And again, with Good Trouble’s mission to tell thorough, consistent, and relatable stories from the perspectives of communities who aren’t always at the forefront of the mainstream media viewers regularly consume, the series always feels cutting edge and ahead of the curve.
It’s not so much that they’re ahead of the times or “timely.” It’s the times catching up to a series that sheds light on the places or people often left in the shadows.
It’s because of that that storylines such as Good Trouble Season 3 Episode 6‘s exploration of Alice’s plight as an up-and-coming Asian-American stand-up comic exude how this series has its finger on the pulse.
It addresses conversations that have taken place long before the series but before society is willing to have dialogue. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
Alice is such a naive character in a sense, and it’s that naivety that had led her not to consider or realize the rippling effects of what would happen the second she mimicked her mother in a comedic bit during Good Trouble Season 3 Episode 3.
Most knowing viewers could figure out where the act would lead, Alice typecast into an Asian stereotype where they find humor in her imitating someone who can barely speak English; thus, her identity becomes their amusement.
You could see the exact moment the characters of color and Lindsay realized what was happening. You also knew the second Alice recognized that the laughter was pointed and racial and that she inadvertently perpetuated it.
It was a heart-sinking moment. Yet, it’s one that many people have been there before. It’s especially prominent in the entertainment industry, where one has to play up to certain stereotypes for the amusement or comfort of others “to get by” or get their foot in the door.
Alice’s realization of this hit her like a sledgehammer. However, it did lead to a wonderful exchange between her and Lindsay in a shockingly quiet moment in the Coterie’s communal kitchen space.
Lindsay is, let’s face it, godawful the majority of the time. Their general assholish behavior makes it easy to forget about how capable they are of being a good friend and person sometimes.
Alice: I guess you were right.
Lindsay: About what?
Alice: Me falling back on my ethnicity. I opened this Pandora’s Box for Asian stereotypes. I never should’ve done my mom.
Lindsay: I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. You have every right to do your interpretation of your mom. The problem is we don’t control how people appropriate our humor. So, as a non-binary comic, as an Asian comic, we’re doing jokes about how people don’t understand our pronouns or how much our mom hates how loud our dad chews but, uh, to some people it’s laughing at the queer freak or the Chinese lady who talks funny.
Alice: So what do we do?
Lindsay: We show them that what makes us funny isn’t just what makes us different.
Lindsay led with an apology for the salty accusation of Alice using her ethnicity to get by. It was a real stinger, and the layers of which it hurt are coming to fruition now.
As Lindsay said, in an ideal world, Alice could speak about her mother and utilize her in comic routines without people jumping to the Tiger Mom stereotype and perceiving that and subsequently Asians with accents as the punchline of a joke.
But there’s this fine line between Alice or even Lindsay discussing their lives and what that looks like for them as a result of their differences and the audience jumping to the conclusion that those differences ARE the joke itself.
It’s something they have to learn to navigate. It puts them in a position of catering and leaning into the status quo of stereotypes, thus compromising themselves along the way or staunchly refusing to do so but getting stonewalled in their careers.
Alice’s subtle stand against that system was to come up with routines that excluded mimicking her mother, and while her peers enjoyed it, she took a sizeable blow from her teacher and the panelists.
Alice faced punishment, or more so a lack of opportunity and advancement, for not limiting herself to what evolved into a racist typecast,
What does one do then? It’s something that many entertainers have fallen victim to and promptly refused to engage in further. The esteemed John Cho is one of the first to come to mind.
What’s sad is that the other comedians of color saw what was happening and concluded that they had to cater to the same things. The Latina students skit involved the fiery Latina trope, and her bit was threatening to take off her hoop earrings (gearing up for a fight), popping gum, and rolling her ‘r’s to excessiveness.
And the Muslim student came to Alice with the only skit the writers wrote for her — them, upon his request, where she played up paranoid, nosey Tiger mom accusing him of carrying a bomb. In the student’s mind, he hates playing the parts, too, but he felt this was a groundbreaking opportunity, and they had to play along to get further.
I guess the question becomes how long can that continue? If you keep making those same sacrifices and compromises, anticipating it’s for a greater good in the long-run, then where does it end? What’s stopping you from reasoning that with each job and opportunity that further typecasts you?
