As “The Fosters” prepares to return for the back half of its third season on Monday (Jan. 25), there are all new complications ahead for Callie and her family. After a joyous midseason finale, where Callie was finally officially adopted, it’s time for the dust to settle — and every relationship within the family will be tested.
Zap2it spoke with Sherri Saum (Lena Foster) about what to expect when the season picks back up. From Stef’s health to Callie and Brandon’s relationship to Lena’s struggle to remain professional with Monte Porter (Annika Marks), Saum tells us how the family will be coping.
After the Monte situation, what would you say is the state of Lena and Stef’s relationship when Season 3 returns?
It’s going to be a rough road because you know, it wasn’t some kind of like, ‘Oh hey, I met some girl out at a bar, and she kissed me, but I’ll never see her again.’ It was, you know, I work with this woman now on a daily basis. And it was more than just a kiss; it was the emotional betrayal of sharing personal stuff with somebody and all the things you’re supposed to do with your spouse.
So that stuff is deep, and Stef is being really, really generous by trying to be okay with me going back to work with Monte and that whole deal. It’s just going to take some time to prove that we can work together as professionals and respect my marriage.
Jude and Connor have become a wonderful relationship on the show. How Jude will be coping with Connor leaving?
Every teenager goes through this. But the beautiful thing that I’m so grateful for is that Jude has his forever family … I can’t imagine him being bounced around to these abusive foster homes, and then on top of that, trying to come into his own and trying to figure out his sexuality and falling in love. How could he possibly be able to deal with all that, not having a loving environment? But I think he’ll be okay. He’s got us, and these are “quality problems,” let’s say.
Jesus is now being played by Noah Centineo instead of Jake T. Austin. How has it been seeing a new actor in an old role?
He fits right in. He fits like a glove in our cast. He’s definitely his own Jesus. He’s making the character his own, which is wonderful. It’s really a lot of pressure with social media, and everybody’s got their favorite, so it’s hard to see a new character come into a show, but he’s handling it beautifully and with so much poise. He’s a really good actor, and we love working with him. He didn’t skip a beat.
So what does the return of Jesus mean for the family now?
It’s definitely going to shake things up for a lot of reasons, but I think that no matter what happens it’s kind of a good timing thing because of what Stef’s going through with her health — to have her whole family there to support her. She’s going to need all the help she can get, even if it means longer lines in the bathroom in the morning.
What does Stef’s health mean for her and Lena, and for the family as a whole?
It’s one of those things that’s not like a broken leg; it’s not an illness that can just be fixed in a week. It’s such a devastating thing to happen. I always look for — and I think Lena always looks for — the silver lining, and I think that’s going to go a long way toward refocusing our priorities and how much we mean to each other. Petty annoyances and these little trivial things that happen in life kind of melt away.
Now that Callie is officially adopted, how are Stef and Lena going to deal with the ever-shifting dynamic between Callie and Brandon?
Oh yeah, it’s going to be rough because we fought so hard to get to be a family again, and we thought we had all the pieces put together, and this just throws another wrench into the system. How do you deny the feelings that you have? How do you put them away and say, “No, we’re going to be a family. We’re just going to be siblings?”
It’s tough, but we’re going to have to work extra hard to kind of double down and remember why we are all here. We’re here to be a family, and Callie needs that more than she needs anything.
‘The Fosters’ has so many great messages about families and parenting and sexuality and growing up, so what would you say is the biggest or your favorite message fans can look forward to?
I think the big one for me – and it always has been – is just acceptance. I just don’t think that there has ever been a show quite like this that really lets kids know that they are all OK. Whatever stripe you are, that you are perfect the way you are. It’s just so groundbreaking in that way, and the response we’ve gotten with social media really shows that.
So many beautiful kids out there just coming forward and saying, “My gosh, I came out to my mom, and I could never have done that without your show. And now my aunt watches the show, and she never accepted me, and now she does.”
All these kinds of things. I think it’s just, it’s overwhelming because to feel accepted and to feel like you’re OK, especially at those tender ages, it’s everything. It can make the difference of the path in your life, and it makes me really proud to be a part of a show like that.
“The Fosters” returns Monday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Freeform.