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And previews Dennis' struggle for next season
Good Trouble's inaugural season introduced us to Callie's (Maia Mitchell) and Mariana's (Cierra Ramirez) messy post-college Los Angeles lives. The two adopted sisters from The Fostersmoved in together in a communal living space called the Coterie, where they share a bathroom and a kitchen with a cohort of eclectic personalities. Now that we've gotten to know the older versions of Callie and Mariana, as well as their roommates, a bit better, the season finale set the audience up for an even messier and juicier second season.
The penultimate episode left off with the audience believing that Dennis (Josh Pence) took his own life after a particularly bad downward spiral. The finale revealed that he didn't go through with that choice, but Davia (Emma Hunton) is the only one who knows how close he came to killing himself. Meanwhile, Mariana decided to blow things up at work by exposing Spekulate's pay gap between men, women, and people of color, making her a primary target at a company where she already didn't feel welcome. However, if she decides to leave, she can't take her activism app that was just greenlit with her, putting her between a rock and a hard place.
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On the other side of the loft, Callie is entering a full-on identity crisis as she has to decide which ridiculously attractive man she wants to be with: the smoldering artist Gaiel (Tommy Martinez) or the respectable lawyer with a six-pack Jamie (Beau Mirchoff). Choosing between them, and whether she wants to stick to being a judge's clerk or more of an activist, will be her most pressing trial in the upcoming sophomore season.
TV Guide spoke to Good Trouble executive producer Joanna Johnson about the final episode and where these grey areas will lead Callie, Mariana, and the people they care about in Season 2.
Can you talk about your decision to not have Dennis go through with the suicide?
Joanna Johnson: The stories that we always wanted to tell about Dennis -- we wanted to have a secret that, why is this older guy living here with these kids? You get the impression that he's checked out of life in some way, some other former life that he had. We wanted to do a real story about grief and the loss of a child, which is, I think, the worst thing that can possibly happen to anyone. ... The idea was never to cut the story short by having him commit suicide, and also we really feel sensitive about not in any way promoting or exploiting suicide as the only or ultimate option for the release of pain. We really wanted to tell a story about -- a life-affirming story about getting through grief, even the most difficult thing that can happen and finding purpose for life, and love, and ultimately, through friendship and community.
What does that mean for his story arc in Season 2?
Johnson: I think what happens for people with depression is that they go inside. They don't tell people. They don't share. We wanted to really tell a story about how important it is to reach out, and to allow healing to happen through community. The whole point of the Coterie is that people living together, and how, when you come together in groups, it lifts you out of your doldrums. It lifts you out of a bad day. It can actually be very healing. That's the story that we wanted to tell with Dennis. Not that it's going to be easy for Dennis to do that right off. Dennis is going to try to deal with this on his own, and with Davia's help. And Davia is going to try to, in some ways, try to save him, or ultimately get him to want to save himself.
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The finale also ends on a big cliffhanger about who Callie is going to choose: Jamie or Gael. How much of an arc is that going to be in Season 2? Or is it going to be a rather quick resolution?
Johnson: No, it's not really a quick resolution, and even if she were to make a choice, we often doubt our choices and we're not sure if we've made the right one. I think with this, what Jamie and Gael represent to Callie is different sides of herself. One is the artist side, the more romantic side. The other is a more practical side, the lawyer side of her -- the one who wants to fight and change the law, and fight for legal rights. And the other one who wants to do it through an artistic way.
So it's really a choice for Callie of, "Who do I want to be?" And that changes all the time. Especially when you're in your twenties. You come out of college and you think, "Well, now I'm going to know who I am, and I'm going to know what I want, and I'm going to go out and I'm going to just change the world and take the world by storm." And the world's like, "Who the hell are you?" You get more slapped in the face than you get applauded. Especially, you know, this generation, that in some ways gets a trophy just for showing up. You get out in the real world, the real world doesn't do that.
I love how you guys decided to showcase that with this amazing tango number. What was the genesis with that, and the inspiration behind that fantasy sequence?
