Why Good Trouble should be your next box set
Helen Archer | On 23, Aug 2020
Season 1 to 4 are available on Disney+ UK. This review is based on Season 1.
The Fosters was a long-running drama, unfolding over five seasons, which detailed the lives of a large and diverse foster family. When it was cancelled in 2018, this spin-off series sprung from the ashes, following two of the adopted Foster-Adams daughters as they head to LA to find their fortune. But fear not if you’ve heard of neither programme – Good Trouble has the legs not only to stand on its own, but to sprint light years ahead.
Unlike many representations of life for newcomers in LA, which tend to focus on the world of acting/modelling /whatever, our two heroines here are unapologetically serious-minded, ambitious and intelligent. Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) has recently graduated from MIT and is starting as a software engineer at a tech company Speckulate, which is filled with characters who could have come straight from the series Silicon Valley.
Callie (Maia Mitchell) is clerking for a conservative judge, while studying for her Bar exams. After an ignominious start, they find themselves ensconced at The Coterie, an “intentional living space” above a theatre – which, in spite of a harsh first impression, turns out to be full of light and spacious inter-connected lofts, complete with arched windows, arty wall murals, and a rooftop view with stunning views of the city (suspension of disbelief is required here, but it’s quickly achieved).
The Coterie is inhabited by a cast of characters that, if listed, would sound like the writers are checking off one diversity box after another, but who are ultimately so rounded that they fully come to life. Similarly, the storylines are what, on paper, could be dismissed as social justice warriors gone mad – everything from sexism in tech to Black Lives Matter, with some body positive activism and transgender acceptance thrown in for good measure – but it’s done with a lightness of touch that belies the weight of the material.
Returning characters from The Fosters dip in and out – Callie and Mariana’s moms visit, and their brothers turn up for parties and Christmas specials – in such an organic way that you don’t really need to be aware of the backstory. The sharpness of the writing fills in any gaps with wit and economy.
It all looks gorgeous, the editing keeps you on your toes (the structure of the episodes jumps back and forth chronologically), and it achieves that rare televisual feat of portraying parties you’d actually like to attend. Yet it’s not overly hip, retaining just enough of an earnest soap opera vibe, albeit without any attendant mawkishness. The characters are flawed and sometimes flailing, relatable while also low-key aspirational.
Fans may have to wait some time for the third season, as filming was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. These 31 episodes should keep viewers going for a while, but be warned: Good Trouble can only be described as ‘moreish’ and, once started, the urge to gorge is strong.