Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, it was pretty common to find a teen show on TV any night of the week. You had your cheesy guilty pleasures like Dawson’s Creek and your quiet dramas like My So-Called Life and Felicity and everyone’s fave mom and daughter team, Gilmore Girls. These days, the teen-focused drama is few and far between, and I’m forever searching for something that feels like the glory days of adolescent drama. But there is one show that you should be watching: The Fosters. The second part of season three came back to ABC Family (oh, sorry, the channel is now called Freeform) on January 25th and you can totally jump right in. But you probably want to catch up on all the family drama, and luckily for you, you can watch the previous seasons on Netflix. Here are 15 reasons The Fosters should be your favorite show. This is one teen show you definitely don’t want to miss.
15 It Goes There
It’s 2016 and our world has thankfully come a long way in terms of tolerance and social rights. The Fosters is a storytelling superstar when it comes to gay rights. This important issue is built right into the premise of the show, since Stef and Lena are a gay couple who are treated as – get this – a normal couple. It’s about time. Stef and Lena get married in one beautiful episode and 13-year-old Jude is in a relationship with his classmate Connor.
14 There’s A Forbidden Love Story
Swoon. Callie and Brandon are not technically step-siblings yet (it’s a super long story) but they’re the major love story of the show. They’re basically Romeo and Juliet and their bond is bittersweet. If you’ve ever loved someone you couldn’t actually date or been forced to see your ex every day of your life, you can probably relate. Although this plotline could quickly become super melodramatic, it’s always pretty realistic. Just another reason this is a top-notch show.
13 You’ll Want To Live In This Home
In the pilot, Callie and her younger brother Jude arrive at the Fosters residence. And by residence I mean the most beautiful California hippie-ish house you’ve ever laid eyes on. Stef and Lena – a cop and high school principal – have decorated their home in cozy, eclectic manner that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a blanket and never, ever leave. They live there with Stef’s son, Brandon, from her previous marriage, and adopted twins Mariana and Jesus. Almost every episode begins with the gang eating breakfast (or rushing around and not eating breakfast) around the huge wooden table in the kitchen. You want to be part of this big happy family that really is happy (well, most of the time – there’s tons of drama, of course).
12 It’s Funny
Simply put, this show is seriously funny. Although the premise is a real Debbie Downer – two siblings who were in foster care and juvie find their forever family – the characters each have their own biting and witty sense of humor. The most hilarious of the bunch is Mariana. She’s your classic girly teenage girl who would do almost anything to be popular. Her constant eye-rolling and clever comebacks will keep you watching. Even the storylines are funny in their own way – with every twist and turn of this family’s life, the characters sigh and moan and joke about the way that plans can change in an instant.
11 You’ll Be Nostaglic
Part of the fun of watching teen-centered shows is remembering what it was like to be in high school. Every moment meant so much and you felt like every time you walked down the hallways, you could meet your forever love or at least bump into your crush from Math class. Your heart will ache every time you watch the love triangle between Callie, Brandon and Callie’s sometimes boyfriend Wyatt (played by the adorable Alex Saxon with adorable hair who also starred on the now cancelled MTV teen show Finding Carter). You will shudder at the mean girls when Mariana tries out for the dance team. You will be so glad that you’re grown-up now.
10 It’s Never Preachy
Social issues are hidden underneath every single storyline on The Fosters but this show is the furthest thing from preachy. It’s just honest about how hard life is. Every character has moments in every episode where they seem pretty exhausted by the demands of school, work, family, relationships, and just life in general. You can definitely see yourself in these characters, even if what you’re going through is totally different.
9 It’s Still A Soap Opera
The best part about most TV dramas? The fact that despite their best intentions, they can come off kind of soap opera-ish at times. That’s definitely a good thing, though, when it comes to entertainment because nothing is more entertaining than a soap opera. Your eyes will be glued to your TV (or computer if that’s how you’re watching) and you won’t believe how much can happen in each 40-minute episode. Plus, the actor who played Jesus quit the show and has recently been replaced, and what’s more like a soap opera than that?
8 It’s Important
This series deals with gay rights, feminism, first loves, how to come out to your family and friends, how to follow your dreams, suicide, mental illness, and that’s not even all. It’s a super important show that deals with incredibly crucial issues that matter to people today, but you will never feel like you’re watching an after-school special. You’ll just grow to care about these characters like they really were your own family. If that inspires you to be more compassionate towards the people in your world who are going through something, well, that’s just an awesome bonus of watching an amazing TV show.
7 It’s Not Just About The Kids
The best teen dramas of the past focused on the adults as well as the adolescent characters, and The Fosters is no different. There are tons of interesting adult characters, from Stef and Lena to Stef’s ex-husband and cop partner Mike. The adults take this drama to another level since they help prove that life doesn’t magically get a million times better and easier when you graduate from high school – life is a journey full of good and bad, ups and downs, and sometimes you just can’t catch a break.
6 It Has Rosie O’Donnell
For a while, Callie was sent to live in a home with several other kids, and the woman in charge was played by none other than Rosie O’Donnell. She’s such a good actress and almost steals the entire show. Recently, she’s been at the center of a storyline involving depression and addiction and she also helps shine a light on some important issues involving the broken foster care system. Her character is a strong woman and definitely inspiring to watch.
5 It Has Jack From Dawson’s Creek
Remember the adorable and charming Jack, Jen’s BFF on the beloved cheese ball of a 90s TV show? Well he’s back on the small screen and this time he’s been playing Callie’s biological father. He’s pretty amazing and adds just the right amount of dramatic tension to the series. He’s recently been pretty absent as the third season marches toward its conclusion but here’s hoping he reappears at least once or twice.
4 It’s Earnest
In a sea of violent dramas like Game Of Thrones, it’s nice that a show like The Fosters that is super earnest still exists. There’s room for all kinds of shows in today’s super crowded TV landscape and this one features characters who are morally good and are trying their best in every situation they find themselves in. They don’t always have the answers but they try to be good people, and that’s just super sweet and comforting, like a warm glass of milk before you go to bed.
3 It’s Got Music
The character of Brandon is an amazingly talented musician who plays the piano, but that’s not all – he also has a rock band. That causes a lot of tension since he used to date one of the female members of his band. In the current season, he’s staging a rock version of Romeo and Juliet… yeah, probably more than a little inspired by his forbidden romance with Callie. The show often features Brandon playing the piano or his band performing and they’re actually really good.
2 It Has Cliffhangers
Every season finale or mid-season finale features something totally crazy – a cliffhanger, if you will. The best shows keep you guessing and always keep you on your toes, dying to know what’s going to happen next to the characters that you adore, and this show is no different. It definitely delivers season after season and has more than a few tweetable moments that will leave you with your jaw on the floor.
1 It’s Relatable
Finally, The Fosters is a very relatable show. It proves that family is what really matters in this world and that every family looks super different from each other, but that’s not a big deal at all. You might have a huge family with tons of siblings, you might be an only child, you might be living with some foster siblings, you might have two moms – it’s all good. Everyone struggles the same way, everyone goes through times good and bad, and what your family looks like on the outside isn’t the most important thing. What are you waiting for? Watch The Fosters today and fall in love with this series.