March 24, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “The Fosters”


There’s a reason why serialized dramas usually have some sort of “franchise” powering them:  a mystery to be solved, patients to be cured, a quest to be undertaken, etc.  Generating compelling stories on a weekly basis out of something like ordinary life can become awfully difficult, and a series can quickly turn mundane.  THE FOSTERS, with its very blended family consisting of married lesbian mothers Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum), Stef’s biological son Brandon (David Lambert), twin adoptees Jesus (Jake T. Austin) and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez), and troubled foster children Callie (Maia Mitchell) and her emerging gay brother Jude (Hayden Byerly), along with Brandon’s recovering alcoholic father Mike (Danny Nucci), seemed to have enough varied material to keep churning out distinctive stories for years, but as Season 2 ended tonight, it’s started to feel like a rather routine teen soap.  In a way, of course, this proves the series’ point:  despite the mix of the Adams-Foster family, they’re just like anyone else, with issues about dance club, and whether to take wrestling (Jesus) or music (Brandon) scholarships, and the all-encompassing power of teen romance.  That doesn’t keep them all that interesting, though.

Tonight’s season finale, written by series creators Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige and Executive Producer Joanna Johnson, and directed by Zetna Fuentes, appeared to end one source of melodrama while naturally introducing some more.  The bulk of the Fosters heavy lifting tends to revolve around Callie, and that was the case in most of Season 2 as well.  The big reveal was that she (but not Jude) was the birth daughter of wealthy Robert Quinn (Kerr Smith), who stood in the way of her being formally adopted by Lena and Stef, but at the close of the finale, he formally announced that he’d renounced his claim, and they were free to adopt her.  In addition, Jude came firmly out of the closet.  However, the extended flirtation between Lena and her newly bi-curious boss at the school where she works (and where all the kids go) led to a kiss.  And the season’s extensive handwringing about the pregnancy of Jesus and Mariana’s recovering junkie birth mother Ana (Alexandra Barreto), and what would happen to her baby, appeared to be resolved violently in the final cliffhanger, which utilized the ever-popular A Truck Comes Out Of Nowhere twist, as a voice-over informed Stef and us that there was at least one fatality in the accident–even though it wasn’t clear how anyone could have known that, since as we see the scene, no emergency vehicle had yet arrived.  (Spoiler Alert:  After the episode’s airing, social media posts from the performer and the show seemed to confirm that the character who won’t be back next season is Jesus.)

The Fosters is a very watchable hour, extremely well cast with performers of various ages who have flexible, believable chemistry with one another.  (Over 2 seasons, Callie and Brandon have been both quasi-incestuous and devoted siblings.)  Despite some notable plotlines like Jude’s pubescent sexuality, however, it’s not quite as special a series as it first appeared to be. It tells efficient, absorbing stories through appealing characters, and its fairly steady ratings should keep it around for some time to come.  In the end, though, it’s a somewhat more progressive version of the kinds of family stories that have been around forever.  From a dramatic point of view, the downside of the new normal is that it’s basically normal.



About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."