‘The Fosters’ Showrunner Teases What’s Ahead for Big Romances

“I feel like people have a hard time letting go of stuff in the context of relationships,” executive producer Peter Paige tells TheWrap

The Adams-Foster family will have a lot going on when “The Fosters” returns to Freeform Monday night.

Several of the show’s central relationships were thrown into question in the August midseason finale, with Connor moving away from Jude — and the two sharing a much-talked-about kiss, the youngest in TV history between two men — and Callie’s official adoption.

But according to executive producer Peter Paige, that doesn’t really mean what’s done is done. Because much like in real life, things aren’t that simple on “The Fosters.”

Paige spoke to TheWrap what’s coming in the second half of Season 3, discussed the show’s recent Season 4 renewal, and talked about recasting Jesus after the departure of Jake T. Austin.

Do you already have an idea of where the show will be going next season?
We definitely have some arenas we’re excited about and interested in, but we never really know. We tend to write ourselves into corners and then just try to solve them later.

With so many characters, do you ever struggle to give them all their due time?
Absolutely we do. But one of the things that we think is important — and this partially comes from my experience working as an actor on an ensemble show [“Queer as Folk”] — even if a character doesn’t have a story in that episode, we like to make sure that they have a great moment, or a great line, something to hold on to. Something that feels like it has integrity to what they have going on over the course of the season. You can’t service every character in every episode. You just can’t do it. But you can come pretty close. And you can certainly get everyone engaged and give them great interesting human moments along the way.

Noah Centineo joined the show this season as the new Jesus. How has that transition been?
Noah is amazing. He’s so charming and funny and smart and sexy. He’s such a great addition to the show. It really feels like Jesus 2.0. It honors everything that Jesus went through in the earlier seasons, but he’s just grown up a bit and is starting to become a young man. I’m thrilled for the audience to see him, and I just love what he’s added to the world. Plus, it’s just great to be able to write for Jesus again. There’s a bro quality to him that we missed when he wasn’t around.

Stef and Lena seem to have put a lot of their problems behind them last season, but are they really in the clear?
They’re in the clear in the way any of us are ever in the clear. That’s not the big driver this season, and for the most part they’ve put Monte behind them. But like in any relationship, when it’s useful or most inconvenient, things like that have a way of showing up again … I feel like people have a hard time letting go of stuff in the context of relationships.

Since the Freeform audience is relatively young, do you ever get the sense that they have a hard time connecting with the adult characters and their storylines?
Our audience is incredibly invested in Stef and Lena. They really get it, and I think they find it aspirational. I think they see it as a model of a relationship that looks healthy … I think that they get a window into their own parents that they find really useful. Stef and Lena are parents that a lot of us wish we had. I don’t get a sense from anyone that the kids aren’t responding to or excited by Stef and Lena’s journey. In fact, when we give them hardships we get a lot of shit for it. A lot.

Now that Callie’s adopted, is this really the end for her and Brandon?
It should be. It’s supposed to be. But what we’re trying to do this season is honor the reality of where they’ve been. They’ve shared something incredibly powerful and incredibly intimate. And now they find themselves in a whole new world and we’re trying to stay true to that. To how hard that must be.

What’s ahead for Connor and Jude now that Connor is moving away to live with his mother?
Jonnor’s going to try to have a long-distance relationship, and that’s a whole new story. It’s a whole new ball of wax. With Connor living a few hours away, Jude has a big vacuum in his life, and the big question now is what’s going to fill that.

You’re probably tired of being asked about that kiss, but do you feel like there’s a lot of pressure to follow that or top it this season?
I’m not tired of talking about the kiss at all. I don’t think I ever will … But I don’t know that I feel a lot of responsibility to top it or even to live up to it. I feel a lot of responsibility to honor Jude’s journey and how complicated that is, coming out. Even today and even in a loving LGBT family. I feel the responsibility to do right by Jude, and follow his journey with some integrity.

“The Fosters” returns Monday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Freeform.