Does it help in the end? Alice died a little inside — the light went out in her as she completed her role, saw the laughing faces, and she considered this sacrifice she may or may not have to make, and Lindsay was disappointed.
Maybe, through this, we can see more of them as supportive friends of one another. Heaven knows there are bigger monsters to slay. I suppose it’s sad that they don’t have the luxury of engaging in run-of-the-mill competition and rivalry, even if this diversity workshop, because of the realities they face as diverse comics creeping in.
And isn’t that the problem in itself? With them, it’s always something else they have to concern themselves.
Similarly, with Malika, her job is a gratifying one for her. It can be a form of therapy, but it also can be a trigger. It’s crazy how something can exacerbate past traumas, and then it stops a person in their tracks.
Her project, which is devoted to a program that would provide accessible childcare to these women in need to curb things like imprisonment for unpaid parking tickets, is a fantastic thing to implement.
I served my time, but when I got out, no one would give me a job or a place to live.
She and Dyontae work well together, and those stories and accounts by the women were heavy and deep. You could tell they affected Malika — it’s a lie to say they didn’t leave an impression on anyone.
But it brought up unresolved feelings Malika had about her mother and their past. Kudos to the series for revisiting this in such an emotional way. Grief isn’t some one-note thing wrapped up in under 45 minutes in a neat bow and never addressed again.
After Malika’s time in jail and near imprisonment, it’s natural that she would think about her mother’s struggles with addiction, the criminal justice system, and taking care of them.
The ghost of her mother haunted her, and Malika’s breakdown, or shall we call it a breakthrough, with her boss was a remarkable scene. She posed an interesting question.
Why did she feel such compassion for the women she interviewed, but she never mustered up that same level of sympathy for her mother?
Part of it was probably a matter of knowledge and wisdom that comes with age and experiences. But also, being in something from one side of it leads to a different perspective.
She always thought of things from her position as a daughter who had to grow up too fast and play adult caretaker to her mother and brother while her mom’s addiction raged.
Because of Malika’s position as a child affected by her mother’s actions, it was harder for her to step outside of her anger, resentment, and hurt to consider her mother’s side.
Malika: I have all of this compassion for these women, but I never had compassion for my own mother. I had this dream that she was being shackled and taken away to Linwood instead of me.
Boss: Maybe you realized your mother is a victim of the system.
Malika: If the system actually worked, if she was able to get the help that she needed, maybe our lives would’ve been different. And maybe she would still be here today. I thought I could heal if I made other people’s lives better than the one I had.
Boss: This work can be very healing, but only if you’re honest with yourself about how much you can afford to give without burning out.
It’s a trickle-down effect. The system didn’t help and worked against Malika’s mother, and her mother failed the kids. All young Malika could see was how her mom let her down, and she never considered anything beyond her mother that did the same.
It left Malika wondering if there was a system in place that saved and helped people like her mother before things got bad in the first place — then would she and Dom have ended up in the system? Would their mother have battled addiction? Could her death have been prevented?
We’ll never know the answers to any of that, but all Malika can do is make peace with her past, forgive her mother, and do what she can to help others.
As an adult, she has realized how easily one can fall victim to the criminal justice system and how unfair it is, given her personal experiences. Unfortunately, she feels more bonded to her mother now after the woman died than she did before.
So much is brewing under the surface with Malika, and fortunately, she finally took the perceptive Dyontae up on his offer of a therapist’s phone number.
Malika needs this healing. The hour focused more on that than laying hints about the love triangle aspect of things between her, Isaac, and Dyontae.
However, it’s still not lost that she and Dyontae have a special connection. He’s very attuned to her and genuinely cares. It’s hard to ignore that, and I wonder if Malika can maintain their friendship as it gets deeper without crossing any lines.
The longer Mariana keeps vital things from the Byte Club — the more likely her friendships with them may implode. It’s unavoidable at this rate.
Mariana: I love you.
Evan: You love me.
Mariana: For wanting to help me.
Mariana: But I don’t want your help.
Her attempts to keep Rachel in the dark about her relationship with Evan were more uncomfortable than anything Rachel did as she crashed with Mariana and Callie.
For one, a lot of the juvenile secrecy could’ve been nipped in the bud if Mariana said she needed some boundaries and put an end to Rachel asking her invasive questions and tracking her every move. It isn’t any of Rachel’s business what Mariana is doing in her spare time, where she goes, and if she spends the night out.
