Sherry Cola says 'Good Trouble' is not about issues but about the real people going through them
Cola believes the nuanced handling of layered characters has helped 'Good Trouble' become a class apart, amid its contemporaries
Freeform's 'Good Trouble' is in its sophomore year and is now tackling more social and individual issues than it did in its previous season. As a spin-off of the young adult drama, 'The Fosters', 'Good Trouble' focuses not only on Callie (Maia Mitchell) and Mariana Fosters' (Cierra Ramirez) lives but also on those living with them in an apartment building called The Coterie. And no discussion on The Coterie could ever be complete without its manager, Alice Kwan.
Played by the talented Sherry Cola, Alice is a first-generation Asian-American lesbian, who recently went all the way with an elaborate coming-out-of-the-closet gesture. And as radical as her attempt at being accepted by her parents while simultaneously winning over her romantic interest, Joey (Daisy Eagan), might look like, it is also to be noted that such a specific non-binary character hasn't been explored on the screen before; something Cola personally enjoyed as a challenge.
"When I first saw the description of the character before even going in for the audition, I was so touched that someone actually wants to see verbatim a first-generation Asian-American lesbian who's not out to her parents," Cola said in an exclusive interview with MEA Worldwide (MEAWW). "That someone wrote this specific character because they want to see it like that meant a lot to me, because someone like Alice was missing from my TV screen when I was growing up. Her character is such a specific, tender point of view that I feel is extremely not prioritized. That was the most exciting thing for me - to be able to portray someone who has not exactly been put first and when it comes to storytelling in American TV."
Alice was the stereotypical closeted gay person who needed the extra push from a new romantic interest, Joey, to announce in the open, her reality. But there is also the deep infested issue of her having lived an impermeable lie so far to fit into her family's ideals. Even after she comes out to her parents in the big emotional scene from season 1's finale, supportive as they are of their daughter's sexuality, they still want her to be gay in private, so to speak.
But once she decides to make the most adorable coming out video, filming her walking around the city, announcing to random people she is gay in an attempt to win Joey's affections back, things inevitably change. She admits being out is relieving and makes her happy, but she is so accustomed to living the secret life, she is hesitant about changing her pronouns to they/them.
It is this nuanced handling of layered characters, that Cola believes has helped 'Good Trouble' become a class apart amid its contemporaries; both in terms of exploring specific minorities, and in terms of portraying a variety of people with vastly different issues. "I think 'Good Trouble' and Freeform really put inclusivity first," Cola reflects on the show's wide variety of characters, all polarized and different from each other, but blending in together to create the perfect concoction. "I think the goal is to make sure that everyone watching this TV show feels seen. Joey comes out as non-binary and wants to change their pronouns, which is a personal aspect for a lot of people, and yet they don't see on the TV that much. This is the third person ever on TV that is non-binary."
But that's not where the show's inclusivity stops. "We have Gael's sister, who is a trans woman, and we also have an episode coming up where we talk about trans people in the military. But in a natural way, I think the thing about 'Good trouble' is that as much as there are social issues and things like that we touch on, it's not a show about issues," Cola stated. "It's about real people who happen to be going through these issues. So when you watch 'Good Trouble', you really see real people. It's wrong. It's messy. It's not perfect, but you somehow root for these characters and that's when a TV show is really successful, and that's why it resonates with so many people. Because you root for everyone, despite the flaws."
Having just premiered with its second season, which arrived shortly after the season 1 finale, fans of the show are already curious about a third season of the spin-off. And while Cola expertly evaded spoiling any bit of the season, she did quip "I know nothing, just pray for me" when we asked her about updates on season 3. So here's praying we get to see more of these amazing, nuanced stories told with such brilliant execution!
'Good Trouble' airs Mondays at 9 p.m., only on Freeform.