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