Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Fosters

This woman is making me laugh! And you know when someone makes you laugh…

Teri Polo…it’s like someone heard my thoughts and probably from many others. I don’t remember when was the first time I watched Teri Polo but it is very likely that it was in Beyond Borders playing Angelina Jolie’s sister. Then we all saw her in the family franchise Meet the Parents, then Meet the Fockers. I never saw Little Fockers. I actually don’t remember ever seeing the entire films, from beginning to end. Anyway, I always saw Teri Polo’s presence as something completely far away from these films. Like something completely apart from the movie itself, like she wasn’t even part of the story and in a way, she kind of isn’t. She’s just there, being the anchor to Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ve seen anything else from her, but consciously I always kept sort of asking and waiting for someone to give Teri Polo a leading role, something to show us this actress in all her form, with a rich set of emotions. I wasn’t even thinking of gay, but hey...maybe I was. The hot Teri Polo is finally in a leading role, quite the interesting one actually, and I can finally see her and see her amusing presence winning me over. Not that her partner in crime, Sherry Saum, isn’t too.

See at the way she smiles because of Stef?
She's making me smile too.

I guess I loved The Fosters, starting with a really interesting, really consistent Pilot. I’ll be following it, pretty faithfully every week.
Like my friend one time described The Walking Dead as we finished seeing the entire first season – the united colors of Benetton – not only we both agreed on how ordinary and not new this show was we also went further about the stereotyped characters and also their ethnicity, therefore the United Colors of Benetton. Let’s throw in the Hispanic, the white bully, the hot blond, the black, the smart Japanese with a great hand for cars, and you know the rest, oh and obviously, the white protagonists.  And with this I wanted to create the bridge to The Fosters. While watching the pilot, I remembered the united colors of Benetton sentence my friend used, but whereas The Walking Dead seems to use it only as a mere agenda with no particular attention and care, with The Fosters it matters. And how does it matter? They just are who they are, there seems to be no particular agenda and more importantly because they care. These characters live their lives and they deal with their heritage and their inherited luggage. And whether you’re white or Hispanic or black, people still have to deal with who they are, where they come from and eventually, it is also discussed. They’re certainly not walking clichés because they have a personality, which makes them unique in the most universal way, because they’re treated as people not as stereotypes. This is about a family, two mothers, a biological son from one of them, who adopted a pair of Hispanic twins and by being who they are they deal with their daily lives and if they need to confront their ethnicity they do it, if they’re confronted with insinuations there’s a reliable dialogue and action. And so on.

Obviously when a show with a plot line that interests you you hope for something sober. But with these types of plot lines, you know, that includes the gay and racial themes, it can be tricky. The thought that the show can turn out to be a fail, or crap, is also part of the options. On this line, another curious aspect of this show is that it is created by two gentlemen. The story of a multi-ethnic story of foster (white), adopted (Hispanic), and biological kids being raised by two moms, finely written by two men with female writers involved too.

"I know."

One of the aspects I like about The Fosters is that it doesn’t bring easy issues but they’re not heavy handed, with deep dramatic bursts. I’m not saying they take it lightly either. They rather take it quite soberly. This show is also about the little moments, and they’re the most satisfying. Like in this last fourth episode, Mama Lena is struggling after having a fight with her mother about being biracial and Stef looking at her companion heartbroken instantly makes her smile. In this line, the characters are pretty consistent too. From the first moment Stef walks in her house, that first entrance, where she’s straightforward, open and pretty rational, and she just says “And who’s this?”, she keeps being pretty rational, straightforward and gentle. And the creators keep stepping over stereotypes. Even though Stef is the cop doesn’t mean she’s the coldest one. Just because she’s the cop, it doesn’t mean she’s not the one wearing a nice dress, because she is. Stef Foster is a great character and Teri Polo is really fantastic and loveable. She always has the ‘awkward’ conversations and she always makes them amusing and naturally authentic. Then there are other moments she brings solid acts without even saying anything. Even in a wide shot or in the background she’s present, looking proud, laughing, being Stef. Lena is pretty irresistible too. Oh god she’s irresistible. Just listening to her speak melts your heart.

Then the teenagers arrive. The annoying teenagers! They are also an interesting case, because for teenagers they’re not that annoying, at least for now. Brandon is the good kid, Jesus is also the good kid but towards the sporty, Mariana plays a spoiled kid that at the end of the day acknowledges her flaws. They’re good kids because they had a pleasant upbringing. It will be interesting how the situation with the foster kids will evolve too. They have their legitimate struggles and I’m sure more will come to the surface. I’m still trying to figure it out if it is about the acting or more about the character, but I feel like Jake T. Austin isn't very natural. Sometimes I think he’ll look at the camera. I probably need to give it some time. Maybe the other teenagers are doing a pretty good job. The scenes always feel natural, at least most of them. It’s an honest show so it feels authentic.

“Thanks…I mean, as a feminist I’m totally offended and everything but, as her wife, you know, thanks.”

So indeed, there are plenty of things I like about this show. Being about foster kids, being about adopted kids, being about family dynamics, this show never feels pedantic and by not being pedantic it becomes quite essential and entertaining! I really love the whole thing. The fact that it is a show that people watch in their homes, the idea that the mundane is as natural in gay families, if you could call that, as it is in the traditional families, if you could call that. When so many still think it’s against God, or you know, some gay propaganda.

Resuming The Fosters: so far, so interesting. Teri Polo shines, looks beautiful, reminds you of Jodie Foster at times, and finally, finally someone answered my “prayers” (I don’t pray). Her co-star called Sherri Saum is the cutest thing on earth, with her sweet sweet gentle voice. The kids are so and so. The story is unfolding and…what is up with LIAM?

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