As someone who has rewatched The Fosters three times, I was doubtful that a spin-off show could ever live up to the masterpiece that tells the story of the Adams-Foster family. After much hesitation, I finally gave into watching Good Trouble, the aforementioned spin-off that follows the lives of Callie and Mariana as they head to LA post-grad to face the real world. To be quite honest, my expectations were set pretty low. But after binge-watching Good Trouble in one week, I was blown away by the powerful messages regarding social justice portrayed in this show. For so long the media has tried to stay away from many controversial topics, but rather than playing it safe, Good Trouble confidently brings these topics to light and takes a pretty powerful stand on the political world by calling out the many injustices of our society.
Mariana, one of the main characters, is a young Latino woman trying to make her way in the world of technology as a young engineer. Because engineering is a mainly male populated occupation, she faces all forms of workplace discrimination at her new company Speculate. For starters, when she shows up to work on her first day wearing a dress and heels, she is told that if she wants to be taken seriously she shouldn’t dress so feminine. She is constantly interrupted when trying to speak in meetings and underestimated when pitching ideas. However, issues arise when the usually reserved boss, Evan, takes an interest in her pitch; everyone assumes it’s because he’s interested in her rather than accepting that her pitch was great and giving her the credit she deserves. Her misogynistic coworkers refuse to accept she is smarter than them, so rumors are started that she’s sleeping with the boss. Mariana also examines how her male coworkers are allowed to make a million mistakes, but women aren’t allowed to make mistakes; women could ruin their one chance to be heard, or be asked next time if they are sure that they can handle it, followed by a swarm of men doubting their ability to succeed. And when a picture taken of her getting drinks with her boss leads to rumors around work, we approach the question: “would anyone care if the gender roles were reversed?”
Fed up with the gender discrimination, she forms a “Women in Tech Fight Club” to empower her fellow female coworkers and stand up for what they deserve, as well as tackle the obstacles they as women face in their company. At their first meeting, they all rant about the kinds of discrimination they have faced — one that was common amongst all of them was that every time they suggest something, they are told to tidy up, smile, relax, etc. and then to simply laugh it off.
As a group, the club also tackles the gender wage gap, which is a huge problem in our country. They decide to make an anonymous spreadsheet that outlines their salaries and expose it to the public to demand they be given what they deserve. Mariana also addresses how not only is there a gender wage gap, but there is also a race gap within the women. As a Latina, she doesn’t make as much as the White women hired at the same time as her. When she brings it up to the other women and tries to get them to fight this battle, too, they shoot her idea down and say that they should only tackle one issue at a time since they are “separate”. Mariana rebuts with one of my favorite messages from the show: “They aren’t separate issues, they are intersectional. We can’t say that we are fighting for women when we are leaving those who struggle the most behind.” After many discussions about intersectionality in my Introduction to Gender and Sexuality Studies at Tulane this past semester, it was really interesting to see my class topics come to life.
However, Mariana isn’t the only one breaking barriers in this show. Callie also brings up a lot of social justice issues in her job as clerk for a judge. When she finds out that the reason her fellow clerk, Rebecca, left her previous clerkship due to sexual harassment, she encourages Rebecca to come forward. Rebecca explains to Callie that she can’t come forward because nobody would believe her months later when it is her word against a highly respected federal judge. Callie, however, is determined to get justice and reports it to Judge Wilson, whom she works for.
Callie’s work uncovers the many holes in the judicial system. For starters, the judges all have so much power. When discussing the judge in question for sexual harassment, it is brought up that the problem with lifetime appointments is that “these judges could commit murder and get away with it”. We also see holes in the system when Judge Wilson gets away with only having one black juror on a case regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.
But it’s not even just the two main characters who are breaking barriers. The show brings up the topic of gender and sexuality when focusing on the stories of Gael, a bisexual man who struggles with labels, Alice, a lesbian who once coming out to her parents is told nobody else in the family can know, Jazmine, Gael’s transgender sister who can’t keep a job, and of course, Mariana and Callie’s two moms who have become one of the most talked about lesbian television couples. Police brutality is highlighted in the court case of Jamal Thompson, who was shot dead by the police and lied unattended for fifteen minutes before any medical services arrived. Malika, an African American character, also brings up racism and privilege; in a fight with Davia, her white friend she says “if the truth feels like an attack then [she] needs to check [her] privilege”. This is an important message to viewers, as white and class privilege is so often overlooked by those who possess it.
Although fictional characters, I was inspired by Callie and Mariana and their fight for women. Good Trouble is a powerful reminder that we are not yet living in a successful post-feminism world. Over time, women have earned many rights, but that does not mean our fight is over. We as women must continue to stick together and create a world in which social justice is no longer an ideal but a part of our reality. Good Trouble might not be the continuation of The Fosters that fans were looking for, but instead is an incredible show with embedded social justice issues at the forefront in an entertaining, drama-filled way.
Cover Photo: E! News