The Fosters
The Fosters intertitle.png
Genre
Created by
Starring
Theme music composerKari Kimmel
Opening theme"Where You Belong"
ComposerAlec Puro
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes104 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Producers
  • Christine A. Sacani
  • Paul Sciarrotta
  • David Hartle
  • Mark Benton Johnson
  • Megan Lynn
  • Wade Solomon
Cinematography
  • Lowell Peterson
  • Kees Van Oostrum
  • Checco Varese
Editors
  • Kristin Windell
  • Sharon Silverman
  • Debra Weinstein
  • Michael Jablow
  • Meghan Robertson
Running time42 minutes
Production companies
DistributorDisney–ABC Domestic Television
Release
Original network
  • ABC Family (seasons 1-3)
  • Freeform (seasons 3-5)
Picture format1080p (HDTV)
Original releaseJune 3, 2013 (2013-06-03) –
June 6, 2018 (2018-06-06)
Chronology
Followed byGood Trouble

The Fosters is an American family drama television series created by Peter Paige and Bradley Bredeweg. It premiered in the United States on June 3, 2013 on the ABC Family (later Freeform) television network and concluded on June 6, 2018. It followed the lives of the Adams-Foster family led by lesbian couple, Stef Foster, a police officer, and Lena Adams, a school vice principal, who raise one biological son and four adopted teenagers in San Diego, California.

The first season received generally favorable reviews and particular acclaim for its portrayal of LGBT themes. It also earned two GLAAD Media Awards and one Teen Choice Award.

On January 3, 2018, Freeform announced that The Fosters would end after five seasons. It concluded with a three-episode finale, which also acted as an introduction to Good Trouble, the spin-off series starring Maia Mitchell and Cierra Ramirez.[1]

Plot

The series follows the lives of police officer Stef Foster and her life partner Lena Adams, a school vice principal, and their multiethnic, blended family. Stef and Lena are the parents of Brandon, Stef’s biological son from her previous marriage, and twins Jesus and Mariana, who were adopted as children. When the series begins, the couple take in two foster children, Callie and Jude, whom they later adopt. Also part of their lives is Mike Foster, Stef’s patrol partner and ex-husband, and Brandon’s biological father.

Most of the show takes place at the family's craftsman-style home in the quiet San Diego suburb of Mission Bay, and at Anchor Beach Community Charter School.

Episodes

Main article: List of The Fosters episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
12110June 3, 2013 (2013-06-03)August 5, 2013 (2013-08-05)ABC Family
11January 13, 2014 (2014-01-13)March 24, 2014 (2014-03-24)
22110June 16, 2014 (2014-06-16)December 8, 2014 (2014-12-08)
11January 19, 2015 (2015-01-19)March 23, 2015 (2015-03-23)
32010June 8, 2015 (2015-06-08)August 17, 2015 (2015-08-17)
10January 25, 2016 (2016-01-25)March 28, 2016 (2016-03-28)Freeform
42010June 20, 2016 (2016-06-20)August 29, 2016 (2016-08-29)
10January 31, 2017 (2017-01-31)April 11, 2017 (2017-04-11)
5229July 11, 2017 (2017-07-11)September 5, 2017 (2017-09-05)
13January 9, 2018 (2018-01-09)June 6, 2018 (2018-06-06)

Characters

Main article: List of The Fosters characters

Main

Recurring

Former recurring

Special guest stars

Production

Conception

The Fosters was originally conceived by openly gay creators Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige[11] who wanted to write a drama that reflected the "modern American family". After originally considering a story about two gay fathers, the pair decided the subject of two men raising a family had already been done on television and began to instead consider a story about two women.[12] When asked about the concept of two lesbian mothers raising a blended family, Bredeweg stated, "We realized that there was a kind of a vacuum when it came to stories about women raising families. So we set off in that direction. Many of our own friends are moms raising biological kids. Some of them have fostered and adopted. Suddenly, we realized that we had a story here that hadn't been told on television before."[12] Additionally, certain elements of the series which deal with the foster care system are said to have been inspired by a troubled childhood friend of Bredeweg, who struggled in the foster system before eventually being adopted in her senior year of high school.[12]

