'The Fosters' Producers on Callie and Brandon's Journey: "They're Star-Crossed Lovers"

The Fosters Still - H 2015
ABC Family/Tony Rivetti

The Fosters Still - H 2015

The already overcrowded Fosters-Adams family gained another member during Monday's midseason finale of ABC Family's The Fosters.

While Callie’s adoption is a victory for her and the family, it’s bittersweet after Callie (Maia Mitchell) and Brandon (David Lambert) finally expressed their love for one another, in more ways than one.

The first half of season three has featured a character having an irregular mammogram, confrontations about the n-word, a morning-after conversation, a potential break-up, an almost-failed adoption, at least two broken hearts as well as a reintroduction to a character everyone forgot was gone.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with showrunners/exec producers/writers Bradley BredewegJoanna Johnson and Peter Paige to discuss what’s coming up in the second half of season three, Brandon's bad rap, the new Jesus and more.

Why was the time right to formalize Callie's adoption?

Paige: It was a big decision to get Callie adopted, but we can’t drag the story out and pull the rug out one more time. We have to have faith that she’s a really compelling character still in really interesting situations whether or not she’s been officially adopted into the family.

Johnson: Callie has been a very reactive character from the beginning because things were happening to her or not happening to her. She didn’t have a lot of control over her life. It’s time to make her a proactive character now, to have her own her strength and have some control over her journey.

Callie and Brandon had sex, professed their love for one another and then Callie's adoption was finalized. It was such a bittersweet move. What inspired that?

Paige: They’re star-crossed lovers. We have to continue to cross those stars. They believed that the adoption was off the table. They were alone in a cabin and the situation presented itself and it felt true to who the characters were. I’m grateful we got to experience that moment with them. Nothing is ever off the table at The Fosters as long as it’s based in reality. I was excited to spend that time with them even if everything changed in the morning.

What kinds of storylines are you going to be exploring in the second half of season three?

Paige: We’re evolving Callie. She’s created this app and she’s turning into an activist. Something we learned from foster kids after sitting down with them to hear their stories is that so many of them are invested in social justice and they’re all invested in making the system better for the kids behind them. That feels really authentic to the foster kid experience and feels really authentic for Callie. She’s this reluctant champion. In the premiere, there’s a big bomb dropped on the family. Stef’s mom (Annie Potts) comes back to visit and see Brandon’s performance and while she’s there, the bomb drops, and she says she’s not going anywhere. We’re excited to have Jesus (Noah Centineo, who replaced Jake T. Austin) to write for again. Brandon is such a pensive young man and Jude is such an old soul that it’s nice to have somebody who’s a little clueless. We’ve got some great stuff to on the board for Mariana (Cierra Ramirez). Jude is going to have to try and navigate what it means if Connor is going away. What’s next for them, and if Connor goes, where does Jude’s heart go. This next season is a bit of an exploration on the role of technology and the internet in our lives. Every character has a relationship in some way, shape or form to technology.

The Fosters spreads a lot of positive messages about a variety of issues every season. What was the message this season you’re most proud of? What message did you want to get across that may not have been successful?

Paige: This season for us, the big issues were watching Connor (Gavin MacIntosh) and Jude (Hayden Byerly) navigate being young gay people, doing things like the LGBTQ prom. And we got to explore the n-word in the same week the Supreme Court made its ruling on same-sex marriage and the president used the n-word in a speech to talk about race.

Johnson: One of the things that I’m invested in is trying to show the real issues and the real challenges you face when you’re married and you have kids. We could just make Lena (Sherri Saum) and Stef (Teri Polo) a super happy couple that are always happy and in love, but that’s just not real. Marriage is work, and struggle and love, but it doesn’t mean you’re not committed.

BredewegI loved the fact that our families sit down to meals together. That’s something that we all need to get back to, and the family is so in love with each other and cares so much about each other’s lives, and I think that’s something we do really well and that I’m very proud of.

Brandon struck me as a bit egotistical and entitled. He can be misunderstood, but what is it about him that Callie loves so much?

Paige: I don’t experience Brandon as entitled at all.

Johnson: He thought he had gotten into Idyllwild as a pianist and he got in as a composer. He had that backstabbing by Katerina. He struggled, but didn’t quit. He ultimately hung in there and triumphed. And Brandon hasn’t had too many triumphs. Brandon has mostly lost everything. He didn’t get Callie, he got slapped with the shame of that restraining order, his hand was broken —

Paige: He’s lost some of his father this season.

Johnson: He embraced AJ (Tom Williamson) at the end. He’s always been there for Callie and his siblings. I think Brandon gets a bad rap.

Paige: Callie and Brandon just have that thing. You know how you encounter those people in the world who just get you and from the beginning? There is a profound and deep understanding. They compliment each other so beautifully. They have such different life experiences and —

Johnson: From the pilot, when she was running off to get Jude, Brandon went with her and missed his piano competition. He has always supported her. He sees her and gets her. He goes to Mexico blindly.

BredewegAs adults we’re so quick to judge these teenage kids. But I remember when I was a teenage kid I was such a jerk sometimes. We have to allow kids a chance to explore this new adulthood that they’re coming into. He’s starting to find his voice and stand up for himself. We have to allow him this space and go on that journey with him.

New episodes of The Fosters return to ABC Family in 2016. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments section, below.

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