I apologize ahead of time if this review veers towards being too personal in any way.
Strike that. I thank you for reading despite this review's potential for becoming personal in any way.
As evidenced yet again with Good Trouble Season 1 Episode 4, this series has a way of resonating with its viewers for a multitude of reasons because of the characters, the situations that they find themselves in, and the rich storytelling.
The Adams-Foster women are at the helm, but the ensemble cast of this series is enjoyable as well, and what made this particular installment so fantastic was the amount of exploration of the other characters without it feeling like it was detracting from the sisters.
Davia and Alice were particular standouts during the hour. The beautiful friendship between Alice and Malika and their backstory was sweet, and at no point did it dawn on me nor did I miss the fact that their moments didn't involve either of the series' leads at all.
Raj was another character who I feel that I understand more than before, and there was some insight on Wilson and Ben as well.
Not everybody is so sensitive. If you want to be a part of the team, you gotta be able to take a joke.Alex
This hour also felt more balanced as far as furthering the two sisters' storylines. For those of you who feared Callie's arc was more dominant in the series, during this installment, Mariana had the strongest arc.
Oh, my darling Mariana. She's a fierce force of nature, so the workplace harassment is difficult for her since she is not the person who bites her tongue or takes anyone else's shit lying down. It's not in her nature, so the most intriguing part of her experience at Speckulate is how she dulled her sparkle.
She has changed her appearance to downplay her femininity and personality; she ignores much of the sexual and racial harassment, and she's trying to keep her head down. She has also taken to not doing much work anymore and spending her nights partying until she rolls out of bed a couple of hours later to repeat it.
She was bound to snap, which was exciting, but she was also destined to get a reality check, which was disheartening, real, and all too familiar. The combination of Alex and Sam's harassment of her and Raj getting progressively worse and that damn diversity interview would have sent me over the edge too.
It was apparent where it was heading well before Mariana got a visual of what was happening for herself.
Anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of the diversity pony show knows the deal instantaneously. I was living for Mariana's facial expressions as it hit her why Angela was all smiles and requesting (just kidding, subtly demanding) that Mariana do the interview and be there for a photo-op.
Speckulate was able to round up every woman and minority in the joint, a couple of handfuls, tops, for this "diverse-friendly" ruse that they were trying to sell.
Not only is diversity a crucial point that most companies, especially in diverse cities, are compelled to pitch to the masses for the image, but there has been an ongoing drive for well over a decade to get more women and ethnic minorities into STEM.
Most of our engineering staff are white guys but who do they cherry pick to put on the front page? A handful of women and people of color.Mariana
I know this because as a child and teen, I was part of a specific program designed to expose women and minorities to engineering and similar fields. I spent many summers at colleges taking courses and such while everyone I knew was out playing and having fun.
I remember how glaringly white and male it was on campuses when it came to those specific fields. I also remember the photo-ops. Although, that was something I was familiar with in the majority of my educational and work experience anyway.
From middle school to high school, to college, to graduate school and everything between and after, I was quite literally a poster child for diversity as a non-white woman in predominantly white (and at times predominately male) spaces all of the time.
I have physically lost count of the interviews and magazine excerpts, quotes, pictures, ads, and more. It was always transparent when the majority of questions related to diversity and other buzzwords.
Also, there was the strategic placement of you, front and center and smiling, always smiling, in group shots for advertisements used to convince people that the environment is diverse, which may or may not be true and that it's a safe diversity devoid of issues, which rarely was true.
Mariana's statement about being bamboozled made me laugh, albeit humorlessly. I wanted to wedge myself between this potential couple and hold their hands in solidarity while Mariana and Raj commiserated over their experiences at work and in life in general. It was one of the best moments of the hour.
Mariana: Why do you laugh?
Raj: To make them feel more comfortable with me being different than them and to prove I'm not too sensitive.
Mariana: Why do we make them comfortable when we're the ones getting hurt?
Raj: To get ahead. We have to fit in to succeed.
As suspected, Raj is a decent guy in a similar position as Mariana. Before she came along, he was probably the butt of their jokes too. There is nothing Alex doesn't do at this point that doesn't make me cringe or angry.
When he reprogrammed the text so that whatever Mariana texted would be something sexual about Raj, it was another level of sexual harassment and his constant reference to Mariana as "Mary Anna" was the subtle type of racism that those who aren't knowledgeable would dismiss.
However, Alex faking an Indian accent to mock Raj and calling him Pakastani when he isn't is blatant racism.
Alex's behavior isn't going away; it's escalating. It's constant too. How long should one be subjected to that before anyone does something about it? I'm not unconvinced that Angela isn't aware of some of the things happening, and based on what Casey said, it's an issue that the company is inclined to dismiss rather than address.
