‘Good Trouble’ Co-Creator Breaks Down the Series Finale’s Emotional Farewell: ‘Will We Be Remembered?’

Rexa Vella

‘Good Trouble’ Co-Creator Breaks Down the Series Finale’s Emotional Farewell: ‘Will We Be Remembered?’

‘Good Trouble’ Co-Creator Breaks Down the Series’ Emotional Farewell

SPOILER ALERT: This story contains spoilers from “What Now?,” the series finale of “Good Trouble,” now streaming on Hulu.

“Good Trouble,” which aired its series finale on Freeform Tuesday, has been a flagship show for the channel’s Gen-Z and liberal-leaning audience since it premiered in 2018. The drama was a spinoff from “The Fosters,” a groundbreaking, foundational show for ABC Family, Freeform’s previous name before it rebranded with a heavier focus on programming for politically active 20somethings. “Good Trouble”  centered on “The Fosters” characters Callie (Maia Mitchell) and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) as they moved into a communal loft space called The Coterie in downtown Los Angeles, and began their post-grad adult lives. 

Yes, the show revolved around Callie and Mariana’s personal and fledgling professional lives, but it also tackled real-life issues that affected them and their housemates. In the first season, Callie clerked for a conservative judge overseeing a police shooting involving the wrongful death of an unarmed Black man, while her roommate Malika (Zuri Adele) worked for a civil rights non-profit that was protesting outside the trial. Taking place in present-day 2018, the series was ahead of the curve when it came to centralizing the Black Lives Matter movement and criticism over policing. 

Throughout its five seasons, “Good Trouble” would go on to tackle trans rights, body issues, the unhoused population and more. The final two seasons featured a cult storyline that had to be wrapped up quickly when Freeform announced that Season 5 would be the show’s last. The finale sent Mariana and investigative journalist Joaquin (Bryan Craig) for the last time to try and take Silas (Graham Whibley) down, and free Joaquin’s sister from Silas’ clutches. The venture led to a brutal fight that put Silas in the hospital, but gave Mariana and Joaquin the proof they needed to make sure he went to jail for a very long time. 

Kara Wang, left, Sherry Cola, right. Courtesy of Disney

The rest of the finale focused on how the rest of The Coterie would move on after their landlord Alice (Sherry Cola) was informed that their building was being sold and the communal space would be shut down. The show’s final scenes brought The Coterie family together for one last group dinner to share their next career moves, and to reminisce about their lingering legacy around the rooftop pool.

“Those dinners are very indicative of that good feeling when we’re all around at the dinner table together with friends and family,” series co-creator Joanna Johnson tells Variety. “It just felt obvious that [a family dinner] was what that scene had to be. There was also a big family dinner in the pilot when Marianna and Callie first moved in. It just seemed right to have a bookend with the last episode.” 

The end of “Good Trouble” also signals a new chapter for Freeform, as its remaining programming is mostly in the unscripted space. Below, Johnson elaborates more about crafting the final episode of the series, picking Mariana’s endgame relationship and speculates about the characters’ futures.

What did you have planned as the original ending for this season?

The original ending was going to cut off right after Silas says, “I guess it’s just you and me now, Marianna,” and we didn’t know what was going to happen. 

Instead, we get this beautiful fast-forward to The Coterie final dinner after Alice finds out the building is being sold. Why did a family dinner feel like the right way to bring this cast together? 

We’ve kind of always done family dinners throughout the series. That was a thing about doing a spinoff from “The Fosters” that I really wanted to keep in this show, was the idea of a family dinner table. We did so many scenes around the dinner table on “The Fosters” with all of the family there, so we had the big communal table at The Coterie — and the heart of both of these shows is family. It’s the family you were born into or adopted into, or the family you choose when you go out in the world. 

T.J. Linnard Courtesy of Disney

Mariana also made a decision between Evan (T.J. Linnard) and Joaquin. How did you decide that Evan made the most sense for her? 

I feel like the audience, even though we love Joaquin as well, always saw Evan as endgame. There’s something adorable between Mariana and Evan that you just can’t deny. It always seemed like they would end up together in the end. 

