past encounters with violence in foster homes. Occasional scenes of violence -- fistfights, police arresting folks, etc.


The foster and bio kids in the family are teens, so viewers can expect dating, flirting, and kissing (sometimes among very young teens); viewers will also see two partnered women in bed and kissing, though the kisses seem more companionable than passionate, though in one episode they discuss watching porn to "get in the mood." A mom offers her teen son condoms and jokes that her job (police officer) leads her to "serve and protect."


A few curses and slurs: "hell," "dyke."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One character is on ADHD medication, which his twin sister steals and sells, in one episode. Occasional social drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Fosters is a family drama about a multi-ethnic blended family headed by a lesbian couple. Viewers will see teen characters flirting, dating, and sometimes kissing, and the lesbian co-moms cuddling in bed together and kissing companionably. One family member takes prescription drugs for ADHD that another steals and sells; these and other drugs may play a part in storylines. There is mild and occasional cursing ("Where the hell are they?") and a few other offensive words, as when the lesbian couple is called "dykes." A mom offers her teen son condoms, and there are discussions about responsible sexuality. Expect occasional violence, such as when a teen girl is beaten up and gets a bloody lip and bruises. But all in all, this is excellent teen and parent watch-together fare.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byKarrie42 June 13, 2013

A foundation of love and family values

Fabulous show - I didn't expect this high quality of show on ABCfamily - but here it is. In addition to being fun and engaging to watch, the show consiste... Continue reading
Adult Written byarms August 9, 2013

Really, ABC "Family" . . . What are you thinking!!?!

I watched 20 minutes of this show with my 13 year old daughter. In that time, two 15 year old kids had unprotected sex, paid someone to buy a morning after pil... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old January 4, 2014

Don't bother with the show

This is the first show of this type that I watched. It certainly mentioned sex a lot and had images not appropriate for kids. I watched the first 4 episode and... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byAnthony3282005 April 26, 2020

The rating is spot on

Just like the rating says realistically no kids underneath the age of 14 should be watching the show because of the constant use of sex scenes and sex talk whic... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE FOSTERS are an unconventional family: Stef Foster (Teri Polo) is the bio mom of teen piano prodigy Brandon, whom she had with her ex-husband Mike, whom she left for her current partner Lena Adams (Sherri Saum). Also in the family: adopted twins Jesus and Mariana, and Callie, recently sprung from juvie and uneasily staying for "a while" with the Foster/Adams brood. All of the kids go to the beachside charter school at which Lena's a vice principal; Stef holds down a cop job with her ex-husband as her partner on the beat. "We're definitely not the Brady Bunch," Stef says about her blended brood, but a family they are nonetheless.

Is it any good?

One of the typical failings of television drama is that the characters sound more like writers trying to make a point than real people just talking to each other, but that's not the case here. The Fosters, a drama built around the idea of a multi-ethnic family created both by birth and adoption, could have so easily have fallen into that trap, with characters mouthing sounds-great slogans about diversity. But it doesn't. The Fosters makes its points without saying a word. The viewers can see for themselves that Stef and Lena are in an interracial lesbian relationship and have adopted kids of other ethnicities; they don't need to say it. Instead, they concentrate on the realistic problems that might befall such a family.

And what problems they are! Mean foster parents, lost bio-parents, divorce and the child welfare system are all in the mix, as well as all the story possibilities that might occur in any show with so many teens (four in one family, all of them gorgeous). Plus, the beachside setting of The Fosters' high school lends a jaunty, vacation-y note to the school drama: This could be the Beverly Hills, 90210 of its time. Only it's way better. Teens and adults can and should watch together; both will find something to enjoy and not much that will make them squirm uncomfortably.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Fosters compares to some of the others on ABC Family, such as The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Switched at Birth. What audience do you think ABC Family is trying to reach? Why would it want to reach this audience?

  • Almost all of the children on The Fosters are teenagers. Why would producers want to put so many teens on a show?

  • Why are all the Fosters so good looking? Is it realistic that every single family member could be on a magazine cover?

  • How do the characters on The Fosters demonstrate empathy and self-control? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

Character Strengths

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