ABC Fosters Family

ABC Fosters Family

Family television dramas are no longer the black and white-washed, mid-century series of times better gone by.  Progressively, over the years, offerings such as My So-Called LifeOnce and AgainThe Wonder Years, and Life Goes On have all taken on serious, controversial topics reflecting modern family issues far more complex than pairing the appropriate set of pearls and heels for vacuuming.  In fact, the character, “Kate”, in the drama, Family, asked her disco-era audience to consider the possibility that perhaps a woman’s place might not necessarily be in the home, but in school, and ultimately the workforce.

I pause for a moment as I consider the examples I have listed, and though they may have runs or settings in different modern eras, they all have one thing in common…ABC.  Yes, the American television network has quite a history of relevant, family-themed programming, and treading in the electronic footprints of this storied past is ABC’s latest offering, The Fosters.  Broadcast on the parent network’s aptly named Family ChannelThe Fosters is an honest portrayal of a second decade, 21st century blended family of five children (one biological, two adopted, two fostered) and two mothers.  Yes, this familial tether has two mommies.

Executively produced by Jennifer Lopez, yes JLo, Jenny From the Block, and the creative team of Peter Paige and Bradley BredewegThe Fosters in its first four episodes has addressed the dark, broken side of this nation’s foster system, divorce, teen drug use, teen sex, sibling rivalry, step-parenting, cheating, bullying, inner prejudices within minorities (Whew!), oh, and if that’s not enough, same-sex parenting…because as much as we like to say parenting is parenting, it’s just not true.  What is true, is the courageous and honest way this drama speaks to the audience.  I would go so far as to say The Fosters is a primer for responsible, modern-day parenting.  Do these enlightened matriarchs make mistakes?  Of course they do, but as a parent, the biggest mistake we can possibly make is to turn a blind, fearful eye to the challenges confronting our kids.

Being set in California affords the drama a certain leeway in dealing with same-sex fostering and adoption not permitted gay and lesbian couples in many states of our union.  Had the drama been set in Arkansas or Utah, the series would be more about the fight to be a family rather than the fight of a family.  Thankfully, San Diego provides a base liberal enough to be tolerant, but conservative enough to become a catalyst for issues such as same-sex public intimacy that opposite sex couples take for granted and the reticent reaction of a teenage daughter to dancing publicly with her moms.

Experience tells me there will be a few complaints that this show doesn’t show enough intimacy between the female leads.  Well, guess what, they address that, too.  With four highly scheduled teenagers, one active tween, two careers, and a dog (Wait, there’s no dog, but there’s always a family dog!), where is the time?  Watch, there are benefits to having a large family…a big-ass back seat.  Let’s face it, there is quite a bit of love and intimacy in this house, and if I wanted gratuitous sex I have Skin-amax.  Or, I could tune into that other Monday night ABC show with a lesbian storyline; it makes my eyes roll back, but not in a good way.

If asked why I watch, I would have to say there is a visceral connection to this show.  I recognize the words of Peter Paige and Bradley Bredeweg as my/our words, I recognize the Foster family challenges, as our challenges, and I certainly recognize the love and the commitment of two parents doing the very best they can to raise kind, loving, empathetic members of a productive society.  Yes, Jennifer Lopez, this IS an American idol, the American family, my family.