Graphic by Christopher Ikonomou
Following the series finale of The Fosters in June 2018, fans of the show were sad to see the Adams-Foster family leave Tuesday nights on Freeform, the television network previously named ABC Family. The Fosters followed the everyday lives of a lesbian couple Stef and Lena Adams-Foster and their five children in San Diego. Across five seasons, the show explored themes of family, sexuality, and identity. The Fosters taught many of its viewers about love, acceptance, pride, and passion. To see such an inspiring and relatable show leave the air was heartbreaking for its die-hard fans. Before the show aired its last episodes, however, fans were ecstatic to know that a spinoff called Good Trouble would air in early 2019 following the lives of Mariana and Callie, Stef and Lena’s two daughters, as they move to Los Angeles to begin their careers and try to survive the dog-eat-dog world we all live in.
The new series starts with Mariana and Callie moving into their new apartment, or at least, that is what Callie thought they were signing up for. Instead, the two move into a living community, called “The Coterie,” because it is the cheapest place to live in Downtown Los Angeles for $1800 per month. Good Trouble spends the remainder of its first season narrating the crazy lives of Mariana and Callie as they gradually adjust to the new living arrangements and find passion, love, friendships, and more in the most unexpected places.
Now Good Trouble may just seem like your typical television show that gets everyone hyped, but by the time the first season is over, the fans are bored and tired. Good Trouble, however, avoids this pitfall. Just as The Fosters tested boundaries discussing and exploring topics relevant to today’s political climate, Good Trouble continues to push those boundaries even further. Within the show, topics including police brutality against African Americans, social stigmas regarding sexuality, cross-cultural differences regarding sexuality, and patriarchal power within society are explored with caution, delicacy, and most importantly, accuracy.
Specifically, regarding the topics dealing with sexuality, Good Trouble portrays individuals who identify as queer simply as ordinary individuals, a crucial concept for non-queer audiences to see. There is an unfortunate tendency in some parts of society to see individuals outside the heterosexual orientation as peculiar, abnormal, and in some cases, subhuman. Good Trouble, on the other hand, attempts to erase this social stigma when depicting its queer characters without erasing their queerness from the character’s development and growth– as do many other television shows that illustrate queer individuals assimilating into heteronormative culture. On Good Trouble, the audience sees individuals outside the heteronormative bubble as simply people who are attracted to other people, be it of the same gender or not.
While Good Trouble successfully portrays queer people as ordinary, it also does not erase the uphill battle that the queer community continues to face today. For example, Jazmin is a transgender woman who has previously been discriminated against on numerous accounts in the workplace. Jazmin’s backstory includes being harassed at a nightclub for being trans and causing a fight to break out that results in the police being called. The police automatically assumed the cause of the fight was Jazmin and told her to leave the scene. Jazmin then jerked her hand away from an officer– a small action that results in her arrest for supposedly resisting. This incident reflects on the general trans experience regarding discrimination and harassment. Later in the season, this incident becomes the basis for a legal dispute that further illustrates the uphill battle queer people– especially trans people– are still fighting.
Good Trouble also addresses the supposed mysteriousness that bisexual individuals present to both straight and gay individuals as Gael, a resident of The Coterie, struggles to choose between Callie and his male love interest Bryan. The queer community throws a large stigma around individuals who identify as bisexual. This is because many people believe that bisexuality is someone’s excuse to not “pick a side,” in terms of who they are sexually attracted to. The queer community supposedly fights for the understanding of sexual and gender fluidity, yet continues to push for a binary culture in terms of sexuality. Nonetheless, bisexuality is a very valid and real identity that showcases sexuality’s fluidity and in-betweens. Good Trouble does not shy away from breaking down these stigmas and barriers within and outside the queer community.
The show Good Trouble does little to disappoint in its representation of the queer community by both shedding light and bringing the more serious aspects to a wider audience. Furthermore, it offers hope and stands as a model for other television shows when queer characters become a part of the picture. Good Trouble is much more than a show that brings queer culture in the spotlight; it continues to tell a dynamic and influential story started by the show’s predecessor that is undoubtedly positive, queer, and powerful.