‘Good Trouble’ Showrunner Joanna Johnson Breaks Down Series Finale; Cast Reflects On Its Legacy After 5 Seasons

SPOILER ALERT! This post contains details from the series finale of Freeform’s Good Trouble.

Good Trouble has officially taken its final bow.

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The Freeform series ended Tuesday night after five seasons, concluding more than a decade of television telling the stories of the Adams-Foster family and those closest to them. In some ways, Good Trouble ended exactly how it began — with Callie and Mariana.

Maia Mitchell rejoined Cierra Ramirez one last time for the finale, in which the residents of The Coterie find out the building is being sold and they’ll all need to move out. As they gather for a final Coterie dinner and rooftop hang, everyone reminisces on all they’ve gone through together. Callie and Mariana certainly have more than their fair share of trials, tribulations, and celebrations to reflect on.

“They’ve been working together for over 10 years, since they were 17 and 19,” showrunner and executive producer Joanna Johnson told Deadline. “They grew up together, and they’re really close friends. They are like sisters. That was a really poignant goodbye for them.”

The finale also wrapped up several other storylines, including with Silas, who is finally arrested after Mariana and Joaquin catch him digging up Madison’s body thanks to a tip from Jenna. Mariana and Joaquin may have had a will they-won’t they relationship throughout the course of the season, but once things with Silas are settled, she learns Evan got his memories, and the two get back together.

Davia [Emma Hunton] keeps her lead role in the play she’s been working on this season, and she learns she’ll need to move to New York for an off-Broadway production. Alice lands the hosting gig on her ferret show. Gael’s street art is booming. Luca is still dancing and, in fact, he’s about to go on tour with none other than Olivia Rodrigo. Oh, and he realized he was meant to be with Ladle all along.

Deadline spoke with Johnson about wrapping up the series unexpectedly at the beginning of the year and reflecting on the legacy of both Good Trouble and The Fosters over the past decade. That interview is below.

But first, Deadline also asked the cast to reflect on the stories they’re most proud to have told throughout these five seasons, specifically those that didn’t involve their own characters. Here are their responses:

  • Bryan Craig aka Joaquin: “I’m really happy that in this final season we got to explore Mariana’s struggle with mental health and her seeking help with that.”

  • Booboo Stewart aka Luca: “One of the stories I was really proud to tell, that my character wasn’t in, was definitely Gael’s story. I am a huge fan of art and there’s so much in the art world that is unseen. So to be able to kind of explain that, to bring it to the larger audience, I thought was really nice. Him overcoming his fears and putting himself out there, I think is very powerful.

  • Josh Pence aka Dennis: “The story I am most proud of telling that did not directly involve Dennis would be that we cannot progress as a society until we heal our wounds. Generational trauma is very, very real. And though none of us were here for things that have occurred in the past we inherit all of that, we are living in that moment. So it is not about blaming anybody for the past, but fixing what is real right now and hearing everybody’s voice so that we understand what the entire situation is. I do think it is an amalgamation of many different storylines, it is a woven fabric of people with marginalized voices being heard. Malika’s storyline with Black Lives Matter, Mariana’s storyline as a woman in tech, and so many others. That thread is so strong throughout the show, and it brought Dennis in at times. We had a really beautiful episode at the end of Season 2, called ‘Trap Heels’ if people haven’t seen it. It’s a wonderful way to show the intersection of so many different characters with the Black Lives Matter movement and what everybody’s role needs to be.”

  • Tommy Martinez aka Gael: “One story that I am proud to tell that didn’t involve my character is Mariana seeks help and therapy. Our girl has gone through so much through these ten years, so mental health…let’s do it!”

  • Emma Hunton aka Davia: “From Season 1, I have always been so proud to be on a show that tells a story like Malika’s and especially with what she’s doing this last season with the women’s rights activists. The way that they have really taken this character’s story arc from the beginning of the show to where it is now, and the way that Zuri has played Malika the last five seasons, is just so heartbreaking and so beautiful.”

  • Sherry Cola aka Alice: “In the final season, I’m so proud that we’re telling the story of Malika. Although society isn’t rooting for her, she still finds a way to prevail.”

  • Zuri Adele aka Malika: “There are so many stories that I am proud that we tell on Good Trouble and one of the stories that I am really most proud of is Alice’s storyline. I am so proud to see how Alice is expanding in her confidence and in her career and I love seeing the representation of Asian American Pacific Islander queer women in love. That is something that I am excited to see more and more of on screens, on stages, and I’m so proud that that is part of our show.”

Both Maia Mitchell and Cierra Ramirez previously spoke with Deadline about the series coming to an end. Read those at the links above and Johnson’s interview below.

DEADLINE: When did you find out that you weren’t going to come back for Season 6, and how did it impact the production of Season 5?

JOANNA JOHNSON: We finished shooting Season 5 in June. We had delivered the series and the finale and everything really believing that we were going to get to Season 6, and I think that was the plan. Then the strikes were just incredibly bruising and then went very long. There’s a lot of financial pressures on the studios and the networks, and things just changed. And I heard in about October, I think, that our pickup wasn’t necessarily guaranteed…right before the holidays, Simran Sethi [EVP of Programming and Content Strategy, ABC Studios], who had been fighting so hard for us and deserves a huge shout out, she called me and very graciously said how sorry she was that they weren’t going to be able to produce any more episodes of Good Trouble.

