Good Trouble review: No slumping here, but rather an reinforcement of progressivity


Freeform aired episode 2 of Good Trouble last night, swerving away from the typical “sophomore slump” for this wonderfully progressive show.

Second episodes of any show can be tough. Pilots come in strong, usually stronger than anything you’ll see further into the season, and specifically stronger than the episode directly after. Producers, authors, creators, and writers want to grab your attention afterall. But once they have it with the pilot, the show tends to simmer down. That is not the case for Good Trouble.

As a spinoff of an already popular show, The Fosters, a show that held our attention for five seasons, it does have the advantage of a well-formed fan base, an established perspective, and being able to avoid working every single background detail of the main characters into the story. With that being said however, Good Trouble is a show that can stand on its own without having  knowledge of where the story spawned from.

The show follows sisters Callie (Maia Mitchell) and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) Adams-Foster as they move out of their moms’ house to begin their journey of adulthood in Los Angeles. Callie’s working as a clerk for conservative Judge Wilson (Roger Bart) while Mariana faces the misogyny of a start up engineering company. Both are dealing with their own issues, but they’re also finding common ground back at their shared living community of the coterie, where we meet a gaggle of new characters that I can only guess will eventually become Callie and Mariana’s second family.

At its core, the show is about growing up, moving out, and learning to deal with anything life throws at you. But beneath it all, Good Trouble is becoming a leader on television with progressive story lines, relevant themes, and one heck of a liberal perspective.

The Jamal Thompson case

Now I don’t watch every single series on television, so I’ll say this next statement with a grain of salt. Good Trouble is one of the only shows right now that views politically and racially substantial viewpoints of our generation in a mature and previously established way, where our thoughts are never dismissed because of our age. The conversations between Callie and Malika (Zuri Adele) are healthy, necessary, and the backbone of what Good Trouble’s creators stand for, and I applaud them for that.

Callie’s judge gets assigned a case we all know way too well these days: a cop on trial for shooting and killing an unarmed black man. Making matters even worse, Callie’s co-clerk Rebecca (Molly McCook) makes it seem like Callie was only hired to give Judge Wilson the counter arguments so he’ll know how to dismiss the ruling, favoring the cop.

This is a theme that my generation has unfortunately grown up with and it’s a theme that we can form our own opinions on, yet one we never see expressed on TV. But we are now.

Malika is what Callie needs to bring her new case down to a personal level. Callie has always been more passionate about things when it directly affects someone she cares about, so coming “home” to Malika every night is going to push her to fight to the death. Could it also put her in a position where she loses some sense of professionalism? Probably. But it wouldn’t be Callie Adams-Foster if some professionalism wasn’t canned.

Bisexuality comes to the fore

I was worried with where production was going to take this bisexual storyline. In the pilot episode, Callie starts hooking up with coterie-mate Gael, who just so happens to be Mariana’s coworker that she’s had heart eyes for since her interview. When Callie finally comes clean to Mariana about everything, they catch a glimpse inside Gael’s apartment where they see him going at it with another man. Mariana’s reaction is part confusion, part hesitation, and honestly, part disgust, and she forgives Callie immediately.

I’ll admit that that last scene in the pilot took me off guard. Growing up with two moms, and being exposed to people of differing genders, sexualities, and lifestyles, I was shocked that Mariana had that opinion about Gael. It isn’t until the second episode that she finally mentions she’d be “super insecure dating a guy who was into both sexes” and continues by saying “knowing I couldn’t give him what another guy could, it would drive me crazy.”

Callie then seems to follow suit, questioning Jude about Gael’s hooking up with guys with girlfriends, clearly wondering if Gael is actually bisexual or instead in the closet. But when you have to preface a statement with “and I’m not biphobic,” it usually means whatever’s about to come out of your mouth is a little biphobic.

As a bisexual woman, maybe this one just hits a little too close to home for me to critically review. Does it make Gael any less of a desirable man to women because he sleeps with other men? Does it make me any less of a desirable woman to men because I’m currently with a woman? Luckily for me (and Callie), Jude gives a response that I think we all needed to hear.

"Bisexuality is a hard thing for some people to wrap their head around. Why do we have to put ourselves in boxes when it comes to who we want to be with? Shouldn’t it just be about the person?"

Judicorn’s response for the win! I knew I always liked him.

Misogyny meets misery (and Mariana)

While Callie’s dealing with all of that, Mariana’s on a journey of her own. She begins working for a tech start up company, and even though her new paycheck is worth it, her new coworkers might not be. She finds herself in a team of three guys who clearly have never worked with a woman engineer. While they have “team building” nights like going to hockey games and paying laser tag, Mariana finds herself left out and out of the loop of some important work conversations.

She spent the majority of this episode complaining about her team not coming to their coterie party, and then the rest of the episode calling and texting her boss to apologize for a drunk roommate calling him out in an Instalive. I’ll be curious to see how that bodes over at work the next week (and hopefully in the next episode).

Someone just needs to take Mariana’s phone away when she’s drunk.

Coterie Squad

While Callie and Mariana take up the majority of screen time, there are a few other characters on this show that I’m already committed to. And that’s the coterie squad, specifically Alice (Sherry Cola), the resident lesbian who’s trying to get over her ex, and Davia (Emma Hunton), a plus size Instagram influencer who might be a little more self conscious then she appears.

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Storylines aside, Good Trouble’s filmography and writing are an absolute joy to watch and have truly encompassed everything this generation latches onto. The story is told through social media, text conversations, and in a way that is socially and culturally appropriate.

From lesbian stereotypes to bisexuality to race-based politics to body shaming to misogyny in the workplace, Good Trouble is setting itself up for a season of television with liberal colored glasses on, entertaining a generation that’s desperate for a voice of its own.

Catch Good Trouble every Tuesday on Freeform.