Hey TV.com, Should I Watch ABC Family's The Fosters?


Of all the basic cable channels that have expanded their original programming in recent years, ABC Family has built one of the more eclectic (or, if you’re feeling ungenerous, one of the less stable) brand identities. Its offerings have included broad sitcoms in the ABC-in-the-’90s T.G.I.F. mold (Melissa & Joey), staid family dramas that recall the network’s Family Channel roots (The Secret Life of the American Teenager), and mildly lurid, social-media-friendly soaps that would make Pat Robertson choke on his own spleen (Pretty Little Liars).

Into that hodgepodge steps The Fosters. Like one of ABC Family’s most lauded shows, Switched at Birth, this new family drama aims to preserve its genre’s wholesome core while subverting its traditional nuclear dynamics. It’s an admirable approach on paper—but does it translate into quality viewing?


Who are these Fosters?

Like a cardiologist named Hart or a woodworker named Carpenter, the Fosters are an aptronymically named clan. Spouses Stef Foster (Teri Polo, Meet the Parents) and Lena Adams (Sherri SaumIn Treatment) are raising biological and adopted children alike: Brandon, Stef’s son from a previous marriage; Marianna and Jesus, adopted twins; and, as of the pilot, a new addition named Callie.


Who brought this bustling household together?

Queer as Folk veterans Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige are the creators and showrunners, and Jennifer Lopez serves as executive producer. In addition to Polo and Adams, the brood is rounded out by alums from various Walt Disney Company properties, including David Lambert (Aaron Stone), Cierra Ramirez (the aforementioned Secret Life), Maia Mitchell (Teen Beach Movie), and Jake T. Austin (the Waverly Place wizard who wasn’t Selena Gomez or Ted Mosby’s son).


When should we gather for family togetherness time?

The Fosters welcome you into their home on Monday, June 3, at 9pm on ABC Family.


Who will want to keep the company of The Fosters?

Well, if you have fond memories of any of those show credits I mentioned above, this might be right up your alley. Otherwise the pilot aims squarely for fans of domestic drama: parents and children figuring each other out, teen coming-of-age quandaries, the sort of emotional wounds only loving relatives can both inflict and balm.

Also, if you dig those TV high schools with expansive outdoor grounds (including a frigging beach), here’s one more!




What makes this family functional?

A multi-ethnic, bilingual family headed by a married lesbian couple represents the sort of diversity of experience that’s far rarer on American TV than it is in actual American life in the 21st century, so that’s refreshing. The pilot neither glosses over this unique permutation nor seems to demand credit simply for offering it. There’s a sense that the characters’ different backgrounds will inform them as people without defining them—sort of like, y’know, real people.

Polo and Saum are the strengths of the cast, with both actresses bringing a a lived-in, slightly world-weary affection. Also, at one point, a musically inclined character breaks down his art in a way that suggests the show might be interested in exploring such aesthetics, which could give it another differentiating shade.


Sure, sure, but it’s still a family—so what makes them dysfunctional?

Every piece of the pilot feels by-the-numbers. The pacing, direction, and dialogue are mostly down the middle—occasionally clunky, occasionally lively—but that’s not uncommon for a pilot, and future episodes could tilt either way. At one or two points, character development is elided too quickly just to move the plot along. The conflicts it establishes are nothing anyone who’s been watching TV a while hasn’t seen before. An initial feint toward intriguing moral ambiguity is almost immediately wiped away.


Final verdict: Should I watch it with my own family/pets/houseplants to whom I am weirdly close?

If family dramas are your speed, there’s enough in The Fosters's premise to set the show apart and make it worth checking out. If you’re not an aficionado of the genre, maybe trust those who are to let you know if it makes the leap to Switched at Birth / Parenthood levels down the road.


Can I see a trailer?

Aquí está:




The Fosters debuts Monday, June 3 at 9pm on ABC Family. 

Comments (53)
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I really am enjoying the new series the Foster.
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oh yes its awesome
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I'm pretty sure this show is targeted at the .1% of the TV viewing audience that includes SoCal critics and that's about it.
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Not awful. Then again I'm not big on Family Dramas, or tv shows that are just dramas w/o sci-fi/fantasy/mystery somewhere in there.
Reminded me of The O.C. for a bit, mostly because a family taking in a troubled child part. The lesbian/interacial bit doesn't seem to be that big of an angle nor rubbed in your face which is nice. I can them running into a few troubles with being gay/interracial, but it's not a focus. Nor does the show feels like it's catered to the gay community. And feel like anyone that's a fan of these sort of dramas could definitely enjoy it.
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Never liked Teri Polo, don't like the lesbian angle, but like the interracial part.
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Can't wait!
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I definitely want to check it out. Seems enjoyable. I like the creators of the show and it's refreshing that it's a lesbian couple.

