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I Ship It: The Tomorrow People’s John and Astrid-Hope for the Hopeless

Prior to the pizza stare, John and Astrid did not register in my mind as a possible romance. I did want someone better for John than Cara, because she keeps giving him the kicked puppy treatment. She slept with Stephen, made him expose killing Roger to the Tomorrow People and she stole his job. However, her worse crime was continuously making him feel like an outsider to his own people. Cara keeps putting knives further in his wounds; John would never do this to her. Therefore, I’m firmly against them continuing a romance. They’re forcing it, and it’s time to move on.

Astrid is an outsider to the Tomorrow People world. Before Stephen broke out, she had no ties to them. This makes Astrid the only truly human character on the show. She has a hope and innocence not common to their world. Astrid is necessary to the current characters’ growth, mainly John.

Astrid and John

The Astrid-John pairing’s biggest appeal is what it represents for each character. We saw a glimpse of this in last week’s “Sitting Duck” episode.  When Astrid disclosed her bucket list items to John, and he had no list, a thousand hearts broke from sadness. But for me, I saw it as a clear contrasting of the characters. John has basically been in pain all his life. He lacked true happiness, even with Cara. I believe he felt so guilty about Roger that he never really allowed himself happiness with her.  Over and over again the show says that John shuts people out. But what do we see him doing at the end of episode 13? He lets Stephen into one of his memories. I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think this is the first time John allows someone easily into his mind. This could be a result of Astrid being in his orbit (pun intended), or it could be because he almost died, either way John has changed. And I believe Astrid will guide this change.

On the other end of the spectrum, Astrid has transformed. She’s no longer completely untarnished by this world. In the bucket list scene, John blames Stephen for Astrid’s life being in danger.  Then she defends him because of blindly loving him. But the episode ends with Astrid blaming Stephen for endangering her life. Their relationship (whether friends or romance) brings hope for John, which he desperately needs. I am sure they’ll continue to bond and have an open relationship. I can see John leaning on Astrid because she doesn’t know about his past, nor would she judge him for it. Astrid will grow stronger for their relationship. She’ll see the darkness John has endured and their struggle to survive.

My only fear with this pair (besides the huge no-no age difference) is that the writers are planning to erase Astrid’s memory for her protection. Therefore, the character development between them will be erased. It’ll be an “I Will Remember You” Angel and Buffy moment all over again. And my heart will die a thousand times.  For now, I’ll eagerly await the next episodes to see how the John and Astrid relationship grows. So I ship it (cautiously).

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Opinion Piece: The Need for More Fat Heroines

Recently, a couple articles surfaced about how plus-size figures influence young women. After the “fat Barbie” article, the internet started spitting venom about this being a terrible idea. Most people argued that Barbie is a figure to be idolized, and by creating a fat version, it encourages girls to be fat. Barbie or no Barbie, fat girls and boys exist. It’s time the media gives these people a voice.

The main reason the media, specifically television programs, need more fat heroines is because girls and women need to be deprogrammed about their bodies defining them. Movies, books and television shows encourage these ideologies by their lack of body diversity. The 2013/2014 television season took a major step towards diversifying the racial images on TV. Most major shows picked up for full seasons contained at least one lead character that was a minority. This change deserves praise and admiration, but it’s not enough. Of all the shows on American television right now, I can count a handful with plus-sized main characters. We need more of them.

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From my understanding of the television world, several reasons prohibit shows from banking on a plus-size lead. The first is lack of appeal. The studio heads don’t believe many people will tune into a big girl falling in love, dealing with life or just being normal. We’ve seen endless amounts of reality shows that cast pretty people over interesting ones. Many shows even lack characters who wear more than a size 2-dress. But shows with plus-size leads have proven very successful in the past.  Ugly Betty aired for four seasons.  America Ferrera did slim down through the course of the series but the show’s premise was an “ugly” girl trying to make it in the fashion world. Right now Lifetime’s Drop Dead Divas is preparing to air its sixth season. Then we’ve seen how Melissa McCartney has become an America sweetheart due to Mike & Molly.  But the success of these shows seems more like the exception rather than the normal for producers.