Development

Executive producer Jennifer Lopez
Executive producer Jennifer Lopez

When developing the concept, Bredeweg and Paige were initially met with some resistance from Hollywood, with Bredeweg recounting, "[T]here were some people around us, some people in town who said, 'You know, it is just not going to happen. You are never going to sell this show.'" After completing the first draft of the pilot script, the team was introduced to Jennifer Lopez through a friend who worked at her production company Nuyorican Productions, which was looking to branch out into scripted television. When describing their initial pitch to Lopez, Bredeweg stated, "When we met with Jennifer, she really fell in love with it. The moment we had her, we knew that we had a force behind us."[12]

Lopez's decision to become involved in the project is said to have been largely inspired by her late Aunt Marisa, Lopez's mother's gay elder sister who had faced discrimination during her lifetime due to her sexual orientation and was unable to have a family of her own.[13][14][15] When discussing the show's concept, Lopez stated, "Although [the script] was about a non-traditional family and had some newer themes, it had some really basic themes as well about family and love and what's really important. And life can be complicated and messy sometimes and not simple. It gives a really good depiction of family in this day and age."[15]

With Lopez on board, the team took the concept to several networks, including ABC Family, with Bredeweg recalling, "ABC Family was really receptive from the very beginning. Strangely, it felt a little like a match made in heaven. I mean, their slogan is 'A new kind of family.' We had a new kind of modern family, and it took off from there."[12] On July 6, 2012, The Hollywood Reporter, among other sources, reported that Jennifer Lopez and her production company, Nuyorican Productions, were developing the yet-to-be-titled hour-long drama for ABC Family, with Lopez set to executive produce alongside Simon Fields and Greg Gugliotta, as well as showrunners and head writers Peter Paige and Brad Bredeweg.[16][17]

Finally, the first televised promo appeared on ABC Family on April 19, 2013.[18]

Casting

On August 23, 2012, sources reported that ABC Family had ordered a pilot for The Fosters, a series which would tell the story of a lesbian couple raising a "21st-century" multi-ethnic mix of foster and biological children.[19][20][21] On September 24, 2012, it was reported that Teri Polo and Sherri Saum had been cast to star in the pilot as the two leads, Stef Adams Foster and Lena Adams Foster, respectively.[22]

On February 6, 2013, it was reported that ABC Family had picked up the show, with production set to begin that spring for a summer 2013 premiere. The rest of the principal cast was also announced at that time, including Danny Nucci as Stef's ex-husband Mike Foster, David Lambert as their biological son Brandon Foster, Jake T. Austin and Cierra Ramirez as Stef and Lena's twins Jesus and Mariana Foster, and Maia Mitchell and Hayden Byerly as their foster children Callie and Jude Jacob.

When recounting the casting process, Bredeweg explained, "[W]e spent tireless hours trying to find the right person for each role. Then they all began to line up—it was like dominos—the moment we found our Lena, the moment we found our Callie, the moment we found our Stef, it sort of all started to line up perfectly for us."[12] On April 11, 2013, TV Guide unveiled the first official cast photo of The Fosters.[23]

In March 2015, it was announced that Jake T. Austin would be leaving the show. He tweeted: "I'm honored to have been a part of such a groundbreaking series, but I personally want to let you know that my time on the show has come to an end. Thank you for letting me be a part of your family, it's been a pleasure." It was announced three months later that Noah Centineo would replace Austin in the role of Jesus.[24]

Broadcast

The Fosters premiered on June 3, 2013 and ran for ten episodes. On July 30, 2013, the series was picked up for a full season[25] and an additional eleven episodes were produced,[26] with the first season returning on January 13, 2014 before concluding on March 24. On October 11, 2013, ABC Family renewed The Fosters for a second season[27][28][29] that premiered on June 16, 2014. The summer finale premiered on August 18, 2014. In July, ABC Family announced a Christmas special to premiere in December with the second half of season 2 to premiere in January 2015. The third season premiered on June 8, 2015.[30]

On January 13, 2015, ABC Family renewed the series for a third season which premiered on June 8,[30][31] with the second half set to premiere on January 18, 2016 on Freeform.[32] On November 24, 2015, the premiere date was pushed to a week later on January 25, 2016.[33] On November 30, 2015, ABC Family announced that The Fosters was renewed for a fourth season and began airing on June 20, 2016.[34]

