The Fosters concluded its fifth and final season with a touching graduation ceremony and a four-year time jump, which meant big changes for a few members of the Adams-Foster family.
On the Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum) front, their trip to a relationship retreat helped Stef break down the anxiety she’s been experiencing over the course of the season. She was able to confront the damaging insecurities she developed as a teenager with her disapproving parents and begin the hard road to loving herself for exactly who she is. That breakthrough helped her and Lena bridge the gap in their relationship and once again return to wedded bliss.
Brandon (David Lambert) didn’t have nearly as good of a time. It turned out that Grace (Meg DeLacy) didn’t respond to the gene therapy and she made the decision to stop getting treatment for her leukemia. There wasn’t a magical new cure or turnaround either. She died the night before Brandon and Callie’s (Maia Mitchell) graduation, leaving Brandon in shambles the morning of his big day. Luckily, Callie was able to convince him to show up for their big day and they made it just in time to graduate with the rest of their class. They received their diplomas and we found out that Brandon made it into the Musician’s Institute and Callie was able to score a last minute spot in the University of California San Diego’s five-year law program.
Brandon and Callie’s graduation wasn’t the only one fans got to see at the end of the two-hour 100th episode event. The show skipped forward to Jesus (Noah Centineo) and Mariana’s (Cierra Ramirez) graduation. Jesus was also able to graduate with the rest of his class and continued on to San Diego Community College. Mariana was accepted to MIT with Emma (Amanda Leighton). The show then skipped forward another three years to Jude’s (Hayden Byerly) graduation. The youngest member of the Adams-Foster family will be spending his college days at UCLA.
The series could have ended there, with everyone in their chosen fields, but the season finale is actually a set up for The Fosters three-night series finale event airing this summer on Freeform. That special event will be the pathway for The Fosters spin-off centered on Callie and Mariana coming to the network later on. TV Guide talked to The Fosters executive producer and co-creator Bradley Bredeweg about the emotional two-hour episode, the time jump revelations and what we can expect as the series comes to an official close.
Did you know that you wanted to time jump or is that something that came about once you knew that this was going to be the semi-end of the series?
Bradley Bredeweg: It’s something that came about over the last couple of years, especially when we knew we were building towards the end of the show because we had such a tight timeline that kind of kept us a few years behind anyways within our Fosters world. We knew that as we grew up the kids and wanted to see them enter into adulthood that we were going to have to kind of speed things up. So it just came naturally out of the storytelling process within the room.
We do have these final three episodes that are going to air this summer which will serve as the big conclusion. This time jump is only four years. Callie and Mariana still have one more year of school, at least. Can you say how much time the summer finale will encompass?
Bredeweg: The final three episodes are taking us into their young adult lives. There’s a slight time jump but it’s really the last three episodes focus on a very specific short amount of time for us.
I found it very interesting that Jude decided to go to UCLA, which is going to make it very convenient for him to maybe pop in on Callie and Mariana when these two are in their own spinoff.
Bredeweg: Yes. There’s a lot of possibilities for Jude to make his presence known and we’re going to want to check in with that wonderful young man. As you probably know, Brandon also lives in Los Angeles pursuing his music career within the business. So they will be around.
Was there anyone that you wanted to get back for these final two episodes and maybe also for the three-episode finale coming up?
Bredeweg: For me, it would be AJ. I would love to have been able to explore where he’s at in his life right now. But unfortunately, the actor took a sabbatical in Europe and we’re so proud and happy that he got to do it. I was a little bummed that we weren’t able to explore that a little bit more. But he had a great foster family and foster father in Mike. We can only assume that his life is continuing to grow and flourish.
Stef and Lena have broken so many boundaries and gotten so far over the years. Why did that feel like an interesting story to break Stef down to her teenage anxieties at the end of the series?
