Teaching Tolerance: ABC Family’s “The Fosters”

Published 12/11/13 by:

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During the summer of 2013, ABC Family did something that none of us expected: it created a show that developed dialogue about family definitions, political standpoints, and how love should really conquer all. ABC Family’s (relatively) new show, “The Fosters”, follows the daily obstacles and triumphs of a family led by a bi-racial couple who happen to both be women. This double-matriarch household also has some other atypical characteristics: four out of their five children are adopted, and two of them are Hispanic. If you’re counting, this means that the Foster household encompasses one gay marriage, and three different races/ethnicities. I also think it’s worth mentioning that the mothers both work in fields that serve the people: Lena is a vice principal at a charter school, while Stef is a police officer. On the surface, this is a show about a very diverse family trying to lead their children successfully day by day. On the grander scale, this show is harboring feelings of tolerance in an audience that may not be aware of their own opinions. In other words: ABC Family’s viewership just became a bit more open-minded. Why? Because they’ve humanized what a modern family looks like and put them in situations that most of us have also had to dig ourselves out of. It also helps that everyone is adorable.


The show is returning for its second season on January 13, 2014, and I’m making every effort to convince people to watch it as a catalyst for important conversations that may have otherwise been avoided. The days of handing your daughters a book about getting their period are over. You now have glamorous television shows (willing to take risks) to turn to as an introduction to some difficult topics. Take advantage of “The Fosters”!


Topics Covered In the First Season:

Rape, abortion, bi-racial marriage, lesbian marriage, illegal immigration, rumor-spreading, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, Quinceaneras, ethical responsibility in educational practices, ethical responsibility when fostering children, religious oppression, lying, teenage drinking, teenage sex, drunk driving, runaways, gifted children, and the role of law enforcement in a community.**


**That list is staggering when you consider that the first season was only 10 episodes long. You may be thinking after perusing the list above that this show is overly dramatic, or displaying teenagers in the most extreme scenarios in order to provoke conversations and trend on twitter, but you would be very wrong. The show’s integrity and craft is above anything I’ve seen on ABC Family, and its ability to be simultaneously genuine and controversial is an achievement worth applauding.

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