While streaming services and cable networks have over the past several years begun to cast transgender people in trans roles in shows including Transparent, Pose, The Fosters, Shameless, Supergirl, and Orange Is the New Black, network television has been slow to tell trans stories. NBC’s Good Girls, which stars Christina Hendricks, Retta, and Mae Whitman as mothers pushed to the brink to commit theft, aired a trans coming-out story Sunday that was heartwarming and also revolutionary for one of the big three networks.
The show’s freshman season hinted at Whitman’s character Annie’s child Sadie (Isaiah Stannard) exploring their gender. But on Sunday’s episode, when it’s revealed that Annie’s ex-husband (Sadie’s dad) had a baby boy with his new wife, Sadie takes the opportunity to tell his mom he’s a boy.
“It’s a boy,” Annie tells Sadie about the birth of his baby brother. After a beat Sadie replies, “So am I.”
In the tender moments that follow, Annie climbs in bed beside her child and asks if he’s OK before adding, “I always wanted a boy.”
Stannard’s casting as Sadie influenced the direction the character would take, Good Girls creator Jenna Bans said last year. While Bans was unaware that Stannard was trans when he was hired, he was out by the first day of filming.
“We realized we had a really great opportunity to tell a story about a character who was gender-nonconforming, but at the same time not necessarily have that be what leads the story,” Bans said.
“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. We liked the idea that the character of Sadie was exploring [his] gender [expression] in the show, but I think what we responded to more was that the Mae Whitman character just couldn’t care less,” Bans added at the time.
Shows on streaming and cable including One Day at a Time, The Fosters, Faking It, and Better Things have all introduced trans or nonbinary young people. Previously, the short-lived Roseanne reboot was perhaps the first to introduce a gender-nonconforming adolescent or teen on a major network show. Still, Stannard's being trans and playing trans on NBC is history-making.
Watch the Good Girls coming-out scene below.