THE FOSTERS Panel at ATX TV Fest/Episode 3×01: All-Around Awesomeness

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For the last panel of the ATX TV Fest Season 4, I attended a screening of THE FOSTERS Season 3 premiere (before it aired on Monday!), and a panel discussion with the co-creator and stars of the show. This was the festival event that I was looking forward to the most and it did not disappoint. From the very beginning, in line waiting to enter the venue with a Fast Pass (reserved seating), I was able to discuss the show with other fans. Then I chose a seat close to the front and I looked behind me and saw “Reserved” seating behind me. Hmm… Then…it turns out I was sitting right in front of co-creator/executive producer Peter Paige, Teri Polo (“Stef”), Sherri Saum (“Lena”) and surprise guest Kerr Smith (“Robert Quinn”), who was at the festival for the DAWSON’S CREEK events.

When it aired on ABC Family, the Twitter hashtag #CalliesSecret was used during the episode, which I thought was funny because Callie has kept a lot of secrets throughout the series! But the theme of secret-keeping is fitting because in the past 24 hours I had to keep a secret: I knew the details of the Season 3 premiere before other people did. We were sworn to secrecy so that Disney-ABC Television Group would keep doing special screenings like this. Now, I can finally break my silence and give a recap of all of the excitement and awesomeness.

It was so unbelievable to be able to see the premiere at the ATX TV Fest more than a full day before it was set to air. It was a true once-in-a-lifetime experience, to see one of your favorite shows on a movie screen, with the stars and creator, and fellow fans. When the opening title sequence came up with the surround sound and on the big screen, I was in heaven. ♫ It’s not where you come from, it’s where you belong. ♫ I’m not the only one who thinks THE FOSTERS has the best opening credit sequence on television: check out this article from Slate.

I’ll give some impressions of the episode that I have been anxiously awaiting for months. [SPOILERS AHEAD.]

The entire episode was fantastic, from the opening sequence in which Stef and Mariana embrace near the wreckage of the Volvo to the ending scene in which Callie stands, stunned and crushed, at the drop-in center. Since there’s so much to say and I’m sure no one wants to read a dissertation, I’ll hit on a few bits that I thought were most important/interesting/even frustrating.

Here we go…

The car accident: JESUS DIDN’T DIE, GUYS! Take a breath. I thought the most amusing thing about following Twitter when I already knew that Jesus didn’t die would be people’s reactions to the fact that he is alive (and at Flintwood Academy) but what I ended up most amused by was the fact that people thought that the entire accident was Stef’s dream and that they had worried for nothing. No. The accident happened, but no one died (although that “one fatality” comment over the dispatch radio is still a mystery…Stef seems to allude to the fact that it was a fluke, a piece of misinformation?) I am really glad that Jesus didn’t die because it leaves things more open (i.e. Callie tells Jesus over the phone that he needs to come home for her adoption in a month or so! Such a cute moment. Let’s hope that she actually gets adopted once and for all…) Update: now it looks like they are recasting the role…I don’t really like that idea, but I guess they think it will work.

Callie and the drop-in center: At the panel discussion, Peter Paige mentioned that many foster children express desires to become social workers or lawyers to become the advocates that they may never have had. He also noted that this season will be about Callie reaching out beyond her and Jude’s experience to help others. I am so excited for that, and so I hope she figures out some way to stay involved with the drop-in center…

Lena and Stef: No one has to die for a car accident to bring emotional turmoil, and Stef and Lena both still struggle (as Stef searches frantically for the driver of the car and Lena repeatedly tells Brandon to drive safe). The writers really set things up nicely for Lena and Stef’s relationship to come into conflict this season, as Lena still struggles with Monte and Stef finds it hard to let go of the case.

 One question: When did Wyatt get back in town? I pride myself on being an “expert” on the show, but I didn’t understand when he came back—I studied Episode 2×13 “Stay” for my class, and thought Wyatt left after Callie gave him his parting gift, but upon closer inspection it looks like it was left ambiguous and he could have stayed).

Jude and Connor: No labels. Enough said. Jude deserves to just be Jude. Just like he deserves to be happy. He has gone through, in the words of Wyatt, “a lot of bad stuff,” and he and Connor deserve the thrill of young love. In many ways, this rejection of labels (“gay,” “the kid with the dead mom,” etc) represents Jude’s desire for normalcy, which mirrors Callie’s summer ambition to “be a normal teenager” instead of one burdened and hardened by years in the foster system.

At the ATX panel after the screening, everyone involved had a wide-ranging discussion with plenty of laughs and Teri/Sherri chemistry. It was immediately obvious that the two women have a unique relationship—a deep friendship based on mutual respect, trust, love and encouragement. If only everyone could have that. Peter Paige made a joke about Teri coming out, and even though they are not Stef/Lena in real life, it is interesting to note that successful marriages are based on the same qualities that they share together. I was particularly struck by Kerr Smith’s astute and incisive comments. I’m not “Team Quinn,” but my respect for “Robert” has grown over Season 2B and I am excited to see what’s next for that relationship. Kerr Smith is obviously a very thoughtful actor.

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Sunday’s event was such an amazing experience, and I was even able to meet Teri Polo and take a picture with her in the lobby of the hotel at the last minute. My festival experience was complete.

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This weekend really solidified my interest in television writing. I feel so passionate about shows like THE FOSTERS, and I want to be able to give that sense of joy and excitement to others in the future. Better start reading through all of my television writing books…

tv writing books

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2 thoughts on “THE FOSTERS Panel at ATX TV Fest/Episode 3×01: All-Around Awesomeness

  1. Loved reading this! It sounds like ATX was such an awesome experience. Also, how cool that you got a photo with Teri Polo–the icing on the cake!

    Like

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