Celebrating ‘Good Trouble’: ‘The Fosters’ Spin-Off Cast and Showrunner Say Goodbye to Boundary-Pushing Series

Cierra Ramirez, Maia Mitchell, Joanna Johnson and more look back at the evolution of the Freeform franchise after 12 years

Maia Mitchell and Cierra Ramirez in "Good Trouble." (Disney/Carlos Lopez-Calleja)

After 12 years of following the Adams Foster family through “The Fosters” and its subsequent spin-off “Good Trouble,” the show’s cast, showrunner and its fans are saying goodbye to the beloved franchise.

“Good Trouble” wrapped up a five-season run with its Tuesday series finale, marking the end of the Freeform show with a final family dinner that reunited sisters Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) and Callie (Maia Mitchell) alongside their fellow Coterie residents.

Prompted by the communal living space’s impending sale, the friends reminisced on the biggest highlights of the series as they prepared to part ways when Dennis (Josh Pence) asked the group, “you think anyone will remember us?”

“I really wrote that [in reference to] the shows and what I hope that impact is — that families are made in very different ways, and the most important ingredient in any family is love,” showrunner Joanna Johnson told TheWrap in a recent interview. “You have your family that raises you and you have your chosen family as you go out into the world.”

Premiering on then-ABC family in 2013, “The Fosters” introduced lesbian couple Lena (Sherri Saum) and Stef (Theresa Polo), whose modern family included Stef’s biological son Brandon (David Lambert), adopted twins Jesus (Jake T. Austin in Season 1-2, then Noah Centineo in Season 3-5) in and Mariana and biological siblings Callie and Jude (Hayden Byerly), who the family took in as foster children.

The family drama distinguished itself from the beginning as a show that pushed boundaries, taking on topics that were anything but commonplace on mainstream TV, including gay parenting, transgender identity and mental health.

Not only did “The Fosters” bring social justice-related issues to the forefront, it also chronicled societal progressions in real time. Ramirez, who joked the writers on the show had a “crystal ball,” recalled a particularly heartwarming moment while filming a 2013 episode centered on Stef and Lena’s wedding, which aligned with the legalization of same-sex marriage in California.

“The episode had been written two different ways: either they were going to get married, or they were just going to profess their love for each other, and that was going to be it,” Ramirez told TheWrap. “The energy on set was insane. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.”


It wasn’t until “The Fosters” began wrapping up its five-season run that Ramirez and Mitchell were approached by the show’s cocreators Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige about the possibility of a spin-off series.

“The idea of it coming to an end was such a hard thing for me to grasp, so when we had the opportunity to continue the story I was absolutely down, and to be able to do it with Maia Mitchell, who was one of my best friends, was just a dream,” Ramirez said. “I think it was really relevant to me because I’m 20-something in Los Angeles, and it was really cool to see Mariana and Callie in that same world. I just wasn’t ready to say goodbye.”

“I immediately said, ‘Oh my god, yes!’ If we can keep telling these stories and keep these characters alive, count me in,” Mitchell added.

As Bredeweg, Paige and Johnson began crafting the world of “Good Trouble,” which kicked off with Callie and Mariana moving into a communal living situation in Los Angeles to pursue their respective professions, the EPs consulted Mitchell and Ramirez on what life might look like as the heroines entered young adulthood.

“[They] sat me down and said, ‘Listen, life imitates art. We have written our lives into ‘The Fosters’ — a lot of the things that happened have happened to us — so we need to sit down with you all because we’re writing about 20-year-olds living in LA, and that’s exactly who you are — spill,’ ” Ramirez recalled.

“The tea was piping!” Mitchell added, joking the creators definitely used herself and Ramirez for research. “We were suddenly playing our age and it was set in LA, which is where we were living, and the storylines were going to be a little more relevant to us … it was definitely fun for us.”

Soon enough, “Good Trouble” built out its ensemble cast to include Coterie residents Malika (Zuri Adele), Alice (Sherry Cola), Gael (Tommy Martinez), Davia (Emma Hunton) and Dennis (Josh Pence), all of whom dealt with their own unique professional, personal and romantic struggles, and welcomed back Callie’s on-again-off-again “Fosters” love interest Jamie (Beau Mirchoff).

Through the perspectives of the new characters, “Good Trouble” dove even deeper into issues related to trans parenting, consensual non-monogamy, homelessness, racism and discrimination, sparking conversations with audiences nationwide. So far, “Good Trouble” has been honored with three GLAAD media award nominations for Outstanding Drama Series, three Teen Choice Awards nominations and two nods from Women’s Image Network Awards.

By 2022, Mitchell took a step back from “Good Trouble” to return home to Australia, which she reflected was a “big” but “definitely the right decision.”

“I did really just need to be home at that time, but I’ve been so lucky that I’ve come back and I’ve done so many episodes since,” Mitchell said. “It’s been a gradual letting go process for me.”

Since Callie’s sendoff to work at the ACLU in Washington, D.C. — and subsequent reunion with Jamie — early in Season 4, Mitchell appeared in a handful of Season 5 episodes, including a celebration of Callie and Jamie’s engagement that brought together “The Fosters” family for the last time.

Mitchell also returned for the “Good Trouble” series finale after the show’s abrupt cancellation prompted Johnson and the team to produce additional scenes for a super-sized series finale.

“You get the answers to a lot of your questions about the triangles, who chose who and what’s everyone going to do next and where everyone’s headed,” Johnson said. “It would have broken my heart if we had just pulled the plug and not been able to resolve things.”

After over a decade of playing Mariana, whose evolution on the two shows saw her working her way up from a male-dominated high school robotics club to become the CEO of tech startup Spekulate, Ramirez said her time on the franchise encouraged her to take up space as she moves on to further acting and producing positions.

“I feel like people have worries that they’re not deserving of being in certain situations or settings, and I love that [Mariana] has always been been big on making herself known, and she does it well,” Ramirez said. “I definitely want to take that with me — letting go of that fear of not being somewhere I deserve.”

Mitchell applauded Callie’s unapologetic bravery, saying “she really has such a strong sense of social justice, and she goes to bat for people who are in need of her help. I definitely have tried to access that more in my life.”

The rest of the Coterie crew will keep the “Good Trouble” momentum going as well, with Pence referencing John Lewis’ iconic phrase that taught him “speak[ing] up and speak[ing] out” is “contagious.” Cola and Hunton similarly shared that their time on the show encouraged them to “make more noise,” in an effort to stand up for themselves and others. Adele noted that the series taught her to “trust [her] intuition and speak up for it.”

Looking back at the legacy left by “The Fosters” and “Good Trouble,” Sherri Saum noted the power that love and acceptance can have, noting “the very idea that we got picked up as a show in 2012 — a time when some of the topics we were dealing with were not in a grounded everyday kind of way — speaks volumes about how much everyone really just needs love and acceptance. That’s what pushed us through.”

As fans part ways with the beloved characters and storylines, Ramirez hopes audiences and fans get into some “necessary trouble” of their own.

“There’s always more that we can do as as individuals, and we have to stand up for people who don’t have a voice and make ourselves known,” Ramirez said. “Good trouble is always needed.”

All five seasons of “Good Trouble” are now streaming on Freeform.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.