Do you imagine they’ll be moving in together with The Coterie shutting down, or will Mariana have her own space for a while? 

I feel like Mariana will have her own space for a while. I don’t know if she’s someone who will just jump right into living with Evan. She seems more independent than that to me. 

Kelly (Anastasia Leddick) is one of the few characters who didn’t share what she’s doing post-The Coterie. What do you imagine her future is? She’s one of the most fascinating characters on the show. 

She’s always been kind of a mystery character. I had joked early on that when the show ended we were going to reveal that she actually was a ghost and had been living in The Coterie for 100 years, and wasn’t a real person. I was sort of joking about that, but I think Kelly will probably continue to work in the theater. She works at the Palace Theater, which The Coterie sits above. She’ll just continue working. I am not worried about her. 

Maia Mitchell, left, Cierra Ramirez, right. Disney

How much of that final pool scene was scripted, and how much was the actors just talking about their experience being on the series? 

It was all scripted. I wrote it to be self-reflective so that it was really about the show too. Will we be remembered? Did we make any sort of impact in the world? I think that’s something you always think about at the end of something, especially shows that have political messaging and humanitarian messaging. 

With any show you wonder, will people remember these characters? Will people go back and watch it again? Will people find it on Hulu? Will people suddenly discover “The Fosters”? I’ve noticed that people are starting to watch “The Fosters,” and then discovering “Good Trouble.” So you just wonder, it’s 10 seasons of your life and your work, will we be remembered? 

On that note, is there a “Good Trouble” storyline that you are most proud of? 

I was really proud of the Black Lives Matter storyline when we did the trial about the wrongful shooting of a Black man in Season 1. Our partnership with Good Trouble, and then BLM later on. We had Patrisse Cullors on the show in 2018. Black Lives Matter sort of had a negative approval rating [at the time], and it was wonderful to see them getting more acknowledgement in 2020, albeit for sad reasons. I’m really proud of that storyline. I think it’s important that we all have courage to talk about racism and talk about policing. 

I love all of the fun storylines too. I really enjoyed Alice working with the guys on “America’s Favorite Ferrets and Friends,” because I thought that was hilarious. I like seeing older people on television and we don’t see enough of that. I really, really enjoyed writing that. Then I love mystery, so I enjoyed the whole Silas cult story. I think that’s fun. 

Is there anything you were excited to talk about in a potential Season 6 that you weren’t able to get to? 

I definitely wanted to do messaging around the upcoming election. We just threw a little bit in there in the dinner party scene, but I feel strongly that people have to vote for the best candidate, not always the perfect candidate. I am worried about young people being turned off by President Joe Biden because he’s older and because they may not think he’s done everything right, or done everything perfectly. He’s done a lot. I don’t think the Democrats message enough about how much he’s done, and how much he will continue to do. I hate to see people get disillusioned and say, “Well, I don’t think there’s a candidate that I think is wonderful, so I’m not going to vote.” 

That really worries me, because if you don’t vote for Biden, you’re voting for Trump. And if you’re voting for Trump, sorry — I think you’re voting for the end of our democracy. I think you’re voting for an authoritarian leader. I think you’re going to see more rights being lost; not just the right to abortion, but you’re going to lose probably same-sex marriage rights, rights for gender and transgender care for young people — probably transgender rights in general. I think you’ll go back to having no gays in the military. I think they’re going to strip us of a lot of our civil rights, not to mention they are going to give tax cuts to corporations and people are still going to hurt economically. 

I really, really, want young people to realize that nothing is perfect, and sometimes your vote for someone is important because you’re voting against something that is worse. 

“Good Trouble” has been so emblematic of what Freeform stands for as a network. What is your opinion on what’s next for the network with this and “Grown-ish” coming to an end this season? 

I really don’t know. All I can say is that I have loved working at Freeform. This whole journey has been over 11 years. I’ve had nothing but a great experience. Everyone was always so supportive of our show. They were just wonderful creative partners. I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but I do think it is a wonderful network, and a great place to work. 

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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