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Courtesy of Freeform/Eric McCandless

Why Freeform’s ‘The Fosters’ Needs to be Your Next Binge Watch

When my girlfriend first suggested I watch The Fosters – yet another on a semi-short list – for its LGBT representation, I was skeptical. The truth is, I often feel disappointed by the way lesbian relationships are depicted on screen. In my experience, they tend to get a tragic love story, or dozens of unnecessary sex scenes filmed by straight directors. Still, I decided to give The Fosters a shot, and it completely blew my mind.

Where other shows have sexualized LGBT relationships, The Fosters normalizes them in the most beautiful way. Lena Adams and Stef Foster, a high school vice-principal and a police officer, raise five kids – one Stef's biological son, two adopted, and two caught in the corrupt foster care system – with compassion, understanding and maturity. Together, the seven of them shatter the concept of the traditional, nuclear heterosexual family. 

Lena and Stef make amazing parents, and watching them educate their children will have you thinking about the ways you’ll go about educating your own, too. They check their kids’ homework and give them 'the talk,' yes, but they also always show up for their children without smothering them. They trust them and listen to them with empathy, helping them learn from their mistakes instead of screaming at them for them. The Fosters sets high standards for parenthood, and will make you reflect on how you were raised and whether you want to do things differently if you become a parent in the future. 

[bf_image id="qfddkg-fkakfk-wf9wp"] In addition to being legendary mama bears, Lena and Stef are an amazing average couple. They throw awkward dinner parties and have dumb fights before going to sleep. They try their best to manage their relationships with their sometimes not-so-accepting parents. And their sex life takes a backseat when things get tough at work. It’s incredibly refreshing to see this realistic and relatable depiction of life as a busy couple.

If this revolutionary relationship still doesn't have you sold, The Fosters also touches on an infinite number of societal issues, from the foster care system to toxic masculinity and racial inequality. Each character finds their strength and willpower as they encounter relatable challenges, from the consequences of cheating on the SATs or getting caught with fake IDs to the factors that go into deciding to get an abortion or fighting against your best friend for the same scholarship. Hispanic high school sophomore Mariana dyes her hair blonde in an effort to fit in with her majority-white dance team. Her twin brother Jesus finds himself in an all-consuming toxic relationship. Foster-daughter Callie struggles to feel stable in a home that's finally safe for her. She befriends Cole, a transgender man placed in an all-girls’ group home. Stef's biological son Brandon’s father struggles to overcome his alcoholism. Mariana and Jesus struggle with building relationships with their birth parents. 

Every episode of the show helps the viewer better understand their own identity, as you grow with its characters and find lessons that you would have never expected to resonate with you, as well as the identities of your friends, neighbors, and even strangers – people you may have never been able sympathize with or understand before. 

The Fosters is available to watch on Hulu.

Ariane is a senior at Boston University pursuing a dual degree in Journalism and Political Science with a minor in Public Relations. She loves exploring coffee shops and hanging out at the Harbor. When she's not writing and editing for Her Campus, Ariane talks about women's achievements on her radio show "Ladies of History."
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