The topic of motherhood in media has been previously studied multiple different ways. This analysis differs from past studies in that it is looking at a family friendly show about lesbian, bi-racial, adopting mothers. The purpose of this analysis is to understand how motherhood is depicted in the popular family television program The Fosters. This analysis looks at how the notion of a traditional motherhood is subverted by this show, but also upheld in several key ways. The method being used for this study is a rhetorical criticism, specifically a narrative criticism with a feminist perspective. The major finding of this analysis is that although there are a few obvious ways in which Steph and Lena subvert traditional motherhood, for the most part their relationship upholds the ideals of traditional motherhood. Steph and Lena subvert traditional motherhood because they are gay, have an abnormal family, and embrace their sexuality. Steph and Lena uphold traditional motherhood through the characters’ dress and personalities. Traditional motherhood is also upheld through the themes of the importance of biological family and the necessity of a father figure in a family.


Boser, Beth

Second Advisor

Atay, Ahmet


Communication Studies


Critical and Cultural Studies | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Speech and Rhetorical Studies


The Fosters, Mother*, Lesbian, Adoption, Heteronormativity, Homosexual, Family

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2016 Katheriner E.S. Gallagher