While Canada broadcasts the series on ABC Spark, it airs on Fox8 in Australia where its second season premiered on February 3, 2015.[35] In Turkey, the series airs on Dizimax Drama.[36]

On January 10, 2017, The Fosters was renewed for a fifth season, which included the series' 100th episode.[37]

On January 3, 2018, Freeform announced that The Fosters was ending after five seasons. The show's two-hour 100th episode acted as a Season 5 finale, setting up the three-part limited series event that aired in June 2018. The three-episode finale will introduce a spin-off series centered around Maia Mitchell's Callie and Cierra Ramirez's Mariana.[38]

Webisodes

Main article: List of The Fosters episodes § Webisodes

On January 27, 2014, it was confirmed that ABC Family green-lighted a spin-off digital series of The Fosters, named The Fosters: Girls United. The five-part web series follows the residents of the Girls United home in a new country. Maia Mitchell, Daffany Clark, Cherinda Kincherlow, Annamarie Kenoyer, Alicia Sixtos, Hayley Kiyoko, and Angela Gibbs star in the series.[39]

Reception

Critical reception

The Fosters received a Metacritic score of 70 out of 100 in its first season, based on reviews by eleven critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[40] While acknowledging its network was somewhat beholden to the "soapy" format its target demographic had become accustomed to, critics praised the series for its ability to appeal to adults and younger viewers alike, with Boston Herald critic Mark A. Perigard writing, "The show cannily plays to teen hopes and dreams [...] but there's story for the adults as well."[41] St. Louis Post-Dispatch critic Gail Pennington echoed the sentiment, writing "Intelligent enough for adults, accessible enough for younger viewers and entertaining enough for both."[42]

Series stars Sherri Saum and Teri Polo
Series stars Sherri Saum and Teri Polo

The series has garnered positive reception for its innovative portrayal of LGBT characters and themes. Entertainment Weekly critic, Sarah Caldwell wrote that "[s]eeing a lesbian, biracial couple on a family TV show is a big deal. [I]f you look at the demographics of most TV shows, it's easy to realize how important, and deliberate, this choice was."[43] Philadelphia Daily News critic Ellen Gray wrote, "Stef and Lena [are] the kind of parents I've met more in real life than on television. I hope they'll be as welcome there as they seem to be welcoming."[44] TV Guide critic Matt Rousch felt similarly, writing, "there's something refreshing about its unforced approach to redefining what a family looks like."[45] In addition to its adult characters, the series garnered praise for its handling of 13-year-old Jude's questioning of his sexual orientation, with Hollywood.com citing Byerly's "heartwarming" portrayal when naming Jude to its list of "Favorite LGBTQ Characters on TV" in 2014.[8] The LGBT advocacy organization GLAAD and gay-interest media outlet TheBacklot.com also commended the show's decision to introduce the character of transgender teenager Cole, portrayed by transgender actor Tom Phelan, in the second half of its first season.[11][46]

In his review of the pilot episode, Variety's Brian Lowry criticized what he felt were formulaic elements, writing that what was distinctive about the series appeared to have been "extracted during the pitch meeting, indicating a show either built by committee or incorporating too many notes." Although acknowledging that Polo and Saum were competent actresses and that the show "had its heart in the right place", Lowry described the series as an "utterly by-the-numbers affair."[47] PopMatters critic Maysa Hattab detected some of the same problems, writing "[T]he Fosters feel less like a family than a careful assembly of machine-tooled parts, as if the show were engineered for a focus group approved 'family drama' category", while conceding that the lead characters, Stef and Lena were "a likeable pair."[48]

Controversy

On October 8, 2012, more than seven months prior to the series debut, the socially conservative One Million Moms organization, a division of the American Family Association, condemned Lopez and the show, encouraging audiences to boycott it.[49][50] The group, which has routinely advocated against the depiction of same-sex couples in the media, stated: "While foster care and adoption is a wonderful thing and the Bible does teach us to help orphans, this program is attempting to redefine marriage and family by having two moms raise these children together."[51][52] They issued the following statement:

Obviously, ABC has lost their minds. They haven't let up so neither will we. ABC's Family Channel has several anti-family programs, and they are planning on adding to that growing list. ABC Family has approved a series pilot from Jennifer Lopez's production company, Nuyorican, about a lesbian couple and their diverse family.[50][53][54]

In response, ABC defended the television show, with ABC Family President Michael Riley countering that The Fosters merges perfectly with the network's "groundbreaking storytelling and iconic characters" and will feature "the same depth, heart, close relationships and authenticity that our viewers have come to expect".[55] Other sources have also defended the show. Josh Middleton, a writer from Philadelphia magazine, called One Million Moms' statement "silliness" as well as "ridiculous" and said, "They obviously missed the boat on shows like Modern Family and The New Normal, which have been on air—and killing it in the ratings game—for a while now".[18]

Ratings

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of The Fosters.

Season Episodes Time slot (EST) Premiered Ended TV season Overall viewership
Date Premiere
viewers
(in millions)
Date Finale
viewers
(in millions)
1 21 Mondays 9:00 pm June 3, 2013 1.42[56] March 24, 2014 1.29[57] 2013–14 1.68[58]
2 21 Mondays 9:00 p.m. (2014)
Mondays 8:00 p.m. (2015)
June 16, 2014 1.47[59] March 23, 2015 1.45[60] 2014–15 1.39[61]
3 20 Mondays 8:00 pm June 8, 2015 1.26[62] March 28, 2016 0.77[63] 2015–16 1.00[64]
4 20 Mondays 8:00 pm (2016)
Tuesdays 8:00 pm (2017)
June 20, 2016 0.91[65] April 11, 2017 0.72[66] 2016–17 0.80[67]
5 22 Tuesdays 8:00 pm July 11, 2017 0.87[68] June 6, 2018 0.63[69] 2017–18 0.62[70]

The Fosters has a 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes.[71]

Awards and accolades

Year Association Category Recipient(s) Result Reference
2013 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Breakout Show The Fosters Won [72]
Choice Summer TV Show The Fosters Nominated [73]
Choice Summer TV Star: Male Jake T. Austin Nominated
Choice Summer TV Star: Female Maia Mitchell Nominated
2014 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series Millicent Shelton
(Episode: "Clean")
Nominated [74]
GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Drama Series The Fosters Won [75]
GLAAD Vanguard Award Jennifer Lopez
(Executive producer)
Won [13]
TCA Awards Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming The Fosters Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Drama Show The Fosters Nominated [76]
Drama: Actor Jake T. Austin Nominated
Drama: Actress Maia Mitchell Nominated
Choice summer TV Star: Male David Lambert Nominated
Choice summer TV Star: Female Cierra Ramirez Nominated
2015 GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Drama Series The Fosters Nominated [77]
TCA Awards Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming The Fosters Won [78]
Teen Choice Awards Drama Show The Fosters Nominated
Drama: Actress Maia Mitchell Nominated
Drama: Actor Jake T. Austin Nominated
Choice summer TV Star: Male David Lambert Nominated
2016 People's Choice Awards Favorite Cable TV Drama The Fosters Nominated
GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Drama Series The Fosters Nominated [79]
Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actress: Drama Maia Mitchell Nominated [80]
Choice Summer TV Show The Fosters Nominated [81]
Choice Summer TV Star: Male David Lambert Nominated [81]
Choice Summer TV Star: Female Cierra Ramirez Nominated [81]
2018 Teen Choice Awards Choice Drama TV Show The Fosters Nominated [82]
Choice Drama TV Actress Maia Mitchell Nominated

Spin-off

Main article: Good Trouble (TV series)

On January 3, 2018, following the announcement of the ending of the series, Freeform announced a spin-off was in the works. It would center the lives of Callie and Mariana Adams Foster, now living in Los Angeles, a few years after the series finale of The Fosters, which contains a five-year time jump. The spin-off was given a 13-episode order.[83] On May 23, 2018, it was announced that the title of the spin-off series was Good Trouble.[84] On February 5, 2019 it was announced via Twitter that the show has been renewed for a second season.[85] On January 17, 2020, the series has been renewed for a third season.[86] The renewal for the fourth season was announced on September 8, 2021. The fourth season is set to premiere on Wednesday March 9, 2022 on freeform. Stream on Hulu Thursday March 10.[87]

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