Mariana's predicament was interesting because if this were The Fosters, she would have gripped that seat, stood her ground and told the truth about Speckulate. However, this isn't The Fosters, and moms aren't there to hug her after she takes her moral stand, and the reality is that she needs her job and this is real life.
Admittedly, I even got swept up in the idealism of it all when Mariana was ready to march in and take a stand. But Raj and Casey were right. They don't have to like it; they loathe it, but at the moment, they are not in the position to make any real changes just yet.
Raj should be more vocal when the guys harass Mariana, and Casey should be more empathetic when Mariana is venting, but they are stuck in shitty positions and are not wrong either. Life comes at you fast.
Am I frustrated that I have to work twice as hard to get half as far as white men? Hell yeah, but blowing up your career is not going to change the culture around here, Mariana. You can vent to me anytime, but I would hate for us to lose another talented Latina engineerCasey
I appreciated the more realistic and grounded approach to addressing the issue.
It captured how people like Mariana and Raj who are proud of who they are even as adults have to play the game of being a social chameleon -- how despite the daily harassment and discrimination, prioritizing the comfort of the Alex's over their discomfort is as natural and routine as breathing.
I liked how the series showed that it's not about being defeated and giving in. It's just life, and reality and the adapt or die instinct that you're born with or taught. Because in the end, Raj, Mariana, and Casey's experiences aren't extraordinary, unexpected, or rare.
In the real world, that's just a freaking Tuesday.
It's what keeps Raj laughing at poor and offensive imitations of Indian accents. It's what keeps Casey in hoodies, and Mariana caving in and lying, and it's what kept me smiling. Such is life.
Mariana has a genuine connection with Raj now, which is great; Raj is likable the more we know about him. It was crushing when he showed up to the bar thinking he and Mariana would be having drinks alone only to find out that she was with her friends and scoping out guys she wanted to bang.
I understood why Raj thought it could be a date, and he's not entitled to Mariana's affections, but she could have given him a heads up that it would be a group thing. He is crushing hard on her right now, and he ended up in another situation where he felt like the odd-man out. Ouch.
Callie was in an awkward situation as well with Wilson's BBQ. What the heck was that, and what's with the (not-so-flowery) flower in the attic (or rather the upstairs bedroom)?
Mariana: I thought after school we would be done with all of that. I thought it'd be different in the workplace.
Raj: Me too.
Mariana: Alex and Sam are lucky they can just be themselves. As a woman, I can't even wear a dress to work because people won't take me seriously.
Raj: Well, I take you seriously, and the next time we go out as a team, you're coming with.
Mariana: Honestly, I really don't want to hang out socially with Alex or Sam.
Raj: Honestly, me either.
Mariana: Well maybe we can just get a drink one night.
Everything was as expected. It was not surprising that Rebecca and Ben lied about not bringing anything only to bring something and make Callie look bad. Although, isn't it universally accepted knowledge to bring something in scenarios like that? Callie, come on girl!
Wilson using his little dinner as a tradition where he plays a game to test his clerks, that wasn't a surprise either. He's such a dork, and you can never say that man isn't passionate about his career and law.
He's not above testing them, so it's shocking that Ben was so eager to earn favors that he didn't consider that Mrs. Wilson was setting all of them up for a trap.
Wilson wanted to know if any of them would jump at the information about which case he was referencing and use it to win without honor. Ben not only failed the test, but he didn't realize it was a test and questioned Wilson.
Ben and Rebecca are both guilty of being opportunistic and kissing up to Wilson by any means necessary, but Ben is the most opportunistic of them all, and it's to a fault.
It should make him an unlikable person, but more than anything, I feel bad for him. Ben may have gone to an Ivy League school, but he makes it known that he had to fight to get there, and he may not come from means and opportunity like Rebecca.
That may be why he has an unusual kinship with Callie, even though he's also a shit-stirrer. It's as though he's in constant fear of not getting ahead, and he will try to get ahead by any means necessary.
Ben: Some of us weren't born with a trust fund.
Rebecca: how do you know I have a trust fund.
Callie: You don't?
There is something desperate about it; he wants to get into the best law firms in the country so he can get rich. Ben must have started from the bottom like nobody's business, and he doesn't want to end up there ever again.
That's why it's hard to say what he will do with this new information. Callie flat out lied about not knowing Malika, which makes it worse now that he knows the truth. She looks guilty even though she didn't do anything wrong yet.
Ben has a fondness for Callie, but it's not cemented to the point of him covering for her. Was anyone else nearly yelling at the scene where he walked her home?
Between leaving her gosh damn phone everywhere and letting the colleague who had doubts walk her home where he could (and did) run into Malika, Callie has to do better than this!
Malika being her housemate is not something that she would have been able to keep secret for long though, so it had to come out at some point. It's too bad she wasn't the one to speak the truth about it.
It was the most shocking part of the hour, and it's the biggest cliffhanger. What the heck will Ben do?
