Here’s Why Mariana Adams-Foster Is The Kind Of Representation Latinas And Other People Of Color Deserve
Mariana Adams-Foster is the brilliant and beautiful Latina I wish I grew up watching. Fortunately, Latinas today can binge watch all five seasons of “The Fosters” in the last two weeks. Check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.
While not all of us were adopted by the most incredible non-Latino parents anyone could ask for, we’re all familiar with feeling like we don’t fully belong in a single culture.
Mariana is the fictional Latina-American who has paved her own path and has inspired real Latina-Americans to do the same. Here’s why, in chronological order.
Mariana Adams-Foster is book smart (and street smart).
Freeform’s “The Fosters” is a wake up call to America, bringing forth the common issues that foster children often face. Only half of children raised in foster care actually graduate from high school. Let that sink in. That means if you’re a POC, and your parent is statistically more likely to be incarcerated, Latino youth are at higher risk of being placed in the foster system.
Mariana is one of those foster kids, but she is hell-bent on doing more than just graduating high school. She wins robotics competitions and is President of the STEM club.
Mariana and her twin brother, Jesus, know that familia es todo.
Mariana and Jesus were abandoned by their mother, Ana, when they were just five years old. While Ana wasn’t imprisoned by a judicial system, she was by a drug addiction, which isolated her from her very large Latino family. Ana went on to recover from her drug addiction, and the show brought awareness around alcoholism and addiction as a disease, not a choice.
They were fostered and then adopted by Stef and Lena Adams-Foster, their forever moms. Just watch the show and you’ll see how the bond is so real.
While her moms aren’t Latina, they threw her a quinces to celebrate her heritage.
At this point in her life, Mariana was all about being a princesa and center of attention for her 15th birthday, though she wasn’t familiar with all the traditions of a quinces.
As she learned some of the more hetero-normative traditions, we could all relate feeling insecure about how Latina the world perceives you, especially the community.. She caved to the pressures of the few Latinos around her and decided to dance with a male father figure instead of her moms. Immediately after, she regretted it, and loved extra hard on her moms.
Mariana is sassy af.
She’s not a brooder. She’s not self-oppressive in ANY respect. She lets it all out with no f*cks to give about what someone else is feeling, unlike her hermano, Jesus, who is a grade A codependent child of an alcoholic. #same
At her quinceañera, Mariana found out her best friend, Lexi, was secretly dating Jesus. (I know, they switched actors mid-series after Jake T. Austin quit and we’re all screaming for Noah Centineo). She didn’t let them forget their betrayal for a single second. Note: Lexi is the trash, in case you didn’t catch that.
And she’s a happy drunk.
During a rebellious phase (see the nose piercing), Mariana got super drunk at a party and had to pretend to be sober in front of her moms, who were having a dinner party with Lexi’s very religious (read: Catholic) parents present.
We were all worried that she would develop a substance abuse problem, como su mamá, but thankfully, these were just occasional moments for all our entertainment. 🙂 P.S.-Alcoholism is a family disease, and not just by bloodline. By the end of the series, another sweetie foster kid started to show signs of alcoholism.
6. Mariana is an expert gossip.
She totally outed her brother and best friend’s sex lives in front of both of their parents with one sweeping, “You’re going to let them go to Jesus camp when you know they’re having sex?”
Ok, granted she was drunk. And angry. Pero, still.
The moms were keeping the sex thing a secret from the religious parents and for good reason. Stef helped Lexi get Plan B, and her Latino parents (JUSTINA MACHADO) threatened to send her away. Mariana came through in faking her run-away long enough for them all to learn that Lexi’s family was undocumented.
She shows that sometimes you have to praise your own successes.
When her moms were trying to spare her foster sister’s feelings for having to retake a math class, Mariana decided to heap praise on her own damn self for getting the highest math score in her class.