Bredeweg: Because even though we’re all continuing to grow and better ourselves and our lives and our relationships, we all still have so much underneath that and so many layers and so many things that happen to us in our lives, especially our younger lives that we haven’t always quite dealt with. Peter [Paige], Johanna [Johnson] and I just got to talking about anxiety and how it affects the three of us really. We’re in a very high-pressure world and where does that come from? What is the seed of that anxiety? What is the birth of that anxiety? We know Stef to be this force to be reckoned with and this woman that takes on life with so much strength. But, you know, she’s vulnerable too sometimes and we wanted to get underneath that and really discover and understand why she may say something like that. We found it to be an interesting time to dive into it.
She does get to shed her guilt over lying for Mike at the end of this episode. Does she get to stay a cop?
Bredeweg: Stef will step into something a little bit different. She won’t stay a cop. I will tell you that.
I was not expecting Grace to die in these final episodes. That was heartbreaking. Why did that feel like the best way to end that story line for Brandon?
Bredeweg: There was one of two ways of going about this. Brandon’s been through so much this season. He’s grown into such a young gentleman and we really talked about how interesting it would be to explore that story on him because no person his age should have to face death like that. But, if anyone can take it on it’s Brandon because he was raised by two incredibly strong women.
Now we get to see him apply all that he’s learned from his moms to take on life after Grace. Let me tell you, he takes it on head on and then some. I think you’ll be able to tell that Brandon is going to build this incredible life for himself. There may be hints of how he moves on and who he moves on with in our finale too. But I don’t want to divulge too much on that.
On Callie’s side, it feels like law was the most obviously choice for her. Why do you think it took her so long to figure it out for herself?
Bredeweg: Sometimes what’s so obviously and right in front of us, we tend to ignore or dodge it a little bit. I think we all have to explore the other possibilities before we really make that one big life decision. Because Callie is who she is and because her journey has been so incredibly present these last five years, particularly. She went from this girl lost within our system with no real hope for a future to this young, powerful woman with the entire world of possibilities in front of her. I think that’s a big reason why we wanted to explore the different layers and possibilities on her.
It’s so sad that the show itself is ending, but we do get to stay with these characters. What does aging them up allow you to do and how will exploring them in this new way be different from what we’ve been seeing on the series?
Bredeweg: It’s just good to be able to see all of these kids that we knew as kids and through their young adult lives as a family and really setup the platform for them to go out into the world and succeed. Then the spinoff is about these twenty-somethings out in the world fighting for their lives and fighting to build lives for themselves and fighting for what they believe in. We’re seeing a lot of that right now. We’re seeing the younger generation, especially for example in Florida, doing just that a few weeks ago. We want to explore what it’s like to be at a young adult age when you find yourself in a world of chaos and you want so desperately to make it better.
These final two episodes felt like they could have been the series finale by themselves. What did you guys feel like still needed to be explored/wrapped up before you moved into the spin-off and the summer specials?
Bredeweg: You’re absolutely right. It does feel like a finale but we also wanted to … we’re not ready to say goodbye to the Foster family. The fans out in the world aren’t ready to say goodbye. We really wanted to give everyone a final goodbye to this family and really spend time with them as a unit to see what happens in their lives after the foundation and the structure that we’ve all experienced these last five years on the show. So we take them outside the house and we enter a different world and we see what this family is like outside those walls of the Fosters’ home.
This is going to be a tough one. What are you most proud of, of everything that you’ve done on The Fosters so far?
Bredeweg: Oh my gosh. Look, we’ve been so incredibly lucky to be able to work on this show for five years, especially the last two years during the current political fire storm. To be able to tell these kinds of stories that seem to make a difference and seem to inspire our younger generation of viewers I think has been the job and the opportunity of a lifetime. I can’t even put into words how grateful I am to have been a part of this.
We all tear up every time we think about how lucky we’ve been to be able to be a part of this family. I’ll say our last night together just a few nights ago as a family on set was one of the most beautiful but probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. We wrapped at like 5:30 in the morning and we all just stood there in this big group hug not wanting to let go. We kind of literally didn’t. We just stood there for what seemed like forever until the sun came up. I think just being a part of this family and being on this journey with this incredible cast and being able to tell these stories during this time has been quite a beautiful journey for all of us.
The Fosters will return for a three-night series finale event this summer.