The BBQ also left us with some weird feelings about Wilson. He was sweet, casual, and adorable with his wife. Things were going well until they stumped him with the game. In all of his years of having clerks over, no one had ever stumped him.
I can't say that your choice was terribly clever or completely legitimate, but I'll concede defeat. Thanks, guys for coming. I know you have work to do seeing as you're all behind on your casework. See that you're caught up by Monday.Wilson
He didn't take it well when they beat him at his game and contested the use of Hulk Hogan even though he conceded to defeat. He also was not a fan of Ben bragging (although, that could have been due to Ben being the one to cheat). The shift in his mood gave them whiplash.
What's with him lying about his son though? Why is he hiding the fact that his son is on house arrest? What if the reason Wilson has a soft spot for Callie is due to her reminding him of his son or maybe helping him understand his son better?
Wilson is proud of his daughter and her trajectory, but maybe he's embarrassed about his son not following suit with him and his daughter. Hell, maybe he has different viewpoints than his father as well.
There was some tension between them when he came down the stairs and asked if the clerks were gone. It was like he was annoyed that he had to hide away while they were there and maybe he feels his father likes the clerks more than him and is embarrassed by him. I don't know, but it's strange.
Finally, we got some Davia screentime and background, and my heart hurts for her too. I had a feeling that she knew Jeff was married before Mariana brought it up.
Mariana maybe should have considered asking Bryan about it instead of Callie, since she's going to be friends with him and everything. I like Bryan, but damn that guy is messy. He cannot stop trying to get into Callie's business nor making catty remarks about her. He has it so bad for Gael.
All of my friends at home are married and a few of them are the good kind of pregnant. On purpose. I just don't know what I'm doing here.Davia
Jeff seemed OK until he didn't. Davia is his mistress, and he has no plans leaving his wife. It sucks that Davia is in this position.
She's at the age where some of her friends are established and getting pregnant (on purpose!), and the others are still riding high on the teenage/young adulthood life. She yearns to settle down too and maybe start a family and find a fulfilling job that doesn't drain her as her teaching job does.
Her heartbreak when she realized that she could never do that with Jeff was a crushing blow. I loved the scene where she fought back her tears as he fed her bullcrap and left. Davia deserves someone who can love her out loud. Davia is a beautiful full-figured woman, and she got some super sexy scenes of her own, which is so damn refreshing.
Now she needs someone who can appreciate her; she needs a guy who can be hers alone. She doesn't deserve to be someone's mistress or waiting for Jeff to squeeze her in on his business trips. She claimed they were only friends with benefits, but her feelings for him were real.
As for Alice, I love her so much. Alice is such a kindred spirit, and she was beyond relatable during this installment.
For years I used to imagine investing in one of the older but huge and beautiful houses near a few of the local colleges. I imagined renting the rooms out and yes, thinking about it now, I envisioned playing den mom in a communal living space.
Alice is a reminder of how awful that may have been. She's sweet and soft-spoken and nice to her detriment. She's way too accommodating, and the others tend to take her for granted or walk all over her.
You guys, when I tell you Alice is my person, I am not kidding. Right down to having a breakdown over getting stuck doing bathroom duty because no one else would do it and always ending up in the bathroom with no tissue because no one else will put a freaking roll on the holder.
Alice needed to assert herself and lay down the law, and she made an effort and did the best that she could in the end. She couldn't even chastise anyone without offering them snacks afterward.
The friendship between Malika and Alice was one of the best parts of the hour. Their background was enough to get you misty-eyed. Alice gave up her apartment so that she and Malika could move in together so Malika wouldn't be sleeping in her car.
Malika: You gotta stop letting people take advantage of you.
Alice: I have commitments ...
Malika: You are not the Mother Teresa of ass wiping. You don't have to give people free toilet paper or plan Sumi's stupid wedding, OK? Sometimes you gotta break your commitments to take care of yourself, Alice.
They aren't friends; they're family.
Malika is the type of friend that someone like Alice needs because she encourages her to stick up for herself, speak up, and take care of herself too. If only she can stay on Alice so that she'll abandon this wedding thing.
Sumi is such a self-absorbed individual, and if she loved Alice the way she claims, then she wouldn't put Alice through this heartache and pain. In this fandom, we protect Alice at all cost, so Sumi and Meera need to take their wedding and shove it.
Sadly, Alice will probably continue to suffer silently until she eventually reaches her breaking point and explodes. It will be cathartic when it happens, but until then, ugh.
Over to you, Good Trouble Fanatics. Will Ben spill the beans about Callie and Malika's connection? What did you make of the strange things happening at the Wilson BBQ?
Which storyline did you find the most gripping during this installment? Do you feel like you understand Raj, Casey, Davia, Alice, Ben, and Wilson more?
Which character is the most relatable for you? Hit the comments below with your thoughts, reactions, and experiences!
You can watch Good Trouble online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.