To be fair, she had no idea that Callie was at risk of having to retake a bunch of classes that didn’t transfer from her last school. Another lesson for us all: for those of us who had stable childhoods, we take simple class credits for granted as a basic right not all kids get.
Eventually, the pressure of STEM and dance get to her, and she starts taking Jesus’ ADHD meds.
Of course, Mariana is the leader of her STEM club because, duh, she slays math. She just casually builds robots as an extracurricular while also in a competitive dance team.
Eventually, she started having traumatic hallucinations, that caused her to think her stalker, Nick, was with her. Jesus tried to come to the rescue but inadvertently told Nick where Mariana was, so he actually broke his parole to see Mariana. When Jesus saw Nick with her, he attacked him and ended up getting a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that took him almost a year to recover from.
She still slayed with an all girls robotics team, though.
Mariana is a natural born leader and activist.
She led a school walk out after their favorite teacher was fired. Oh, and her mom, Lena, is the vice principal who fired him. That made for an awkward dinner conversation that Mariana navigated like a queen. She stood her ground and refused to go to school the next day, launching a class-wide protest.
This is what happens when you mix a Latina daughter with a non-Latina mother. JK-Lena responded by unplugging the WiFi and taking all the kids phones because no fun is allowed when the kids are rebelling. I guess there’s freedom to rebel without the threat of a chancleta.
ICYMI, Mariana has zero problem with authority.
She actually tricked her way into qualifying for a dance competition by competing alongside Kaitlyn, a blonde authoritarian pendeja, and then immediately quit right after their team qualified. Because of a loophole and Mariana’s savvy intellect, she realized that since she qualified, she could quit and start her own team that would automatically qualify for the competition.
If you knew Kaitlyn, you’d understand why this is so epic. When Mariana first made the team, she overheard some teammates saying she only got in because of “quotas.” *eye roll* Mariana actually dyed her hair blonde to fit in, which is a WHOLE other story.
Lena made the two teams do a dance-off and Mariana slayed.
When Mariana sprained her ankle, she didn’t let the five person minimum become an obstacle. She used her genius tech skills to project a fifth person onto the stage by recording all the moves ahead of time using her dancer and friend, Emma. The whole audience was *stunned.*
All of this is after Jesus’ crazy ex-girlfriend betrayed Mariana’s trust and rejoined Kaitlyn’s team, giving away her “dystopian robotic theme.” Literally, Kaitlyn’s team just put on silver lipstick and danced the robot thinking they were embarrassing Mariana’s team. #LatinaExcellence
Girl knows how to glamp.
Mariana has defied so many stereotypes throughout this series. Her BFF and fellow STEM nerd, Emma, was starting to backpedal on her participation in Mariana’s dance team because her fellow wrestling team started to make comments like, “She really is a girl.” Que pesado.
Mariana’s had to teach her own friends that they can be smart and sexy and still demand to be taken seriously. Just like Mariana is a total badass in every area of life and demands a blow up mattress, double comforters and a pink tent.
This is a very small detail about a very big person: but she brought a pink chandelier to the tent.
Her moral compass eventually, always gets recalibrated.
So, yeah, she sold and took her brother’s ADHD drugs after her estranged, drug-addicted mother started begging her for money for rehab (mentira). Side note: her mom, Ana, eventually does get help through Alcoholic’s Anonymous and ends up marrying Mariana’s mom, Stef’s ex-husband and baby daddy. I know, drama.
But then she handled herself at her other brother, Brandon’s, warehouse band performance. She got locked in a storage unit where a girl was overdosing. Mariana called the police and was able to save her life, and then later defend herself to Brandon for doing the right thing. Take that, Brandon!
Speaking of Brandon, she held him rightly accountable for kissing their foster sister, Callie.
I don’t care if you’re Team Brallie or whatever. This line was classic Mariana. There are very strict rules banning any kind of romantic involvement with foster siblings that aim to protect foster kids. Because Brandon kissed Callie, Callie felt like she had to run away so that her little brother could at least be adopted by The Fosters.