In 2010, ABCFamily attempted to create a show surrounding plus-size teens. The show entitled Huge didn’t last a full season. There were many problems with this series, but it doesn’t represent the appeal of a show following a plus size teen. The UK show My Mad Fat Diary has huge cult following that includes American viewers. It’s becoming one of the few teen shows to unite people of all cultures.  It seems that plus-size characters do not discourage viewers, it’s badly written storylines and terrible marketing that do.

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A second factor that stops producers from creating more plus-size friendly programming is they feel it’ll be too controversial, or it will encourage teen girls to be fat. This argument is crap. Not only has television become more racially diverse, it’s been more sexually diverse. Almost every show has (or will have) a gay character. Now even more shows are adding transgender characters. Many religious extremist argue this encourages homosexuality. Yet people still add these characters. Why? Because they represent real people who need their voices heard and seen in the media to incite change.  Then what makes being fat so taboo for the television industry?  A fat girl on television doesn’t cause people to be fat, just like seeing a gay person on TV doesn’t make someone gay. I personally believe people are born gay. It is beyond their control. People aren’t born fat, but they shouldn’t be shamed and disregarded for it either.

By showing more variety, it helps women and girls build confidence, because they see bodies similar to their own. If anything, this can be an opportunity to educate. Too often, things are written about plus-sized women or girls that rely heavily on stereotypes. We need more shows not afraid to show society’s cruelty towards them.  We need shows that humanize plus-size individuals. Many TV programs have these characters just as someone to abuse for comedic purposes. This needs to stop. A plus-size or fat person is not synonymous with a clown.

ugly Betty

Isn’t it time for America to include more plus-size women and men on television?  Why not develop a show that doesn’t ostracize them, but one that shows their struggles? One that doesn’t feel the need to constantly say, “You’re fat, so you’re worthless.” Why must all the shows with fat reality characters be about their weight loss?  We as a nation don’t just need plus-size Disney princesses or Barbies, but plus-size romantic leads, political figures, superheroes, best friends, etc. We just need more plus-size humans on television shows, films,  and in books.

Book Review: Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas- AntiThesis

Rats Saw God, by Rob Thomas, captures the timeless struggle of adolescence. Unlike similar modern novels, this one creates 3D teen characters. None of them feel like caricatures of teenage behavior and attitudes. Their raw and realness matches those of your friends, family and neighbors. Rats Saw God’s authenticity transcends age limits.

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Steve York’s senior year consists of smoking pot and barely passing classes. To graduate, he must write a 100-page essay.  His essay letters unfolds the funny and heartbreaking adventures of his former group G.O.D (Grace Order of Dadaists), and his relationship with former girlfriend Dub. Steve’s essayistic journey reawakens the part of himself that enjoys life.  And he begins to live again. Overall, Rats Saw God is one of the best young-adult novels out there. It effortlessly portrays many of the struggles of growing up, but it keeps the balance between being  funny and tragic.

The only negative element of Rats Saw God is its predictability. The biggest turn of events in the novel can be predicted even by the most distracted readers. However, this flaw doesn’t detract from the many glaring assets of Rats Saw God.

The theme of fantasy vs. reality expresses an important truth about teenagers. As extremist, teens often see the world as a polarizing place. It’s either a complete hellhole or heaven on earth.

Steve experiences both degrees of these extremes. In his life in Houston, Texas, he’s naïve and hopeful. The world offers him so much. So when he discovers life is not perfect, he crumbles. The too pessimistic California version of Steve shuts everyone out. He views the world as too painful and people as too damaging to care for. It’s only through looking at his old life does he realize the negative effects of this attitude.

In the book, the reveal of Kurt Cobain’s death also impacts this theme. As a worshipped figure by teens, they idolize his life and him. Nevertheless, Cobain committed suicide, which by definition implies he was unhappy with certain parts of his life. The fantasies teens have about Cobain’s life most likely did not match his reality.

Apathy is another important subject of Rats Saw God.  Leader of G.O.D, Doug, feels indifferent towards the high school experience. Only because of a bet with his father does he create G.O.D. However, the group forces him and the other members to care about each other, high school and G.O.D.

Steve’s mirroring his father’s apathetic behavior also establishes this important theme. Steve judges his astronaut father for lack of real emotions, for never being the man Steve felt he should be. But when Steve’s sister, Sarah, accuses him of doing the same thing, Steve’s reflects on his father and himself. He realizes that the man he spent years hating is the same man he’s becoming. He must change.

