Remember those phone conversation scenes in The L Word when the characters gossiped to and fro between boxes, a peppy Betty song (probably) playing in the background? That’s how I imagined the lesbian phone tree after last week’s episode of The Fosters when Rosie O’Donnell made her grand guest-role debut. I must offer a moment of deep silence, applause or whatever you deem appropriate for celebrating how much gayer the big gay family show we love just got. Creators Peter Paige and Bradley Bredeweg are on a roll—and they aren’t stopping. Now we get to learn even more about the group of misfits at Girls United. Yesterday it was announced a spin-off web series is in the cards—The Fosters: Girls United.
The web series will run five episodes, each three-to-five-minutes long, starting on Monday, Feb. 3 after a new episode of The Fosters. After one of the girls at the group home goes missing, everyone has their own ideas about what really happened. Do I smell a mystery? There’s no news yet on whether O’Donnell’s character Rita Hendricks, the foster care worker who helps run Girls United, will be integrated into the plot. However, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that the web-series will feature Callie (Maia Mitchell), and other Girls United characters Daphne (Daffany Clark), Kiara (Cherinda Kincherlow), Becca (Annamarie Kenoyer), Carmen (Alicia Sixtos), Gabi (Hayley Kiyoko) and Michelle (Angela Gibbs).
Does this mean that my favorite Girls United member, Cole (Tom Phelan), will not be making a cameo? Is Cole the character that will allegedly disappear from the home? Was he finally transferred to an LGBT home? Getting a deeper look at Callie’s time in Girls United will be a slice deeper into the thickets of The Fosters. If you watched last night’s episode, you’re caught up to speed on why Callie is there, who some of the Girls United members are, and suddenly their motives and intentions are coming to light more and more. Cole kind of has Callie’s back, only he did put a wedge between her and Brandon. And Daphne only wants to even the score and make Callie her ally, for now.
To sum up how Callie ended up at Girls United, she stuffed her face full of Twinkies and Ho-Hos in a convenience store, was sent back to juvie, and Lena and Stef aren’t ready to have her back home. Hell, let her stay at Girls United as long as she needs! Back home, Brandon has the stage-five hots for Callie. He shows up unannounced. Maybe it’s the lez in me, but I’d tell Callie to stick with longhaired bad boy Wyatt before she goes back to kissy-ville with her foster brother.
The role of Rita is perhaps not so unfamiliar to O’Donnell, as she was a foster and is an adoptive parent. Rita calls herself a “referee” under the Girls United roof. But, Rita might as well be a future version of Gully, O’Donnell’s role in Harriet the Spy. Am I right? Sure, she left Harriet, but her job with looking after girls who need her help was far from over. She doesn’t want to see any kid fail in this program, and she’s completely PC, so no name-calling, unwanted gender pronouns, or, you know, make-out sessions in the front lawn with Brandon, will pass with her.
Girls United is set up in an adorable bungalow (though to clarify my taste-preferences, my friends have informed me it’s actually quite scary-looking). Behind that front door is a woman named Rosie O’Donnell, also known as Rita, (also known as Gully). And she wants to shape you up, make you think twice about your decisions, and well, be a mentor and a step-in parent.
Can we really ever ask for anything more?
I’m suddenly digging this heightened amount of attention, be it comedic or otherwise, given to women in dark places brought to light through television. The Girls United group has a haven—a place where there are no locked doors and the bedrooms do not appear to be stark white with metal twin beds like our perception of group homes might make us expect. Somewhere inside the spectrum of everything from Girl, Interrupted to Orange Is the New Black, the depiction of Girls United, a group home for teens on the verge of being too old for the foster care system, puts an important spotlight on the parts of the foster care system that pay attention to this completely special age group. Growing up, figuring out where you fit in, if you can stay out of trouble, and how exactly you’ll make your entrance into society—the heart that ticks inside the main character in The Fosters.
In some ways, Callie has joined an army, her civilian life still shadowed by this knowing that she’s forever a foster kid, even if she’s closer to adulthood than she realizes. But then there’s Girls United, and nothing is more loving than good, tough love from the queerest of them all, Rosie O’Donnell.
Can’t wait to watch The Fosters: Girls United? Me either! Follow my updates @the_hoff #girlsunited. Tune in online Monday, February 3 at 10 p.m. E/T.