All Mariana had to do was say that. It’s Mariana’s constant lying that makes things worse and has her digging a deeper hole for herself.
And if she presented that Rachel should rotate crashing at the other girls’ homes from the beginning, then so much could’ve been avoided.
The Byte Club is hitting the ground and trying to shop their proposal, but they aren’t getting any bites or even stepping foot in the door to make their pitch. It’s hard out there.
As tempting as Evan and Mariana’s scenes are, and they are of importance for a whole other reason, it would be nice to see more of the process of the girls’ pitch in meetings at companies.
It’s a challenging business on its own, and the Byte Club facing sexism at every turn has stacked things against them more. Evan knows this, and he’s trying to be a supportive boyfriend while respecting Marian’s boundaries.
Of course, he argued on a technicality how getting her a meeting is minor and a small way he could help without taking over or doing things for her.
His motivation for it, much like Mariana compromising the line she drew by taking it, was getting Rachel out of the Coterie so they could spend time together without sneaking around.
It’s an exasperating development, to say the least. Rachel is on the verge of moving back to the Midwest, and the other girls’ savings have run out, and they may have to take on new jobs if they don’t get some forward movement.
Yet, that’s not why Mariana caved. She did it for a selfish reason, and she’s still lying to the women, knowing how they’d feel about her involvement with Evan and his in them making a break.
It won’t feel as if they did it on their own. The fallout for this is bound to be epic when it happens.
So far, the only thing that’s thriving amid all of this is Mariana’s relationship with Evan. She even accidentally slipped and told him that she loved him. They both bumbled their way through it, but it’s going to come up again; you know it will.
On the one hand, Mariana and Evan’s relationship has blossomed out of some questionable things. All of her lying and secrecy from her friends is disturbing.
The ground for which Mariana and Evan got together, coupled with the power dynamic that was at play and, of course, the Raj bit, it’s all messy.
However, Mariana and Evan have incredible chemistry. They are a cute pairing, and some of the ways they navigate some of their issues are engrossing, while in other ways, they’re brushed past.
But it is refreshing that we’re witnessing what appears to be a happy, stable, and healthy relationship that involves a man who is on the spectrum.
Speaking of relationships, what is there to say about Callie and Jamie anymore? Good grief, it’s doubtful they’ll ever be on the same page, and regardless of how often they attempt to reduce it to politics and morals, it’s much deeper than that.
They’re two people who care about each other but keep hurting one another.
They could barely get through the negotiation for Yvonne’s sentence without making it about their issues. Callie’s level of judgment that Jamie took a job with the D.A. is unfathomable for a woman who got him fired from his previous job.
Are you going to get me fired from this job too?
Jamie [to Callie]
And his resentment and puppy dog eyes are at war with one another regularly. Yvonne got a decent deal thanks to one of Jamie’s bosses pouncing on it, but that moment did undermine Jamie, so it’s understandable why he got pissy and threw that lug at Callie.
But the awkwardness at the restaurant was the kind of juvenile that reminds us that we’re still human. It was so painstakingly cringing.
Callie wasn’t above using Tony (who would’ve thought there would be a moment of sympathizing with Tony) to make Jamie jealous.
While Tony claimed he didn’t mind, it is apparent that he likes Callie, albeit in a childish, negging, pigtail pulling kind of way.
Tony: So that guy from last night. He’s just a deputy DA that you know?
Callie: Well, he is my brother’s brother-in-law. And my ex.
Tony: So that’s why you were flirting with me?
Callie: I was not flirting with you.
Tony: I just want you to know that I’m not offended that you used me to make your ex jealous. And by the way he marched over to introduce himself, I’d say you succeeded.
But Jamie and Callie’s frosty ex thing got worse when they met for drinks. You could tell Callie thought it would go in a different direction than it did. They’re so confusing.
Callie hasn’t shown any real remorse for what she did to Jamie with her “I’m sorry, buts,” and Jamie can’t let any of it go. Perhaps, that’s why as harsh as it was, it made sense that he would tell her he didn’t know if they could be friends, but they should be cordial colleagues.
Callie’s dismay is absurd and a reminder of how little she expects her actions to change things between them.