Young Adult novels have been a favorite of mine all my life. However, the last couple of years, I find myself struggling to enjoy them. As a teen, I could relate to these characters more: they were me. But as an adult, many of these books don’t translate well to my new life perspective. Also, unfortunately, being an English major in college has made me a slight book snob. If a novel doesn’t inspire or challenge me, I do not connect with it.

Nevertheless, Rats Saw God is one of those rare novels that made me reflect on my teen days. There have only been a couple other YA novels that I’ve read recently to do this. Rats Saw God has been the most successful of these novels. Not necessarily for being a flawless literary work, but for feeling honest in its depiction of youth. The lens on Steve shows him as someone just as screwed up as the other characters in the novel.

Another of the many things I enjoyed about Rats Saw God was showing how self-centered most teens can be, but without necessarily making that a bad thing. It’s more of a fact that shapes their perception of the world. Steve took awhile to look pass what Dub did to him, and look at what he did to Dub, and what Dub’s issues were that led to their breakup.

Thomas did a respectable job by not making Dub the monster. This is a problem too many male novelist face. They create an unbelievable female lead or an unforgivable one. Dub felt just as human as Steve, if not more.

Rats Saw God captures the struggle of being too young to realize pain often defines our lives. While also being too young to realize pain’s temporary status. Rats Saw God  deserves ranking in the canon of great Young Adult novels. It needs more recognition for its quiet brilliance. 7.7/10

Pop Culture Pains: The Love Triangle

Pop Culture pains are the things in television shows, movies or books that make me want to pull my hair out. 

You find yourself invested in a television show or a movie. You’re loving all the characters. Then you see two characters who seem so perfect together. But wait…someone else enters the picture. Then you scream with horrible. No, no, no. It’s a love triangle.

The Vampire Diaries

I hate television show love triangles. I hate movie love triangles even more.  The ones in movies are huge disappointments. They usually end in one side of the triangle revealing themselves to be a horrible person.  Therefore, wasting viewers’ time, because they take the easy escape route in the end. The ones on shows just cause unnecessary drama. But the main reason I hate love triangles in television shows and movies are love triangles are so unrealistic.  How many people do you really know in a love triangle? And if this person is in a love triangle, how much does that make you dislike them? It makes them seem really slimy, because what kind of person keeps people strung along while they figure things out. It’s the ultimate sign of a selfish person.

So how are we supposed to like characters too fickle to decide who they want to be with? I think most people aren’t torn between two people. Their relationship problems are more internal. Their insecure about themselves and/or their partner. They argue too much.  Their kids are killing the romance. Very rarely is a relationship broken up because someone is conflicted about who they love. So why should we accept this in our television shows and movies? I would much rather see relationships have conflict because there are so many internal things hurting their romance. Take the other people out of it.  They just cause fangirls to argue over who’s hotter.

If television show and movie writers really want to show the problems of relationships, especially young ones, focus on what happens when people who are not completely aware of themselves start dating. Show people who really only love each other, but their past keeps making them do damaging things to their romance. How about even showing someone be unfaithful, and then that person try to repair the pain of that.

I have never watched a show and said “I’m glad there is a love triangle. I love, love triangles!” I have watched a movie with a complicated relationship and admired the depiction of all the stress and pain that comes with love.  So dear pop culture, please stop the love triangles. I don’t care how many people want to rock those stupid team whatever t-shirts.  I rather see complex stories about love that don’t involve someone else coming in the picture.  Love stories are more interesting when they’re realistic. Love triangles are not realistic.

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Music Monday: Beneath Your Beautiful by Labrinth feat. Emeli Sandé

The first time I heard Beneath Your Beautiful by Labrinth feat. Emeli Sande, it was a cover version. I tend to prefer covers of songs because they’re more stripped down and organic. However, when I searched on youtube for the original, I was pleasantly surprised.

Everything about Beneath Your Beautiful works. The vocals are mesmerizing,  Labrinth’s voice blends so effortlessly with Emeli’s voice. Their voices are almost made for one another.  Next the technicality of the video makes it a spot on tribute to the song.  I love the idea of someone being projected on a screen, like a movie star, while another sings to them. It totally captures the idea of someone being beautiful, but unable to see it. In your eyes, they’re a star. In their eyes, they’re a mere mortal.

