This Teen Show Just Tackled TV's Last Dating Taboo

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Last night, a huge secret was revealed on The Fosters, the Freeform teen show about a blended family. After hiding it for months, Callie (Maia Mitchell), the Fosters' recently adopted daughter, was forced to confess to her two mothers that she had sex with her then foster, and now legal, brother.

The confession could have some major consequences for the Fosters. It comes in the wake of Callie standing up against a corrupt foster care bill that will funnel more money toward privatization, and could threaten her new position as a much-needed voice for foster kids. It could also break down a lot of the trust that's been built up between Callie and her new moms — it was a big secret to keep from them that could affect the balance of the entire family.
The Fosters seemed to embody what used to be ABC Family's slogan when the show first came out in 2013 — "A new kind of family." Lena (Sherri Saum) and Stef (Teri Polo) are an interracial lesbian couple raising Stef's biological son Brandon (with an ex-husband she still works with); twins Jesus and Mariana (Noah Centineo and Cierra Ramirez), adopted five years ago; and teens Jude and Callie, adopted within the last year. Other family members pop up periodically to complicate their lives (the twins' biological mother is now dating Brandon's biological father; when filing adoption papers, Callie learns that the man who helped raise her wasn't actually her biological father), but the show's theme is as clear as the lyrics to the painfully corny theme song: "It's not where you come from, it's where you belong." When the show comes back next season, there will be awkward family meetings likely discussing practical aspects of the revelation. But in the end, the parents are very clear on the makeup of their family — they have five children, and nothing can change that.
The Game of Thrones-level complications within the Foster family tree shouldn't take away from the serious issues they're able to tackle deftly. There is no "very special episode," because every episode is juggling so many issues that are simply woven into the basic teen drama you'd expect from Freeform. In the finale alone, the show hit upon the very unhappy reality that foster kids often face, the struggles a teen can face coming to terms with his or her own sexual identity (even if their family is 100% accepting), and the prejudice members of the LGBT community can face even in a seemingly idyllic place of learning, acceptance, and probably kale.
If The Fosters is making anything clear on the television landscape, it's that family makeups can shift and change, and that might mean romantic relationships pop up in ways that make people feel uncomfortable. The relationship between Callie and Brandon going public is this season's big reveal, but the fallout will only highlight the show's truly important relationship — the one that holds together the entire Foster family.

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