The Fosters Shows the Power of Television

July 17, 2017

Last week’s summer premiere of The Fosters on Freeform brought the show a Teen Choice Award nomination and brought fans a cathartic mix of shock, relief, sweetness, and more shock. The new season picks up right where the heart-stopping season finale left off (six weeks ago in real life, if you’re counting), smack in the middle of multiple cliffhangers: Is Callie going to be OK? Did Brandon do more harm than good by helping Emma? Will Gabe be an adult that Jesus can trust after all? What really makes someone a parent?

With each new revelation, viewers shared their concern, dismay and joy during a live tweet with the show’s cast and writers, who were all too happy to join in and push viewers’ buttons. #TheFosters trended on Twitter and the conversation is still going.

Thanks to our partners at the show, @StayTeen and @TheNC tweeted birth control resources and relevant content as scenes unfolded, and @TheFostersTV shared our social posts with their nearly 450,000 followers. Audience response during the show’s live tweets this spring was overwhelmingly positive: over a six week period, @StayTeen saw an average 600-700% increase in engagement each week; and @TheNC saw an average 230-350% increase in engagement over the same period. Traffic to our teen birth control resources spiked accordingly. This is a powerful example of what’s possible when TV shows tell meaningful stories and give viewers information they need in real time, enabling us to deliver our resources in the heat of the moment. In fact, 4 in 10 girls age 13-15 say they’ve learned something about sex, dating or relationships from a TV show’s social media feed.  

These outsize stories are grounded in the reality that children of teen parents are twice as likely to be placed in foster care as are children with older parents. We see how much every young person needs and deserves adults they can trust and turn to; and how important it is to give young women the power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant. We are proud to serve as expert content advisors to the show, and audiences and critics are applauding The Fosters for tackling so many topics head-on without losing an ounce of drama or entertainment.

Catch up on the season five premiere and binge all of season four at or on the Freeform app. Join @StayTeen, @TheNC, and @TheFostersTV every Tuesday night at 8/7 with #TheFosters.

Authored by: Marisa Nightingale

As The National Campaign’s Senior Media Advisor, Marisa Nightingale leads key partnerships with entertainment media executives to help harness the power of popular media to reduce teen and unplanned pregnancy. She and her colleagues provide expertise, information, and hands-on help to media decision-makers whose content is most popular with teens, young adults, and their parents.

Marisa joined the Campaign in 1996, shortly after its founding, and is the architect of its nationally-recognized Entertainment Media program. She served as the program’s Senior Director for 12 years and continues to advise on strategy and cultivate message integration partnerships with outlets including NBC, FOX, ABC, The CW, Hulu, Marie Claire, Family Circle, Essence, Latina and more, with a special emphasis on reaching Latino audiences. Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaigns developed under her direction have won multiple awards and garnered millions of dollars in free placements. She played a leadership role in the conception, development and launch of "Thanks, Birth Control," a social media effort that engages individuals and organizations in a positive public conversation about all that birth control makes possible.

Prior to joining The National Campaign, Marisa was the Communications Director at Share Our Strength (SOS), a leading national voice in the fight against hunger. At SOS, she worked with journalists, chefs, corporate partners, and community organizations to address the causes and consequences of hunger and poverty. Marisa is a guest lecturer at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business and is a seasoned speaker on the role of media in preventing teen and unplanned pregnancy and promoting social change. She has served as a Campaign spokesperson on The Today Show, The View, The Ricki Lake Show, NPR, USA Today, The Washington Post, and elsewhere. Marisa graduated with honors from Yale University and lives in Washington, DC with her husband, two children and a lively mutt.

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