Beneath Your Beautiful is pure, musical heaven. This is what songs and videos should be.

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Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus (Covered by James Arthur)

After hearing Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus, I immediately loved it. I’ll admit that the main reason I listened to the song was because of the controversy surrounding it and the video. However,  the controversy does not overshadow the beauty of the song. Yes, it’s beautiful in a simple, pop way. But for a pop song, it’s very well done.

I kept my love for the song a secret. Well, because I didn’t feel justified in loving it. That is until I heard the cover by James Arthur. I have been a James Arthur fan, basically from the beginning. I loathe the American version of X Factor but I love the UK version of it. I know they’re basically the same thing, but the UK one just works better for me. The same applies for The Voice. I love the American version of The Voice, but something about the UK version just doesn’t work as well as it does here.

I watched James Arthur become the champ of X Factor last year, and I have been following his career since. When he posted a link to this cover on Twitter, I finally felt like someone interrupted Miley’s beautiful song correctly. It’s not my favorite James Arthur cover, but it’s raw emotions give the lyrics a life that Cyrus never did.

Listen to James Arthur’s Wrecking Ball cover below. Better than the original? I think so.

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Music Monday: A Lover I Don’t Have To Love by Bright Eyes

Often, a part of a lyric will intoxicate our minds. Then the fever sets in, and our obsession grows. We must hear this song. Only then will our fever cease. That is how I feel about ‘A Lover I Don’t Have to Love’ by Bright Eyes today. It’s one of those songs where the lyrics are part tragic and part beautiful.  It’s not quite a pop song, but not entirely rock. Some happy medium. The lyrics, to me, represent the consequences of addiction. I see the song as telling a story about using addiction, whether substance or sex, to mask real emotions.  It’s such a beautiful and haunting song. So this Music Monday is dedicated to the mesmerizing and tragic, ‘Lover I Don’t Have to Love.’

Pop Theory: One Direction’s ‘Best Song Ever’–An Ode to Fan Fiction?

Whatever your feelings are towards pop songs, you must admit that they are catchy.  But could there be more to the intoxicating melodies? Could “Hit Me Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears be a reinterpretation of Romeo and Juliet? Is “Mmmbop” by Hanson criticizing society’s obsession with consumerism? Probably not, but for Pop Theory, we’ll examine some of the possible meanings  from today’s biggest pop songs. Is there something deeper beyond their repetition, simple lyrics and great beats? Who knows, but we hope so. Otherwise, how else will we justify our irrational love for them?

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For this Pop Theory, let’s find some meaning behind the song ‘Best Song Ever’ by One Direction.

Check out the song and lyrics below.

This song has infected my brain so much that I often wonder ‘but what does it all mean?’ And one day, after listening to the song for an obscene amount of times, I figured it out. ‘Best Song Ever’ is about fangirl culture, especially in terms of fan fiction. Fan fictions are major components of the 1D fandom. If you search “One Direction” on popular fan fiction sites like fanfiction.net, you’ll see thousands of  stories related to the band.  Besides that, several times on Twitter, One Direction fan fiction related topics have trended worldwide.

Not only is One Direction fan fiction a major part of their fans’ identity, but fan fiction is become  part of the pop culture mainstream. Several best-selling authors originated as fan fiction ones. Additionally, major publishing companies now stroll fan fiction sites looking for the next big thing. One 1D fan got offered her own book deal because of her work. Therefore, it’s not a completely crazy concept to think the boys understand how important fan fiction is to their fans, and play on that knowledge with ‘Best Song Ever.’

Here are a couple ways that I believe help prove that the song is an ode to fan fiction

#1. The Title

‘More Than This, ‘Not Your Typical Love Story,’ ‘Moments’ and ‘One Special Day.’ What do all these titles have in common? They are all titles of 1D fan fiction, but they also lack creativity.  Uncreative titles are common in general literature, but even more so in fiction created by fans. A popular lazy method by writers is to use songs as their stories’ titles.  Usually songs they consider the best ones ever. You get where I’m going here?

Not only is ‘Best Song Ever’ one of the simplest song titles I’ve heard, but it also could be a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek nod towards fan fiction authors using music titles to name their work. Additionally, the stereotype of young girl is that they say things that are over-exaggerations, like saying a song is the best one ever. Stereotypes that fan fiction authors often capitalize on.

