Good Trouble Review: The Fosters Spin-Off Is So Much Sexier This Time Around

Photo: Courtesy of Freeform.
When The Fosters wrapped, my colleague Rebecca Farley described the Freeform family soap as “a comfy, orthopedic shoe.” It was an apt description for a drama that gave your heart warm fuzzies almost every week, without the hint of emotional manipulation that hangs over each episode of This Is Us. When Freeform announced a spin-off for the Adams Fosters saga was ahead, many wondered if the upcoming series, eventually titled Good Trouble, would be just as sweet.
Now that Good Trouble is here, we know the answer is a resounding hell no. Good Trouble, officially premiering Tuesday, January 8, is sexy where The Fosters was earnest; messy where its predecessor was moral. It’s a blast for it.
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As originally promised, the new series follows two of the Adams Foster kids — Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) and Callie (Maia Mitchell) to be exact — into their “adulting” adventures. Both are about 25, freshly out of college and ready to take on the real world of Los Angeles. Mariana is an ultra-feminine engineer joining a brotastic startup; Callie is clerking for a conservative federal judge after law school. Each of them is prone to fatal flaw-created massive blunders, from missing a work call from their powerful boss due to “Party Rock Anthem”-tuned boozing, or accidentally calling out their supervisor in a drunken Instagram live. And that’s just from one episode (Freeform made the first five installments available to press).
On The Fosters, these kinds of mistakes would be solved by learning how to be a better, more enlightened individual. But in Good Trouble, slip-ups aren’t exactly fixed with a neat bow — mostly because that’s not what happens in the twisty real lives of millennial women. Especially not when they’re living in a Gen Y-style commune that brings together a coterie of young people from different walks of life, as our heroines end up doing. Marina and Callie's untraditional living situation makes for deeper, even more inclusive series. With the previously mentioned missteps, one of the Adams Fosters wallows in her drunkenness in the most responsible way possible… with some important flirting interspersed throughout the night. No day saving to be seen here.
Speaking of that flirting, Good Trouble is not afraid of it. This is a show where characters say, “You need to get laid,” and mean it. Within minutes of that kind of advice, the Freeform series will follow up with an intense sex scene. Sometimes the sultry moments even appear in the most prestige drama-y way — with time jumps to unveil why certain people are experiencing confusing levels of sexual tension. Good Trouble announces this stylistic decision within its pilot “DTLA,” which Freeform made available to stream a week before its linear TV premiere, when Callie meets resident series dreamboat Gael (Tommy Martinez). The timeline jumping sexiness only expands from there. One post-coital scene is so real, it inspired some passionate Slack messaging about unexpectedly boundary-pushing “male dude-ity” on this writer's part.
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Amid all the shirtless men peacocking in front of the Trouble camera, no heartthrob deserves to get the thirsty acclaim Noah Centineo did over the summer more than Gael’s portrayer Martinez. As we learn throughout Good Trouble’s first season, the hunky artist-graphic designer is truly the bae Gen Y-into-Z deserves.
Between all the hookups, flubs, and career flailing, it’s easy to see Trouble shares far more of its essential spirit with the ever-striving The Bold Type than cozy The Fosters. But, the difference between the original series and its spin-off will only truly hit viewers when Mariana and Callie are forced to share the screen with their OG scene partners, moms Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum). It wasn’t until mama and mom actually show up towards Good Trouble’s midseason that the dramedy managed to wrangle a tear from my eye. All of a sudden, the sappy fumes of The Fosters finally smacked me in the feels. That is how strong the late series’ sentimental pull is — and it serves as a stark reminder of everything Good Trouble isn’t going for. That's why the moms' sometimes feeling-filled appearance ends up veering into its own zany, bouncy territory between all the emotional honesty.
Now we wait to see how the imminent arrival of Mariana and Callie’s most famous sibling — Centineo’s Jesus Adams Foster — will influence the proceedings. The smart money, and first-look photos, suggest Mariana’s twin will manage to make everything sexier and sweeter. Thank you, yes.
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