Family TV may be forming new definitions today, particularly on networks that cater to family programming. Nowhere is that debate becoming more divided than with this summer’s “The Fosters” on ABC Family and produced by Jennifer Lopez. With Lopez recently explaining her reasoning for creating a family show with interracial lesbians as moms raising teenage kids, what less obvious things will distinguish this show as being a new trend setter?
It Tackles Family Issues Beyond a Two-Mom Household
The true focus of the show will be on the children in the family being adopted or as foster kids. Most of them are troubled, though it shows the reasoning behind why they’re that way. While shows like NBC’s “Parenthood” show the consequences of near impossible issues families grapple with, “The Fosters” seems to be going into the heads of the children to see why they do the things they do to sometimes get in trouble.
The Moms Are Well-Meaning Moms
Despite the heads of the household being lesbians, the early episodes don’t take the show in territory that makes it overly obvious. Instead, we see two caring moms who do everything they can to help their children. If dialogue is ultimately frank among these moms with their kids, it shows that the parents live in reality and understand the kind of world their kids are living in.
Interracial Parents Are More Innovative Than Lesbian Moms
Movies have already dealt with the lesbian mom concept. “The Kids Are All Right”, for instance, tackled caring moms who happen to have their own personal problems. Seldom, though, do we see interracial parents in movies or on TV. In “The Fosters”, the mother Lena (played by Sherri Saum) is Latino. The other mother (Stef, played by Teri Polo) is white.
“Modern Family” already broached the idea of an interracial couple with Ed O’Neill’s Jay Pritchett character marrying a woman from Colombia (Gloria, played by Sofia Vargara). However, that always seemed to stand alone until now. It could open the doors to more interracial parentage on future family shows without giving the impression of being controversial.
“The Fosters” Show the Value in Helping Troubled Kids
One strong theme that the show will have is Lena attempting to adopt more kids without consulting Stef. Other than “Diff’rent Strokes” over 35 years ago, there hasn’t been many TV shows that show the benefits of adopting kids from troubled homes. That adds much more to “The Fosters” when adoption is a hot-button real world topic fictional TV (and reality shows) have missed out on.
But no matter the debate over what makes up a family in prime-time, the strength of keeping a family together seems to still be intact as family TV continues to evolve.