What an amazingly productive week it has been! I sewed myself a maxi dress (in the final stages I mangled it in the serger and had to throw it out), repainted our front door (didn’t prime it correctly and still have to scrape all the paint that’s now peeling off), and rearranged our indoor plants so that our condo looks like it belongs in Dwell (mission accomplished). Kit and I also caught the premiere episode of ABC Family’s The Fosters.
If you haven’t heard already, The Fosters is about a married lesbian couple raising biological, adopted, and foster children in Southern California. To add to the mix, theirs is also a multi-racial family. As part of ABC’s Family dramas, they really do go beyond tokenism. Race and sexuality and blended family aren’t going to be one-offs: they are the foundations for the series and integral to character identities. Think of the ABC Family series Switched at Birth and how race/ethnicity and Deaf culture permeate. That said, there is something off about The Fosters.
One mom, Lena, played by Sherri Saum, is a vice-principal at a charter school, and the other mom, Stef, played by Teri Polo, is a cop. Both of these incredibly beautiful women fit very clear queer occupational stereotypes, but neither of them reads as queer femme or queer butch. Mind you, the hot “femme” vice-principal and hot “butch” cop who both come off feminine — not femme or butch— made sense when the show was originally pitched to Spike TV as MILF². While Spike TV audiences generally love a good dose of the queer politics that are inevitably talked about in queer families, ABC Family evacuated those for the first episode. Will they appear later? Every gay person in California says, “Yes, they will.” One can only hope that in future episodes that one’s gaydar pings, rather than reading two heterosexual women who happen to be married, kiss, and call each other honey. As all housewives know, being queer isn’t simply about who you’re married to.
The elaborate backstory regarding how two women raising three kids manage to have an impeccably decorated home was also ditched by ABC producers. In the unaired pilot, Lena and Stef’s luxury furnishings were acquired after winning a contest at West Elm. Most scenes in the Foster home still feature at least one $400 floor pouf.
So what’s next?
Here are Portman Doe’s hallucinogenic predictions (*some minor spoilers from the first episode*):
1. Brandon and Callie are going to hook up at some point. Sitting together on the bus to San Ysidro, the outside of their thighs were glued to each other. I’ve been to high school. I know what this means. BONER! Their secret across-the-hall love affair is going to cause havoc once Moms find out, but in the end it’s okay since Callie realizes that she’s a lesbian.
2. Either Jude comes out as trans (in 3 or 4 years) or they never mention him trying on a dress again. (If, instead, Jude is just gay and that’s supposedly why he put a dress on, then I will burn shit down.)
3. Brandon’s dad Mike turns out to be a dickbag. (Oh wait, that already happened. Brandon is involved in a very dangerous situation involving a gun, so Mike tells his son he’s going to kill him. Also, everything Mike ever says to anyone. Ever. So far.)
4. There are more completely obvious metaphors. (Brandon says there’s something missing in his musical composition about his family. Maybe what he needs to complete his original piece is another brother and sister!)
5. Bill is the social worker and friend of the family who we never get to meet in the first episode. Turns out he’s a social worker by day and a drag queen by night. John Larroquette rocks the role, especially when he plays Yum-Yum in an all drag performance of The Mikado, which is hosted in the charter school’s crazy beautiful auditorium.
Despite the fact that Kit and I don’t usually watch teen dramas, we are definitely going to keep watching The Fosters. It is the only television show on that has two gay women as the leads, and the basic plot is pretty damn compelling.
P.S. I didn’t make any predictions regarding the twins, Jesus and Mariana. I honestly don’t know where these characters are headed, except Mariana could make a mint selling ADHD meds at a charter school full of rich kids and Jesus and Mariana are going to have a lot more to say about living in a multicultural family.