Freeform debuted the first episode of the second season ofThe Fosters spinoff Good Trouble at the ATX Television Festival ahead of the show’s June 18 premiere, and it served up some riveting, hilarious, heartwarming, heartbreaking and, in a word, uncut television. Stars Maia Mitchell and Cierra Ramirez took the stage along with co-creator/executive producer/writer Joanna Johnson and moderator Breanne Heldman of People after the screening to unpack the episode — specifically the importance of authentically portraying social issues.
The new season picks up where the first left off, effortlessly juggling the characters’ storylines. The episode catches up with Callie (Mitchell), Mariana (Ramirez), Malika (Zuri Adele), Alice (Sherry Cola), Davia (Emma Hunton), Dennis (Josh Pence) Gael (Tommy Martinez) and those adjacent to The Coterie. One narrative that is woven throughout the season premiere is Callie’s involvement in the Jamal Thompson shooting case. Steeped in Black Lives Matter, with Malika leading the charge, the show has very much leaned into the movement. Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors was a consultant during the first season and since has become part of the writers room. Johnson talked about their decision to put the movement into the spotlight.
“We don’t talk about race enough,” she said. “It’s a conversation that we need to have — and not just after a police shooting. White people don’t feel comfortable talking about race because no one wants to feel racist.”
She continues to say that when people say they are “colorblind” it’s erasing someone’s real experience. “To say that is dismissing them. When I was writing the pilot, Stephon Clark had just been shot and I thought, ‘We have to keep talking about this.'”
In addition, Ramirez talked about women — specifically women of color — in the tech space, which is very much a focus on this season. Her character continues to encounter obstacles as a woman of color in the second season, and Ramirez was aware of the issues women face in the tech world, and she “loved representing Latinas in the tech world.”
Good Trouble also tackles LGBTQ identities from an authentic perspective. In particular, we see Gael’s journey as a bisexual man — an identity that seldom is seen through a nuanced lens. “Bisexual people have a hard time,” Johnson points out. “They aren’t really embraced — especially men.” She adds that there is a certain stigma with bisexual men that aren’t taken seriously, and it was important for them to explore that. We get the opportunity to do just that through the eyes of Callie, who develops a relationship with Gael. Even though she was in a previous relationship with a transgender male and clearly is open-minded, we get to see her look into her own stereotypes of bisexuality and in turn, look at our own.
“It’s good to talk about bi-phobia,” said Mitchell. “It is real with people who think they are open-minded and it is important to see where that line is crossed.”
Johnson, Mitchell and Ramirez remained tight-lipped on whether characters from The Fosters will be appearing in the new season, but they did talk about how their sophomore run will continue to lean into real-world issues and advocacy including homelessness and how certain schools are a pipeline to prison for people of color. Good Trouble is on a growing list of shows that continue to practice inclusion in Hollywood and not just talk about it — and it all starts with the writers room.
“People of color can write about white people because that’s the world they have lived in,” Johnson said on having a diverse writers room. “I don’t think white writers can write black, Asian or Latino characters authentically. We need more [diversity in the writers room], and I will continue to do that.”
Good Trouble is executive produced by Johnson, Mitchell, Ramirez, Peter Paige, Bradley Bredeweg, Gregory Gugliotta, Christine Sacani, Jennifer Lopez, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and Benny Medina.