The Fosters’ Sherri Saum on Stef and Lena’s Biggest Fight Yet

The Fosters Sherri Saum
Freeform/Tony Rivetti

There may be no stronger or more realistic couple on television today than Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum) on The Fosters. Together these two face the everyday challenges of raising children while also nurturing a marriage. This season they may be staring at a battle with their biggest opponent yet, as Stef recently received a diagnosis in last week’s premiere telling her that she has cancer. Will the couple be able to bond together as we’ve seen them do so often and defeat this? That remains to be seen, but that’s not all. They’ve also got their five children to deal with and everyday concerns such as money troubles that seem to be looming on the horizon.

In order to get a better look at what’s to come for the couple as they battle cancer, The TV Junkies spoke exclusively with Saum. She previewed how the family will rally around Stef, and why it may not be so good that Stef’s mother Sharon (Annie Potts) may be sticking around awhile a longer.

The TV Junkies: Stef’s health issues looks like it’s going to be one of the biggest challenges that Lena and Stef will face as a couple. So first off just please tell me Stef will be OK.

Sherri Saum: Well it’s not really clear. With a situation like hers there’s always a chance that things could go wrong, but I think for now things are going to be contained and we’re going to get through it. It’s a really scary thing. It’s not like a broken arm where you go ‘OK, let’s get a little splint and fix this and it’ll be all good.’ It’s a scary thing. Jesus (Noah Centineo) is back from school now, and I think it’s good that we circle the wagons. She’s never needed us more.

TTVJ: Stef internalizes a lot of her problems and it’s also hard to be the person supporting the sick person. How is Lena going to deal with Stef’s diagnosis and having to be there for her?
SS: Taking care of Stef is second nature for Lena and she’d go at it wholeheartedly. It’s just that there’s a little snag in the whole picture which is her mother-in-law that’s come into play during this whole thing. Obviously her mom thinks she knows what’s best for Stef, and Lena thinks she knows what’s best for Stef so that’s going to cause a lot of friction. That’s going to be a little bit of challenge to keep things stress-free in the house.

TTVJ: So we can expect to see Annie Potts [Sharon] sticking around for a couple episodes?
SS: Yes she is and I couldn’t be happier about that. She is amazing.

TTVJ: Monte (Annika Marks) is still going to be around working with Lena, and says she won’t be causing any more trouble for Stef and Lena’s relationship. Can we really trust her?
SS: That’s a tough one. I feel like Monte obviously stated her feelings very clearly that she was in love with Lena. I think if Stef wasn’t a factor that Monte would definitely see a future there. She’s also a professional and she’s a very thoughtful, lovely woman and doesn’t want to cause problems. It’s just going to be tough to work with someone everyday–someone you have strong feelings for–and pretend they aren’t there.

TTVJ: There was a lot of talk about financial issues surrounding the family in the premiere. Are money troubles something the family is going to have to deal with this year?
SS: Absolutely, and I’m really proud of the show for not skating over those issues. That’s reality. I think it would ring false if it were ‘here we are in this beautiful house and we have all these kids,’ and we never talk about bills or money or lack thereof. It’s something everyone can relate to. So I’m glad they make that a reality and we definitely will be dealing with that. There are bills to be paid in that household!

TTVJ: Callie (Maia Mitchell) seems to be going strong with her Fost & Found app, despite the fact it rubs some people the wrong way. Will she be getting into any trouble with that?
SS: Let’s just say the Fost & Found app that she’s designed is such an amazing thing on one hand and we’re really proud of her. It hopefully will help a lot of people and maybe even actually help people in real life by bringing awareness to this issue. For the character though, it’s going to be a double-edged sword that could open up some doors that could definitely cause some problems.

TTVJ: Is there anything else you’d like to preview for the upcoming season or something in particular we should watch out for?
SS: Jude (Hayden Byerly) and his journey continues with his first love Connor (Gavin MacIntosh) and that whole situation. What’s going to happen? Is Connor going to come back? It’s a really tough thing for any kid to be going through, but it’s kind of beautiful to see his journey through it all.

Are you worried about Stef? Do you trust Monte to not cause trouble? Weigh in with your feelings in the comments below!

The Fosters airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on Freeform and ABC Spark.