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'The Fosters' a positive portrayal of family

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Last week, one of the shows I wrote about after getting caught up on it was ABC Family's "Twisted." During the weekend, I got caught up on the channel's other new summer drama: "The Fosters."

The show centers on interracial lesbian couple Stef Foster (Teri Polo) and Lena Adams (Sherri Saum) and their teenage children: Brandon (David Lambert), Stef's biological son from a previous heterosexual marriage; Jesus (Jake T. Austin) and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez), foster twins they adopted, and Callie (Maia Mitchell) and Jude (Hayden Byerley), siblings they are fostering who were removed from an abusive household. Brandon's dad, Mike (Danny Nucci), is also still in the picture; he and Stef are partners on the police force.

It's an OK show. I don't like it nearly as much as "Switched at Birth," its predecessor on Monday nights and my favorite ABC Family show, or even "Twisted," but it's not bad. It's got an interesting family dynamic to draw you in and a bit of mystery as troubles from Callie's past surface.

Speaking of Callie, Maia Mitchell is one of the reasons I like the show. The Australian teen is engaging and definitely an actress to watch. (You can also see her in Disney Channel's "Teen Beach Movie," premiering at 8 p.m. Friday.)

The other, bigger reason I like it, though, is it depicts this family normally.

Yes, Lena and Stef are gay. Yes, they're an interracial family. Yes, Callie and Jude are foster children.

All of these things are there and part of the Fosters' story, but they're just that: part of it. They provide storylines, but they're not the only stories.

There's plenty of regular family and teenage drama, too, that viewers, no matter what their families look like, can relate to (sibling squabbles, room sharing, relationship troubles, fights with parents, etc.). By mingling the Fosters' unique stories with universal family spats and teen drama, the show makes them ordinary, not exotic, and that, to me, is a wonderful thing.

I think family is important, and I'm blessed to have a close-knit one. If even one person, especially a young one, watches "The Fosters" and either finds him or herself reflected positively in it or becomes more accepting of different types of families because of it, I think that's worth it.

•••

Series premieres: "Miss U Much," 10 p.m. Friday, VH1 (a look at former stars' lives now); "City Girl Diaries," 9 p.m. Sunday, Style Network (follows five NYC friends); "Breaking Amish: LA," 10 p.m. Sunday, TLC (Amish and Mennonite youth in the big city); "Supermarket Superstar," 10 p.m. Monday, Lifetime (home chefs vie to have their products launched nationally); "The Vineyard," 10 p.m. Tuesday, ABC Family (young adults in Martha's Vineyard for the summer); "Spell-Mageddon," 9 p.m. Wednesday, ABC Family (contestants try to spell words while facing distractions).

Season premieres: "Project Runway," 9 p.m. Thursday, Lifetime (preview special at 8 p.m.); "Money From Strangers," 11 p.m. Thursday, MTV; "Breaking Pointe," 9 p.m. Monday, CW; "Top Chef Masters," 10 p.m. Wednesday, Bravo.

Sneak previews: "Liv & Maddie," 9:45 p.m. Friday, Disney (a teen TV star returns home, complicating her twin's life; premieres in the fall); "Axe Cop," 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Fox (an axe-wielding cop who sleeps two minutes per night and eats only cake; premieres July 27); "High School USA!" 9:45 p.m. Sunday, Fox (an overly optimistic group of high schoolers face their problems; premieres July 27).

Season finales: "Showville," 10 p.m. Thursday, AMC; "House of Curves," 10 p.m. Thursday, WE; "Treehouse Masters," 10 p.m. Friday, Animal Planet; "Pregnant & Dating," 9 p.m. Saturday, WE; "Insane Coaster Wars," 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Travel Channel; "Top Hooker," 10 p.m. Sunday, Animal Planet; "Chef Roble & Co.," 8 p.m. Wednesday, Bravo.

Specials: "Mandela: Freedom's Father," 8 p.m. Thursday, BET (special marking his 95th birthday talks to celebrities and insiders about his life and legacy); "Teen Beach Movie," 8 p.m. Friday, Disney Channel (throwback to Annette Funicello/Frankie Avalon beach movies finds teens transported into an old surf musical); "The Bachelorette: The Men Tell All," 8 p.m. Monday, ABC; "Comic-Con All Access," 11 p.m. Monday, Spike.

Of note: "America's Got Talent" first live show, 9 p.m. Tuesday, NBC.

Of note on Syfy: Miss the cheesy badness of "Sharknado" last week and all the chatter it inspired? Check it out again at 7 p.m. Thursday. Also, a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" marathon runs 9 a.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday.

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com.


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