#2. Lyrics

The storyline of the song is that some girl sneaks into a club (maybe a concert). Then she just happens to meet one of the band members, and they instantly fall in love. It’s all very magical and romantic. It is also the plot to many fan fictions involving bands. Not only that, it’s every girls fantasy when she’s crushing on a band, musical artist or even the occasional heterosexual broadway musical dude.  With a song titled ‘Best Song Ever,’ the plot of the song could be anything. However, they cleverly chose to make it the same tone as fan fiction, which seems highly deliberate, even if they’ve had other songs with similar themes.

#3. The Video

From my knowledge, there are basically two types of popular fan fiction. The most common one uses real life people, or already established characters, and puts them in an alternative universe. The second type creates their own characters but they list different actors that they would play these characters. This helps readers and fans visualize this world.

For the ‘Best Song Ever’ video, the guys pretend to be these wacky characters. Not unlike the type that would appear in fan fiction. The whole reason the boys meet their alternate universe selves is because they’re creating a movie.  The video is partially a cross promotion of their new song and their documentary, ‘This Is Us.’ However, the concept of the video, creating a fantasy world and characters, also nicely ties in with the idea that the song is  an ode to fan fiction.  The video, upon initial viewing, seems out of place with the song. Nevertheless, if you view the song as being part of the boys discussion about fan fiction, then the video works effortlessly. It’s through imagery  that the boys show how their fans create these weird, fantasy versions of them for their art.

The ‘Best Song Ever’ could be One Direction’s way of playing with the idea of their fans writing fan fiction about them. Or it could be a meaningless pop song, made to sell million of copies to teen girls who are obsessed with them. Chose your poison.

Watch the music video below, and then give your opinion on what the ‘Best Song Ever’ is really about.

Character Profiling: Aimee Finicky

Disclaimer:  This character profiling focuses on the movie version of The Spectacular Now’s Aimee Finicky. Though I plan to read the book, this discuss dives into the movie’s depiction of this character.  This post may contain spoilers. 

What is Character Profiling?

Every week, I will  profile some character in pop culture (either through films, books or TV shows) that deserves some further exploration for their dynamic nature. I shall also explain why this character breaks pop culture modes, creates their own archetype or works within their genre to change it.  Basically this is a weekly look at some of my favorite characters, and why I like them.

This week’s character is The Spectacular Now‘s Aimee Finicky. 

Aimee Finicky ( Shailene Woodley)from The Spectacular Now  demonstrates how socially awkward teenage girl need to be portrayed by the media.  Movies and television shows often characterize these types of girls as eccentric, pixie-like hipsters.  The clearest example of this is Jessica Day ( Zooey Deschanel) from The New Girl. 

Aimee represents the geek girl in their truest form: a bit awkward but still firmly aware of reality and social norms.  Unlike commonly shown, this character does not repeatedly tell viewers she’s ‘quirky’ just to signify the difference between her and other girls. Instead,  her unique nature subtly comes across through her love of comics, lack of romantic history and her consistent use of the word ‘awesome.’ Her lack of social ineptness pairs realistically with her other traits of passivity, low self-esteem and a need for social acceptance.

Another profound thing about the character of Aimee Finicky is that  other girls are not characterized negatively to make her seem exceptional. Aimee  does not war against other females, especially the popular or bitchy ones, because there is no threat to identities.  The Spectacular Now depicts the popular girl (Brie Larson‘s Cassidy) in a way that is almost as intriguing and outstanding as its portrayal of Aimee.  Both characters can co-exist in this world without backstabbing, degrading or fighting each other to prove their superiority. They may not be friends, but they are also not enemies.

Like most humans, Aimee has admirable traits and loathsome ones. Some of her good traits include general likability and a caring nature. Her negative  ones include being a pushover and revolving her life around a guy.  In the scene after the almost accident, where Sutter yell at her, Aimee causes viewer to cringe. After he nearly kills her, she weakly stands by crying and apologizes to him.  You want Aimee to scold  him, say a few sassy comments, even leave him, but you know that is not her character. And any other characteristic at this moment is not true to her nature.

She does go through a transformation, but it’s not the simple put on makeup and a tight dress one.   It’s both to her interior and exterior. Her relationship with Sutter gives her confidence but it does not magically cure every issue. Aimee isn’t the perfect girl who knows what to say and when.  She doesn’t just magically become that girl because she’s in love.  Like many, her process of self-discovery isn’t pretty or rapid. It’s slow and ugly.

