The Fosters said its official goodbye, at least for the time being, with a big wedding in Turks & Caicos and the Adams-Foster family off to the next phase of their lives.
The three-night event spelled out trouble for Brandon (David Lambert) and his new wife Eliza (Abigail Cowen) as roadblocks continued to pile up on their way to wedded bliss. Whether it be pre-nup agreements or first loves, Brandon and Eliza proved they have the love and loyalty to make it down the aisle, giving the entire Adams-Foster family a chance to reflect on their time together and the show a moment to flash back on all of the tender The Fosters moments over the past five seasons.
The truth is that the kids have all grown up and it is time to move on, but that doesn't mean it's time to move apart. Callie (Maia Mitchell) and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) will move on to their own spin-off Good Trouble, which will likely feature at least cameos from the Adams-Foster clan. However, that might not be the only way we see the family all together again.
TV Guide talked to executive producer Joanna Johnson, who wrote and directed the finale event, about wrapping the series and the hope for more The Fosters events in the future.
You wrote and directed these episodes. So what were the important beats that you felt that you needed to hit with this finale event to feel like you could say goodbye to the show?
Joanna Johnson: Well, I have to say, the way that we sort of approached these last three episodes was not that this is the end, but that this is the beginning — that it's new beginnings for our characters. We've aged them up, they're out of college, they're just starting one of the most exciting chapters of their lives and our moms are starting a new, exciting chapter of their lives, too. They've sold their home, Lena's going to run for State Assembly. Mariana and Callie are going to L.A. and starting new jobs. Brandon and Eliza are newlyweds. Jesus is sort of trying to find himself and start his new business, and Jude is going back to school after having that really hard freshman year.
To me, it didn't feel like so much an ending as sort of saying to everyone, this family will live on. We're going to see them in a spinoff, and who knows, maybe we'll do another Fosters special if it does well. So, we wanted it to be a tearjerker, but more of a celebration of the series than an end of the series.
How long did you guys have the plan that you would end The Fosters with Brandon's wedding, and why did that feel like it was a great culminating event for the series?
Johnson: Honestly, what happened is that the network wanted to really give the show a special sort of conclusion, and they ordered more episodes to do so. They really wanted to sort of honor the fans as much as possible. When we realized that's what we're going to do, it was like, "Well, let's make it about a special event and something hopeful and positive. Not like somebody's dying of cancer, but something hopeful and positive, like a wedding," which is always fun. You know, we all love to see shows about weddings and things that go awry, and so it just made sense to do it that way.
You guys really did play into the, "Is it over for Callie and Brandon?" sort of thing in these last three episodes. How much did you want to lean into that, and how much did you realize that, "Oh no. We can't really play with this because we enforced that they're brother and sister for so long?"
Johnson: We kind of took it to the farthest point that we felt that we should take it. We do ultimately believe that Callie and Brandon should be family and not be married...We definitely had them questioning it, which you do before someone you loved, or you once loved, is getting married. When you're getting married and you're starting to have cold feet about things. We took it as far as we thought we could. We also wanted to give our "Brallie" fans a little something, although they'll probably kill us and be mad at us in the end. But we didn't want to act like "Brallie" never existed. You just couldn't have Brandon getting married and those two not acknowledge their history. And the fact that Eliza didn't know about it and how that impacted everything, because Brandon and Callie do have a very, very special and deep bond that I think would be threatening for someone. Even if it's not a romantic bond, it's still a very tight relationship.
You guys got to go to Turks and Caicos for this finale! How fun was that to get to have this big trip together as your sort of your last hurrah of The Fosters?
Johnson: Oh, it was wonderful. I mean, it was like the perfect way to go out because we did wrap the show in Turks and Caicos because we shot everything in the LA side before we left. It was kind of wonderful to have this whole family vacation, and I think all the kids were really excited to be there. Because they were all there for two weeks, or whatever it was. You know, people can hang out. They could have fun and swim and go out to dinners and just have a good time. It was kind of like a party. I think every show, every series, should end on location like that. That would be my advice, because it's just kind of the best way to go out.
Both Bradley [Bredeweg, co-creator] and Cierra [Ramirez] teased that shooting the final scene was very emotional. Can you finally reveal what was the final scene that you guys shot together, and what it was like to shoot that and put it at the end?
Johnson: Absolutely. It was the rehearsal dinner. And it was Mat and Mariana singing the song, "Love Will Light the Day." We did Mariana's coverage and we were doing Mat's, and that was the last setup of the night. Once I realized that we got it and we had it, I just could not bring myself to say, "That's a series wrap." It was really hard. I just said, "I don't want to say it. I don't want this to be the end."
Of course, it had to be said. Everyone just broke into tears, and not just sad tears but also grateful tears of this journey that we all had together for these years and the wonderful stories we got to tell. How much we all respect and really care about each other in this cast and this crew. The people who had already wrapped the night, the actors all came back and made sure they were there for the very last scene and the very last to hear, "That's a series wrap."
Teri and Sherri hugged and cried for a good 15 minutes. They just are so bonded, and then the whole cast got around them in a big hug. It was really beautiful and it was everything you would hope it would be. And yet it felt like, "OK. There's a future still for this family. There's a future still in the spin-off for these people and this family to get back together and to be seen." That made it better. That made it easier.
What are you hoping is the legacy of this show?
Johnson: I hope that people continue to discover The Fosters. It's always hard when you're on a cable network. As much as Freeform has been fabulous, and they've done an amazing job, it'd be great for people to know about it, because some people don't have the channel. They don't have the basic cable packages and stuff. To maybe find and discover the show on Netflix and realize how brave Freeform was to put this show on the network and how progressive the channel really is. To see that the show can be relevant. I hope this show continues to be relevant; I think it will. I don't think it's gonna feel dated that quickly. That would be my hope, is that people continue to discover it or go back and revisit it.
Do you have a final message for fans of The Fosters that also have to say goodbye to the show?
Johnson: Well, I would say to the fans that they've been some of the most loyal and supportive fans. They have given us so much inspiration to tell these stories. My heart is just as broken as theirs to see this show end, but it isn't over. It's just changing forms. We're so grateful and lucky that Freeform has asked for the spin-off so that it's not the end for The Fosters or the family. We're gonna see them and I think that's really heartening. I'm hoping that maybe there's an opportunity to do another Fosters special at some point or a two-hour movie because I do think that another wonderful thing about the spin-off is that it keeps our family relevant and alive. I would just say thank you for being with us all this time, and we're not done. It's not over.
Good Trouble is coming soon to Freeform.