TV Review - The Fosters: Season 1B
|Sherri Shaum (left) and Teri Polo in "The Fosters"|
The premise is a lesbian, married couple and their teenage children. Two of whom are adopted children. Two are foster children and one is a biological child. Episode 10 actually ends with the wedding between the two lesbians. It also ends with one of the foster children running away. The foster child who runs away is Callie Jacob, played by Maia Mitchell. Callie and her brother, Jude, played by Hayden Byerly, come from a broken home and are taken in by Stef Foster and her wife Lena Adams.
Before Stef married Lena, Stef was married to a man, Mike Foster, played by Danny Nucci, with whom she had a son named Brandon, played by David Lambert. Once Stef and Lena got together, they adopted two Hispanic twins, Jesus and Mariana, played respectively by Jake T. Austin and Cierra Ramirez. All this happens before Season 1 starts, so when it does Callie and Jude are entering this multicultural, blended home.
Things go reasonably well, but Callie eventually runs away. She runs away because Jude catches her kissing Brandon. Some back story revealed in the first half of Season 1 is that Callie and Jude were forced out of their last foster home because Callie was raped by her last foster brother. It was never proven. It was instead ruled as consensual sex, but even still, sex between foster children is not condoned because it's technically incest.
When Jude sees Callie and Brandon, he realizes that it could mean that they would have to leave this new home. Callie doesn't want to threaten Jude's new home, so she leaves. Episode 11 picks up with her winding up in a group home with other girls who are in the foster care system. This is actually the bright spot of the second half of Season 1.
Rosie O'Donnell guest stars as Rita Hendricks. O'Donnell is essentially playing the same character as she did in the TV movie America (2009), but it's fine because the foster care issue is an issue close to O'Donnell's heart, so she plays it honestly and earnestly. The run of five episodes with O'Donnell are by far the best thing this show has done. The young girls like Daphne, played by Daffany McGaray Clark, as well as the transgendered boy named Cole, played by Tom Phelan, introduced here are some of the most interesting characters put on TV.
The problem is that throughout the first half and even this second half, the series has become the Callie and Brandon show. Too much time is spent on this incestuous romance between the two. It honestly should have ended with Episode 15, entitled "Padre," but the show drags it out and continues to hit the audience over the head with it.
I wouldn't have minded if it wasn't to the detriment of other characters, namely Jude. There are episodes where Jude doesn't even appear at all. In the first half, it was implied that Jude perhaps had questioning sexuality. He painted his nails and he perhaps had feelings for his best friend Connor, played by Gavin MacIntosh. Yet, all this is dropped and never revisited. Obviously, these are child actors who can't work as much as the older kids, but the show seems to go out of its way to say it doesn't really care about Jude.
The series barely cares about Stef and Lena. Teri Polo plays Stef, a tough cop. The episode where her homophobic father dies should have been a real showcase of how great Polo is as an actress, but, even in that episode, she feels like a non-presence and it ends with the Callie and Brandon show. However, another bright spot is Sherri Shaum who plays Lena has done a good job in portraying her desire to have a baby and have a fellow teacher named Tim, played by Jay Ali, be the sperm donor.
There are a lot of other bright spots to the series as well. Hopefully, the second half will do away with the Callie and Brandon show and open things up, so the series can explore other issues. The most recent episode, entitled "Metropolis," weaves in issues like teen homelessness and mental illness in families, which is good because not a lot of dramas are dealing with it outside of the criminal justice system.
Five Stars out of Five.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Mondays at 9PM on ABC Family.