Awkward teen girls have and always will be a part of the American movie and television culture. Nevertheless, writers often fail to truly understand these girls and how they should be portrayed. However,  writers, filmmakers and actresses should take notes on Shailene Woodley’s Aimee.  Aimee works not because she’s this flawless character, but because her failures are real and raw. She should become the new  archetype for these type of characters. Only then will they get it right.

The Fosters Season 1 Episode 1-10 Re-watch Wrap-Up: 10 Things We Want To See Happen

To conclude The Fosters re-watch, let’s examine some storylines we want to see in the next  half of season 1.  So here are ten things we want to happen on The Fosters season 1 part 2.

JAKE T. AUSTIN, HAYDEN BYERLY, TERI POLO, CIERRA RAMIREZ, DAVID LAMBERT, SHERRI SAUM

1.  Brandon’s Growth

Brandon lacks a major ongoing storyline, not involving his feelings for Callie.  As The Fosters approaches its second half of season 1, Brandon needs his own personal development one separate from Callie.   As proposed earlier,  a good growth storyline for Brandon is one where he gets a new relationship that allows him to learn to love selflessly.   A trait that will help him later on if the show explores a relationship between Callie and him in the series.

2. Mike and Brandon Bonding

Despite their rocky relationship, we want to see Brandon bonding more with Mike, even Brandon living with Mike while he sorts out his feelings for Callie.

3. Mike’s Backstory

For an important character in the series, we know very little about Mike. We don’t even know if Foster is his last name. If it is, is that how Stef and him met? They shared a last name so they were always being paired? Has Mike’s drinking problem always been something that has affected his life? There are so many things we want to learn about Mike. Hopefully, in the next half of season 1 we start learning them.

4.  New Friends for Callie

Callie’s journey through her friendship with Wyatt, Mariana and Brandon has been nice to watch, but she needs more friends.   And not an unrealistic, convenient friendship between her and Talya.  Callie needs to expand her social life outside the Fosters’ home.

5. Wyatt Staying on the Show

Wyatt is moving to Indiana, but why not keeping him around? Maybe he realizes Callie needs him  as a friend, so he decides to finish school at Anchor Beach.  He could easily suddenly have a relative who lives there and takes him in while he attends school. Callie and Wyatt’s friendship  deserves more development. Also, there must be a scene with a funny and explosive interaction between him and Talya, especially considering their history.

6. Brandon & Callie Road Trip Adventures

After Brandon trucks on down to Indiana to drag Callie back, they go on a road trip home. Of course this trip is filled with temptation as they share hotel rooms and drive solo across country. It would give the pair  legendary romantic moments.  It may also satisfy Brallie lovers for awhile, because once they get home, their longing  goes on hold to protect Jude and Callie’s future. But while their on the road, anything can happen, and will only fuel the emotional turmoil when they return home.

7.  Lexi Stays in Honduras

Lexi and Jesus can grow more apart than together. With Lexi being stuck in Honduras, Jesus moves on . However, a twist on the season finale is that Jesus has just accepted a new love in his life and right after their kiss, Lexi shows up on his doorstep saying she’s home for good now.  Love triangles aren’t the most compelling storylines but if done right, they could be a real source of conflict.

8.  Steff Bonding with her father

There has to be something that can show Stef’s father the error of his ways, and give them another chance to bond.

9. Lena getting a school storyline

Lack of public school funding plagues many schools,and with Lena cheating to ensure Jude placement in the school, there has to be a major storyline involving the possible closing of Anchor Beach. Switched at Birth did a great similar storyline, so ABCFamily has the capacity to tackle this issue in a real, interesting way.

10. A New Love Interest for Mariana

Mariana dating a popular guy has the potential to give the show a real high school feel. It would show the consequences and rewards of being popular in school. The guy could seem shallow, but shows deeper layers later.  Fitting in is an important character flaw of Mariana’s personality, so this storyline could  further show growth, especially if she has to pick  between popularity and her family (example Callie is a target of the popular group).

Wherever The Foster goes for the second half of the season, we’re excited to take the ride with them. But any of these storylines would make us even happier to be along for the ride.