"The Fosters" has many of the staples of your average television drama, but with a few intriguing tidbits that distinguish it from other family shows that resemble it. Centered around a non-traditional family, the main characters include two lesbian mothers and a plethora of foster children that they're raising together (hence, the show's name -- "The Fosters").
While gay and lesbian characters are nothing new on television, some elements of this particular show are leading to some uncomfortable questions. Certainly, there's an argument to be made that individuals and families of all types deserve to be presented in media.
But considering that ABC Family is a network that one would assume is intended to be watched by children and parents, alike, an intriguing curiosity is being posed: Does the show cross the line in covering a subject that is simply too controversial for young minds?
Merely asking this question, of course, would cause angst for more progressive Americans who see the show as a vibrant celebration of diversity. But among some conservatives, placement of "The Fosters" on a family television network may be seen as a move that will create unpalatable questions among children (it should also be noted that ABC Family is owned by Disney, a popular children's brand).
Watch an extended trailer for "The Fosters," below, for more about the show's plot:
And when you consider the network's history, as outlined this week by World Magazine, the transition from faith-themed programming to "The Fosters" is, well, stunning. Just five years ago, the channel was owned by Fox and, just before that, it was operated by evangelical leader Pat Robertson.
"The Walt Disney Company [has] rebranded ABC Family Channel with the tagline: A New Kind of Family," World explains. "Since then, they’ve backed up the slogan with a slate of shows that feature teen sex, teen pregnancy, abortion, homosexuality, and bisexuality."
Now, it is true that the network apparently focuses on teens and older adults as its target demographic, but it is those on the lower end of the age scale that these subjects may be too advanced for. World has more about the show:
With Jennifer Lopez executive producing, The Fosters stars Teri Polo and Sheri Saum as Stef and Lena, a lesbian couple raising a biological son (David Lambert) from Stef’s previous marriage, as well as adopted fraternal twins (Cierra Ramirez and Jake T. Austin). As the show progresses, they also add a troubled teen girl fresh out of juvie and her angel-faced little brother to their brood.
Despite a few after-school-special-type problems—dealing with ADD, sharing prescription pills with friends, and angst over meeting a birth parent—nothing in the plotting or character development of the first two episodes suggests growing up with lesbian moms is anything but idyllic. Even the high school the kids attend offers a kind of fantasy, located only steps from a sunny beach where the gorgeous, perfectly tousled students can surf the waves after class. If that weren’t enough catering to teen notions of paradise, later, one of the moms offers to buy her son condoms, good-naturedly ruffling his hair and sighing, “You’re growing up so fast,” when the boy blushes at the suggestion.
This undated image released by ABC Family shows, from row from left, Maia Mitchell, executive producer Jennifer Lopez, Cierra Ramirez, from back left, David Lambert and Jake T. Austin from "The Fosters," premiering June 3 on ABC Family. Credit: AP
The central question in the debate surrounding programs like "The Fosters" is: Will the show make young, impressionable minds more accepting of alternative lifestyles? And some secondary -- and related -- curiosities: If it does, what's the big deal? Don't we want more accepting hearts and minds?
Many liberals likely want shows like "The Fosters" to spawn greater acceptance of non-traditional families, while many conservatives would prefer to shield their children from content that has an agenda or that seeks to transform or even form their children's views on complicated issues like homosexuality and gay marriage.
Plainly stated: Some will see the show as a positive and others as a negative, with worldviews and political perspective dictating which side one will fall on.
Supporters will see the show as a guiding light to greater societal understanding and, to others, it will serve as an intentional attempt to normalize a lifestyle (perhaps some will share a mixture of these views).
TheBlaze reached out to a spokesperson for "The Fosters" to ask about the program and its reception thus far, but we have not been able to reach a representative.
What do you think about the show? Let us know in the comments section.