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'The Fosters' draws diverse audience -- and criticism

'The Fosters' draws diverse audience -- and criticism

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LOS ANGELES | When One Million Moms came out against “The Fosters,” producers just smiled.

“For me, a stamp of disapproval from One Million Moms is like a critic’s pick,” says Executive Producer Peter Paige. “You tell me not to watch it and I’m sure to check it out.”

Chronicling the lives of a blended family, complete with same-sex parents, foster kids and extended relatives, “The Fosters” has gotten considerable attention, particularly on social media.

Even though all of it has not been positive, “any publicity is good publicity,” says star Teri Polo.

Adds co-star Cierra Ramirez: “You don’t have haters? We’re doing something wrong.”

“The Fosters,” though, doesn’t shy from topics. In addition to covering its leads’ wedding, it has toyed with the idea of teen romance (between the Brady Bunch-like siblings) and cross-dressing.

“We knew we wanted to tell a story about a multicultural family,” says Executive Producer Bradley Bredeweg. “Once we decided who the other mother would be – would she be Latin or African-American – we just built the family from there.”

For Polo and Sherri Saum, who play the lesbian couple, the relationship has been effortless.

“As an old actress that’s been doing this for 27 years, there has never been another actor or actress that I have ever bonded with, respected, appreciated, was grateful for in my entire career,” Polo says. ‘Sherri is not only one of the most amazing actresses I’ve ever met but one the most beautiful women.”

Saum echoes her sentiments: “I feel married, divorced and remarried to her. I feel like I’ve known her my whole life.”

The two are so close they’ll often hang out, hold hands and cuddle when the cameras aren’t rolling. They’re not a couple (Polo is with drummer Jamie Wollam, Staum is married to Kamar de los Reyes and gave birth to twin boys May 13) but they are supportive of same-sex marriage.

Because “The Fosters” covers such a unique situation, actors don’t do a lot of research. “This show, honestly, became the lesson that I feel like I’m still learning,” says David Lambert. “I feel like I’m becoming more and more enlightened as I’m a part of this crazy ride.”

The teenage “relationship,” he says, just snowballed.

“They’re teenagers,” adds Maia Mitchell. “At the end of the day, they have instincts and feelings.”

And, says Polo, “no idea of the consequences.”

While Mitchell’s and Lambert’s characters aren’t related, “there’s no reason that they couldn’t be together,” says producer Joanna Johnson. “It makes you question, ‘What is a family and what is adoption when you adopt teenagers?”

Paige says the storyline proves “The Fosters” doesn’t shy away from anything. And it’s having an impact.

Polo says she feels like one of The Beatles. “I have people stop me in the grocery store and tell me how grateful they are. I’ve had different members of the LGBT community come up and tell me how grateful they are that we’re on the air. It’s an absolute honor to be a part of this show.”

Says Saum: “There’s an 86-year-old nun at my mom’s church who is always talking about the show. She’s so excited for the next episode. So it’s amazing to see the generations that it spans.”

"The Fosters" airs Mondays on ABC Family.

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