"The Fosters" nears its final episodes as fans reflect on what the series has meant to them. The show premiered in 2013 on Freeform (then ABC Family) and is currently running its fifth season. The story follows the family of an interracial lesbian couple (Sherri Saum, Teri Polo) and their blend of biological (David Lambert), adopted (Cierra Ramirez, Noah Centineo), and fostered children (Maia Mitchell, Hayden Byerly), as they learn to love, grow, and fight for their values.

How many episodes are left?

A 2-hour 100th episode special will air next Tuesday (March 13, 2018) at 8/7c on Freeform.

The special will reflect on the 5 seasons, from Callie and Jude joining the family and leading up to graduation of the two oldest children, and all the in-betweens. You can watch the preview here:

After this 2-hour spring finale, Freeform has ordered a summer event for "The Fosters" before pulling it off the air. The summer event will include 3 episodes to conclude the series. One of the show's co-creators confirmed this on his Twitter.

What makes this show special?

From "Lost" to "Blue’s Clues," TV shows have always impacted people, but for many fans, "The Fosters" meant something more.

After receiving a Glaad Media Award for Outstanding Drama Series in 2014, "The Fosters" became notable for its representation of lesbian moms in a family drama, by depicting them having ordinary issues and lives.

For one 20-year-old fan from Texas, the moms helped soothe worries about coming to terms with her sexuality. “I’m not super comfortable with it yet, but [The Fosters] really helped me start to feel comfortable with myself,” she told Blasting News.

She credits this newfound comfort to the portrayal of the moms. “Its impacted me to actually see a realistic gay couple…I think its made me realize that although there are differences between a gay couple and a straight couple, they’re really not THAT different. They’re normal.”

'The Fosters': Social commentary

Apart from the series' realistic lesbian representations, the show integrates a diverse ensemble of characters and delicately weaves social commentary into the plot.

Two of the Adams-Foster kids are Latinx-American, one of which befriends a Dreamer, whose DACA status has not been renewed. Through this story, "The Fosters" showcases The States’ immigration situation with ICE, deportation, and heartbreak.

For one fan from Washington, the story changed her perspective by making her think of things she’s “never considered before,” and encouraging her to explore new career paths. “I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer and now I’m starting to think that maybe immigration would be a better fit than civil.” In this way, "The Fosters" leaves an impression on its viewers by humanizing situations that they otherwise wouldn't have experienced.

The show also highlights a range of other less-represented situations.

Early on, the youngest son in the family came out as gay. In 2016, a trans man (Elliot Fletcher) joined the cast, becoming one of the only trans male and cis female couples on-screen. A few recurring characters overcome battles with addiction and alcoholism. The middle son struggles with ADHD, and later in the series, a brain injury. Most recently, one of the moms suffers from panic attacks.

This collection of thoughtful story arcs often gives viewers a sense of validation with representations they may not see anywhere else, especially those depictions grounded in reality. As one fan from the UK notes, “I just really appreciate the accuracy. They don't shy away from portraying the reality of it…it's not romanticised at all.

It's just real.”

In many ways, "The Fosters" has brought families together through the family they’ve created on-screen. The show has paved the way for others to follow by telling less-told stories and grounding them in honesty, hardship, and love.