We had some savings from Season 5, and I said, ‘Is there any way we could use that savings to shoot some more scenes so that we can…at least see a series finale and and a proper goodbye?’ She really went to bat for us, and they let us do it. She just said it could be as long [we] wanted it to be. It was wonderful. So then we had to just wait for Maia Mitchell to be available, because she was in a movie. We didn’t have much time to post, because it airs on Tuesday. So a couple weeks ago, we shot it for two days. I opened up the the finale that we had, and I cut some some stories that we were trying to boot and cliff on for Season 6, because it didn’t make any sense anymore. I wrote these new scenes so that we could have that last family Coterie dinner and the final scene on the roof. It was just lovely, because everybody got to come back together — our wonderful cast and our wonderful crew — and have those two days to properly say goodbye.

DEADLINE: That’s a very quick turnaround to rework that episode, especially knowing you shot most of it last summer. How did you approach that?

JOHNSON: I went in, and I cut out things that we were going to boot for the next season, because I thought it’d be bizarre. We had to resolve the Silas storyline. Then it is a little abrupt, because Alice is like, ‘We have to move out. It’s over.’ But I thought maybe simple is really the best thing, just like a dinner scene with everybody talking and seeing them all struggling with the goodbye themselves and finding out who people chose in their triangles and finding out what their plans are, what’s next. I also knew that we only had two days to shoot it. So it couldn’t be too many scenes. We had to be careful about how much we wrote. So we had to get our resolutions in pretty quickly.

DEADLINE: What was it like to reunite to film those final scenes?

JOHNSON: Oh my god. It was so emotional. I think we were all trying to keep it together. We all hadn’t seen each other in a while, so you know the minute everybody was back on [set], that was just emotional. But everyone was so grateful and happy to be there to finish it that way, to have that opportunity, and I think we all kept it together the first day. The second day, we first shot the dinner scene and then we went to the roof scene, and that’s where the tears were really flowing. We knew it was our last scene, and it was an emotional last scene. It was quite beautiful. Our girls, Callie and Mariana, Maia and Cierra, they were like, ‘Okay, we’re gonna lose it with this last bit of it.’ And they said, ‘How far you want us to go?’ And so we said, ‘Let’s do a couple where you hold back, and then after that, let it go.’ We ended up using the takes where they let it go more. But that was really emotional for those two.

DEADLINE: I’ve recently spoken with both of them about The Fosters and Good Trouble, specifically the bold stories both series told that weren’t very present on TV at the time. What are some stories you’re most proud to have told with Good Trouble?

JOANNA JOHNSON: I was really proud of the Black Lives Matter storyline in Season 1. That was around 2017. And at that time, Black Lives Matter sort of had a negative approval rating and wasn’t getting the support they needed. Even before George Floyd, I was seeing constantly in the papers, some Black man, usually, getting shot, unarmed. And I thought, ‘Well, this is an important story to tell.’ I loved telling the stories and working with Patrisse Cullors. Working with Dignity and Power Now, also, which helps families impacted by incarceration, bringing out that those facts about the rate of incarceration for people of color, and the havoc that that creates with families. Those are really, really meaningful, important stories.

I also really like I like telling stories about Jazmin [Hailie Sahar], and I liked the adoption story, co-parenting with Gael [Tommy Martinez]. I really thought that was important that we highlight and protect the rights for LGBTQ people to be parents. And I worry about the future of that, if Trump gets elected, and they come in with this ultra-conservative agenda, that they might take away people’s rights to adopt who are LGBTQ. My wife and I adopted two children. So that would be very personal, as would same sex marriage, so I worry about those things. I like celebrating the fluidity that a lot of younger people have now gender wise and also sexually. Bisexual stories with Gael — a lot of people didn’t really show characters like that.

I really enjoyed the story with Alice and the three older guys. I don’t think we see enough older people on television. I loved his coming out story so late in life. People think ‘Oh, it’s easy to come out nowadays because there’s so much acceptance.’ It really still isn’t. It’s really hard, because you don’t know how you’re going to be received. So I love those stories. In The Fosters, if course, I love the stories with Jude coming out. I love the stories about the foster care system. I love the stories about adoption. I loved seeing two moms raising children and being wonderful mothers.

DEADLINE: Speaking of fluid sexuality, Malika went through some of that in later seasons as well. In this finale, I was so happy to see things work out for her as she chooses to run for office. Can you talk me through your thought process for her journey this season? She has grown so much.

JOHNSON: She really has. She started as a community activist and community leader and decided to go into politics to get her Women’s Center financed. I think that a lot of young people, or a lot of people in general, for good reason, are turned off by politics. But the truth is, government can and has done amazing things, and we need government. We can’t be an anarchy. We can’t just have have no government. It’s important. And young people, I hope, will continue to go into government and try to make a difference because… it’s not always easy, but it’s important. One of the things I wanted to message in that dinner scene — and it’s something I would have done in Season 6 — is how important it is to vote. It does matter. Voting is a privilege, and it does matter.

DEADLINE: Do you have any ideas for future spinoffs or characters you’d like to visit in a different way?

JOHNSON: I would absolutely be open to another spin off or into exploring further as a movie. I’d love to see Jamie and Callie get married. I’d love to do that wedding. I’m totally open to it. I just don’t know if the money’s out there for it.

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