However, Jamie opening with that, shutting down the possibility of them rekindling their romance and dashing Callie’s hopes, then transitioning into the Katheleen stuff was A Choice.
Callie: Is that all?
Jamie: No. I also wanted you to know that your new boss, Kathleen Gale, is being investigated by the FBI.
Callie: How do you know that?
Jamie: I’m in the DA’s office.
Callie: And you’re telling me this, why?
Jamie: I just want you to be aware of something you might be getting yourself into.
Callie: Or you’re trying to justify working at the DA’s office by discrediting my boss and trying to make me doubt my own judgment.
Jamie: Don’t do that! I’m just saying be careful.
Callie: My boss just save Jerod’s life. And I’m sure the DA’s office isn’t happy to have to pay for the actions of deputy gang members that they refuse to do anything about. You know what, if you really do want this to be over and amicable. Why don’t you start by not continuing to patronize me. I’m a big girl, Jamie, I can take care of myself. I definitely don’t need professional advice from you of all people.
Callie was already hurt by what he said, so naturally, she thought he had ulterior motives when he told her about the FBI investigating Kathleen.
Again, Callie’s outburst and stomping off were childish as hell, and if she genuinely does believe that Jamie is capable of these new layers of petty, vindicativeness to hurt her, then why did she ever date him?
She would’ve been irate and hurt if she figured out that Jamie knew something and didn’t warn her, so there is no winning here. However, I do wonder what Jamie was trying to get at here. Did Jamie only tell Callie to control her and tamper with her excitement over her win and working with Katheleen?
I wouldn’t believe so. However, the show has taken some confusing liberties with Jamie before whenever it suits the plot. It’s not something you can rule out.
Did he want to play Callie Protector and Keeper again and make sure she didn’t inadvertently get sucked into the investigation, too? It’s possible and true to character for both of them.
Jamie: I just want to say that I don’t want to be angry with you anymore.
Callie: I really am sorry for hurting you.
Jamie: Yeah, all of this is just, I don’t even know how we got here.
Callie: Me neither.
Jamie: And look, it seems like we are destined to keep running into each other.
Callie: It does.
Jamie: And I just want it to be over and amicable so we can both just go on with our lives. I mean, uh, I don’t really see us being friends, but I do think we can be professional.
Callie: Yeah, me too.
Was he giving her a professional courtesy to solidify the work bond he hoped they could foster as colleagues on opposite sides? Maybe.
We don’t know yet, and maybe never will, so Callie let her emotions get the better of her and flounced off instead of asking questions.
The priority should’ve been figuring out what the hell the FBI is investigating Katheleen for in the first place and milking Jamie for all the information that he has.
Maybe if Jamie found her before she and Katheleen secured that deal and settlement for Jerod, she would’ve done that, but now, Callie is a Kathleen loyalist like Tony and Rowen.
Hell, I’m a Kathleen loyalist; although, I got there before Callie did. But how could you not be after that epic takedown of those deputies?
Katheleen’s style is one of the best things about her. She knows people and perception, and she’s not above using it as a tool to the best of her abilities. It’s as ingenious as it is effective.
Katheleen having Callie do the “aw shucks, I’m still green” routine while questioning the deputies was cinema at its finest.
The two of them work so well together, and it was one of the best scenes of the hour as they slowly unraveled their case and went in for the kill.
I hope you like the preview. Ha! Wait until you see the movie.
The deputies were part of some all-white-male gang in law-enforcement who have the terrible sense to emblazon their secret society on their bodies with a freaking tattoo. And beating up on Jerod was some form of initiation for the newbies.
Why are people so gosh damn awful? It’s sickening and not the least bit surprising. Then they attempted to use the young Latino deputy conveniently left out of their little club and barbeques as their backup.
The sneak attack with the threat of leaving all of their findings and speculation up to public opinion during a socially conscious climate was a risk they couldn’t take, and now Jerod is getting charges dropped and a settlement.
The win prompted Callie to trust Kathleen in a way that she didn’t before, and it’s what Tony and Rowen were telling her the whole time. Now, she gets the magic of what Kathleen does and who she is.
And we know how Callie gets about the people she cares about, so she’ll defend Katheleen to the hilt. But from what?
You can watch Good Trouble online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.