The latest episode of the NBC dramedy “Good Girls” is being hailed by LGBTQ advocacy groups for its poignant portrayal of a young transgender person’s coming out ― an anomaly in network television.
Now in its second season, “Good Girls” follows three suburban mothers (played by Christina Hendricks, Retta and Mae Whitman) who rob a supermarket after personal circumstances push them to the brink and then must deal with the fallout. The April 21 episode, titled “Thelma and Louise,” found Annie (played by Whitman) coming to the assistance of ex-husband Gregg’s new ― but already estranged ― wife, Nancy (Sally Pressman).
Nancy, who is pregnant, gives birth to a baby boy by the episode’s conclusion. The news gives Annie and Gregg’s child, Sadie (Isaiah Stannard), the moment to tell his mother that he identifies as a boy. It’s yet to be revealed whether the character will change his name as the series progresses.
At a time when network television shows still struggle to portray transgender lives in well-rounded, nuanced ways, the “Good Girls” scene was praised by LGBTQ rights advocates and media outlets. Out magazine called it “one of the best depictions of a coming out seen on TV in recent memory.”
On Monday, Isaiah thanked “Good Girls” fans for their support on Instagram, saying he was “so proud” to be a part of the hit series.
Prior to Sunday’s episode, the character Sadie had hinted at explorations of gender identity in a number of scenes. The show’s creator, Jenna Bans, told Variety last year that she had originally written the character as a boy named Ben, but eventually opened up the role to male and female actors.
Once Isaiah had been cast, however, Bans learned that the actor identified as trans, prompting her to re-conceptualize the character completely.
“We realized we had a really great opportunity to tell a story about a character who was gender non-conforming, but at the same time not necessarily have that be what leads the story,” said Bans, who worked with GLAAD to ensure that Sadie would be portrayed thoughtfully.
“What’s most important to the character and the story we’re telling between Sadie and Annie is really about the bond between Sadie and [his] mom,” Bans told Variety. “I think what we responded to more was that the Mae Whitman character just couldn’t care less.”