But yeah, I wish they'd renew Bunheads!!!!
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I think I'm going to like it:)
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Pass-Bunheads please !
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That sounds like Parenthood to me
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Nah I doubt it will be any good like Parenthood.
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Ok I've seen the short 30 second trailer on Youtube. I would probably give it a go because I don't mind watching those heartfelt shows. If I don't like it or feel a connection, I will just stop watching it.
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This show actually has a feel like what the older shows of ABC Family had. Like Wildfire, Kyle XY, and Lincoln Heights. It seems much more focused on the family like the past older shows.
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Still mad at ABC Family for canceling Wildfire. That was the only quality show they had.
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Don't forget Kyle XY
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and Greek
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Greek got a proper ending though, at least. Kyle XY was left hanging, which I'm still bitter about. I thought Wildfire had a proper ending as well. I get angry when they cancel shows, but I can deal with it if they give them a proper ending.
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I don't know. I felt like Wildfire had a rushed ending because ABC Family decided to cancel it last minute because the ratings weren't improving. Oh well.
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nope
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I'm sure it'll be a "nice" show, but there's no way it will ever come close to Switched at Birth in terms of quality.

Even though the pilot aired a few months ago, I kind of wish someone reviewed Twisted's premiere instead.
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ok this show better be good because if they have shelved Bunheads for Shit im going to be pissed
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They have, go find a proper receptacle. BASTIDS...
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It might be something I would watch, IF I could watch the trailer :|

Please start making it available to Aussie's and other countries to at least watch the trailer for these shows.

Thanks
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Here in the US, we can't watch Australia's Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries or Canada's Lost Girl or Continuum, although the two from Canada are now being shown on SyFy but not until after season's end in Canada.
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Well that sucks too lol
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"ABC Family has built one of the more eclectic (or, if you’re feeling ungenerous, one of the less stable) brand identities."

and let's not forget... The Middleman!
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I almost did, thanks for reminding me...
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I saw an extended preview while waiting for Hangover 3 to start, and I felt my time would have been better spent playing Whack-a-mole in the theatre lobby. No thanks.
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But you were in 'Hangover 3' so your time was already wasted. :D
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was better than the intial reviews, if you love the first two, and even if you loved the first and only kind of enjoyed the second, it was worth it. an extended view of that show seemed endless compared to it.
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Ain't it the truth. One hangover is bad, but three makes you a drunk...
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I rather have Bunheads back. I really liked watching Bunheads and Switch at birth together.
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Should you watch this? Not until they renew Bunheads...
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I'm with you! I'm not watching anything else on ABCF until they renew Bunheads. Funny note, I watched Smash (I know I'm a glutton for punishment). Did anyone else notice that Sutton Foster (Michelle from Bunheads) was nominated for a couple of awards on the faux Tony awards? Anyway, ABCF please renew Bunheads!
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i did! :)
i actually rewinded to make sure i'd listened rt ;)
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I rather have bunheads.
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Bunheads is going down--THERE IS NO GOD!!!
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I mean, I'm really happy that TV shows are finally showing something other than straight, married, upper-middle class white families, but family dramas ain't really my cup of tea. Still, I wish them all the best!
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Please, Melissa and Joey would have seemed dated in the 90's. It's modelled on Who's the Boss (1984)
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I'm going to pass, but I'm not exactly the target demographic.
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I'm not big on Families centered dramas but Peter Page is a great writer. Well, I think I'll pass for now and maybe check it out if your verdict is good, along the line.
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I'm going to watch. Not sure if I will love it but it reminds me of classic WB. I was a junkie for the WB. I even watched Hyperion Bay.
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I am not sure...honestly I am not sure what might be conflicting with it at this point. Heck I might merely to sort out my switched at birth recording since you havw to run over.
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nah.. ABC Family only has three shows worth watching... and one of those I can take or leave.
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You had me at Teri Polo...but lost me at Jennifer Lopez.
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She's just a producer of the show. It's not like she wrote it, directed it, stars in it, etc...
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I know, but that makes no difference to me. I won't support anything with which she's associated, no matter how tangential that association is. It's the only contribution I can make in furtherance of getting the rest of the industry to finally ignore her altogether.
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I'm with you there not really a Jennifer Lopez fan either.
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I won't.

That is all.
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I'll probably watch the pilot, just to enjoy the fact that there is a show that put gays as main characters. I'll probably won't watch the rest of it as I don't enjoy family shows.
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i don't want to tell you what to do, but...
the fosters aren't doing anything for me, i'm kind of bored just reading about them in a quick write up.
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