[Spoiler Alert: Do not read ahead unless you have watched the third season premiere of “The Fosters.”]
That’s the first thing “The Fosters” co-creator/executive producer Peter Paige told me when I asked about last night’s third season premiere.
As you may remember, the second season finale ended with a car crash involving Mariana (Cierra Ramirez), Jesus (Jake T. Austin) and their troubled – and pregnant – mother, Ana (Alexandra Barreto). A ‘reported fatality’ was all we heard so the cliffhanger left us wondering who might be the victim.
Shortly after the finale aired, Austin confirmed via Twitter that he would be leaving the show so it was an easy conclusion to make that Jesus would be the one who would perish in the crash but, if you saw last night’s season premiere, there were injuries, yes, but nobody died.
Was it the right decision for the show? What’s the future of Jesus with Austin having moved on to other projects? Thankfully, I saw Paige this past weekend at the fourth annual ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas and had a chance to ask him about the big decision and how he, exec producer/co-creator Bradley Bredeweg and exec producer Joanna Johnson came to that conclusion. Here’s what he had to say:
Peter Paige: I’m glad to actually have the opportunity to get this out into the world because people will be like ‘what?!’ We just didn’t feel like we could kill one of our kids. We just thought it would ruin the show. We thought it would take over the show and we still thought we had interesting stories to tell on Ana and I just wasn’t going to kill another baby. [Reminder that Lena miscarried earlier in season 2.]
We all talked about every permutation at length. Really. The three of us - me, Bradley and Joanna - but also with the whole writing team, who are all so amazing. We really went, 'if it was this, then it would mean this and this and this and it would mean this and this and this.' Is that interesting? Is that worth it? But every version of that became something that, to us, weighed down the show.
In particular, losing Will on “The Good Wife” [was a] huge loss to the show but it’s a workplace show and you can mourn him for a few episodes and you can re-mourn him later but losing a child, losing a teenager in a family show? There’s no getting out of it. You have to spend a whole season just on loss. Do you want to watch that show? I could just see all the mothers who watch our show saying, ‘I can’t watch a show about a dead kid. I’m scared every time my kids leave the house anyway so I can’t watch this show.’
So it was a difficult decision but the key was there was one 'reported' fatality so it was reported by someone at the scene that they thought Ana was dead but she pulls through. Honestly, we were trying to protect the fans."
So where does that leave the future of Jesus? Paige said, “Jesus is off to boarding school and more will be revealed.”
What did you think of last night’s season premiere? More from my interview with Paige (and another interview with “The Fosters” stars Sherri Saum and Teri Polo) will be posted soon to reveal what’s in store for our other characters as well as Paige’s thoughts on the “Queer as Folk” reunion that he was a part of at the ATX Festival.
“The Fosters” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC Family followed by the new docu-series “Becoming Us.”
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.