Johnson: Well, when I first walked the set of the Coterie, it has such a wonderful feel and, we put some of that smoke in the air for the light to pick up, and to give us that ethereal, romantic vibe. And I thought to myself, "Oh, we need to do a tango in here." Some of that was inspired by Moulin Rouge, the tango scene in that movie. I thought to myself, "Callie is trying to make this decision. She's in an emotional tangle with herself, whether to choose Jamie, or to choose Gael, or whether she chooses the legal path of Judge Wilson, or the more activist path of Malika," so she's tangoing with all these conundrums and all these choices. I thought it was a great way to show that rather than tell it, in a fun sequence that, as I said, I really enjoyed directing [that scene].
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Mariana also has a choice to make. How is exposing the pay gap going to affect her position at Spekulate?
Johnson: She makes the right choice [in the finale], I think,. She decides I'm going to publish the salary information. That's the right thing to do, even if it hurts [her] chance at developing [her] app. But then, Evan says, "No, I want you to stay, and I want you to do your app." And she's like, "I don't think I can, because of all the bad blood." And also because she doesn't really trust Evan's intentions towards her. Are they professional or are they also kind of personal, and how awkward is that going to be? But then he says, "You can't take her app with you if you go." So now she has to make this choice... This app is not just some sort of social, lifestyle app. It's about activism, something she cares about. So, going forward, she has to make that decision, "Am I going to go back? Am I going to stay at Spekulate? All the guys are going to hate me. And I don't even know what Evan's true intentions are. Can I handle that? What happened with this Amanda person that used to work there? But is it worth it? So I can make sure that my app gets to get developed?" So I think she's in a really interesting position.
Can you help me feel a little bit better about Evan? Because I really want to like him, but now I'm super concerned. How do you want the audience to be looking at him going into Season 2?
Johnson: I want the audience to not know. I want them to feel, I want them to like him, because he is sweet and kind of endearing, and you feel for him, and he's a little on the spectrum. He's trying to make a connection with people, and he has such a hard time. I think he sees Mariana as someone who's, especially as an engineer, is so socially well-adjusted. But I think you also want to feel like, is he going to cross the line? Is he giving her this opportunity because he has other feelings for her? I want you to feel uncomfortable going in, and wanting to see what is really the truth.
Why was it important in this episode to show Alice's parents being supportive of her and her sexuality?
Johnson: I think some parents don't want to ask the question, because they don't feel like it's their place. They don't want to intrude on the privacy of their kid, unlike my mother who asked me. I think that it's true, and it happens, that suddenly you're like "We've always known. We've just been waiting for you to tell us." And how that throws Alice. ... Sometimes you think, "Well, if I come out to my parents, and they're accepting, then any kind of queer shame I might have or homophobia internalized I might have, because of where we live and what a lot of the country does believe about people who are LGBTQ, that's just going to go away." But then you realize, it's not. Part of the problem is me, and some of the ideas that I've been brainwashed with. Some of the ideas that I have been ingrained with. So, the struggle is still there. The one thing you thought was going to make it go away, didn't. So that's part of it, Alice is still struggling with her identity, and that's what all the characters are struggling with, is identity, which is, I think, what we all struggle with.
So I think that Alice, like all of them, is really struggling with, "Who am I?" And we see that even with the toilet paper story. She lets people walk all over her. She does not stand up for herself. It's not like she's going to suddenly be out and proud and not have issues. And that's going to impact, still, her relationship going forward with Joey.
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Now that you guys have spent this first season really establishing these characters and who they are, what are you most looking forward to exploring in Season 2? What can fans look forward to?
Johnson: Growing the ensemble and really exploring all these really wonderful rich characters, and how they interact, how the Coterie gives them a sense of community that helps them through the stress of everyday life, and in the smaller questions, and the bigger questions that they're faced with. Just digging deeper into these really fascinating and interesting characters, as well Mariana and Callie. That's really exciting for me to have five or six wonderful characters to dig into, and each episode focuses more on one or another, so it keeps it fresh.
Good Trouble returns Tuesday, June 18 at 8/7c on Freeform.