Callie ended up back in juvenile detention while Brandon moped and pined around the house about his Romeo & Juliet-eque love. Mariana had her sister’s back.
Never forget the time Mariana thought flirting meant giving her underwear to boys.
Oof, this scene was brutal. Brandon’s ex girlfriend told her that the best way to flirt with her crush was to leave her panties in his pocket. Ese bobo followed Mariana upstairs and essentially demanded that he have sex with her and got angry that she wouldn’t.
The next day at school, she had to deal with the most humiliating bullying imaginable. Boys stuffed their gross underwear in her locker and walked around with hot pink and red panties sticking out of their pockets for weeks. When your mom is VP, and your moms find out, the embarrassment never dies.
Before Mariana owned her Latina power, she struggled, like all of us.
Remember that whole other story we had to tell? Mariana had dyed her hair blonde to fit in better with Kaitlyn’s dance posse, recuerdes? When her crush, Mat took her on a first date to a Mexican street festival, she got hella offended and didn’t even know why. She didn’t feel like she belonged in Mexican culture and didn’t want to be associated with it after being discriminated against at school.
You’ve also probably caught that oppressive feeling that you’re “not Latino enough,” or that it’d be easier if you weren’t at all.
Mariana eventually came to own her Latinidad, and her powers of persuasion.
For her 16th birthday, she barely even had to persuade her (soon-to-be-psycho) boyfriend, Nick, to throw her a huge party in his rich dad’s abandoned warehouse. Someway, somehow, Mariana got herself both a quinces and a “Sweet 16” party. Nick was also besties with Jesus so they turned the downstairs floor into a skatepark for the coolest birthday bash ever.
Oh, and Mariana dyed her hair back to it’s normal black and refused to change herself in any way to fit a mold again.
Including for her role as Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet.”
Even though her ex, Mat, was playing Romeo, she decided that wouldn’t hold her back from auditioning for Juliet. Given that Cierra Ramirez, who plays Mariana, is a crazy talented singer, she was a shoe-in.
Painfully, Nick saw Mariana giving Mat a “goodbye kiss” after he professed his ongoing love for her and Nick came to school with a gun. Yeah, it was crazy. After he wasn’t found at school, he hid out in the Fosters’ house for over 24 hours and threatened to kill himself while holding Mariana hostage. The Fosters is no joke, people.
When Ana gave birth to her half-sister, Mariana was the best sister ever.
It’s not all crazy drama. As Ana got sober, she mad her amends to Mariana and Jesus and they started to develop a relationship. Oh, here’s the drama. Ana and the twins were in a car accident that forced Ana to wear a back brace, limiting her ability to care for newborn baby Isabella.
Mariana is all about family and helped out every day after school, happily. But, low key, she was also avoiding boyfriend-again Mat who was setting off on a tour with his band. Goodbyes are hard okay.
Spoiler: Mariana eventually went on to graduate from MIT.
Only 3 percent of foster kids ever graduate from a 4-year college. Mariana not only graduated from a 4-year college, she got a full ride at mothaf*ckin MIT! Jesus’ TBI gave him some serious learning disabilities but he still made it to San Diego Community College and decided to start a treehouse-building company. I guess when a nail gun to the head takes you down, you get right back up again?
Mariana was offered a tech job in Los Angeles, where it seems Callie, Jude and Brandon will all be headed for, too.
“The Fosters” might be over, but “Good Trouble” is just beginning.
“Good Trouble” will be a spin-off of “The Fosters,” that stars Callie and Mariana’s young adult lives after college in Los Angeles. Callie casually graduated from a 5-year law program which puts both Callie and Mariana in the work force for the first time together. At first, the two planned to accept jobs in San Francisco to be closer to each other, but Callie decided to go to LA, where her brother Jude was struggling with alcoholism at UCLA. Of course, Mariana followed.
We can’t wait!!!