Malika definitely has no shortage of love interests on Good Trouble. The activist started out Season 3B by entering into a polyamorous relationship with Dyonte (and his primary partner Tanya), and this Wednesday (Freeform, 10/9c), Malika finds herself on what might be a date with her female colleague Angelica.
“That’s something that is really exciting to explore,” star Zuri Adele says of Malika’s unexpected connection with Angelica. “It’s something that I know I needed and wanted to see on television, and I’m really glad to be a vessel for that, for those who need to see it now… this exploration without needing to know how that means I label myself or what that means society or my family or my communities will label me. That’s something that I’m really excited that we’re normalizing.”
Below, Adele previews what draws Malika to Angelica and urges viewers to give her character’s poly relationship a chance.
TVLINE | We’ve seen poly relationships explored on TV in unscripted shows on TLC, but not so much in scripted dramas and not in a very serious way. How did you feel when this storyline was first presented to you by the writers?
I was really excited about it. What I love about Good Trouble is that it explores these lives of millennials in a way that sort of rejects labels and living conventional lives. So it feels like the perfect platform. And like you said, we haven’t seen polyamory explored in a way that’s not stigmatizing or fetishizing or making this the center of a joke. This is a way that’s really grounded in authenticity. I’m excited for us to get a Black millennial perspective on polyamory. Once our showrunner told me about it, I just got really excited to learn more. I also love that Malika is new to polyamory, which was really exciting because I’m also new to polyamory. I’m still learning so much about polyamory, so there wasn’t the pressure of portraying a character who has been practicing polyamory. I get to learn alongside of Malika, which is really exciting, and we have some really great experts who contribute to our writers’ room, and it feels great to be doing so in an honest way.
TVLINE | I think some viewers are having a hard time wrapping their heads around polyamory, and maybe were very attached to the Malika and Isaac relationship. What would you say to those viewers who are having a hard time understanding this storyline?
I would say what I love that Malika is doing, and that I hope that our audience can do, is just surrender and flow with it, and not need to know how it’s going to end. Just enjoy the ride. We’ve seen so much of Malika’s work in her activism life. We’ve seen her work through her trauma through her childhood, and now she’s exploring some really new and unconventional dynamics in her romantic life. And all of the things that the audience loved about Isaac, loved about maybe a little more structure in her romantic life, this will serve that. This is Malika finding more and more of her liberation and her authenticity so that she can show up fully in everything she’s already committed to.
Isaac and Malika started off a little bit rocky, in the sense that they had different perspectives about activism, and then also they really needed to address colorism in Isaac’s dating pattern. So the audience was, at first, maybe a little skeptical [about] that and ended up falling in love with the relationship and the work that they put into showing up for each other in a really self-aware way. So I would encourage them to do the same this time around because Dyonte and Malika have really beautiful chemistry. They’re learning a lot from one another, and practicing polyamory has been really liberating for Malika. That liberation is showing up in every aspect of her life, particularly her work life.
TVLINE | A new coworker has come into the picture at the bar. How does Malika feel about this other woman and her own sexuality?
It’s really exciting. Again, what I do love is the release of the sort of boxes and labels. That’s what I love about Good Trouble, and what I love about our generation as millennials, and Malika’s really diving into that. She’s experiencing a really exciting and new connection with a coworker at the bar. Malika has not dated a woman before. As far as we know, she hasn’t identified as queer in any way before. She’s been identifying as straight. So this is a really great, fun, new chapter for her, where she is just releasing all of the labels on her life and all of the binaries and receiving a lot of love. She’s being courted a lot in each of her spaces, and by amazing people, people who inspire her in different ways. I love that she’s giving herself permission to lean into that, because that’s something that’s really needed to be seen on TV. For so long, I think many millennials, we want to live up to our parents’ expectations or society’s expectations, and I love that our generation is just now starting to release that. We’re starting to ask ourselves, “What is the life that liberates me and excites me?” and Malika’s leaning into her curiosity, without needing to know what’s next, and that’s definitely showing up in this new romantic connection at the bar.
TVLINE | What’s interesting to me about that attraction is that it’s between Malika and Angelica, and not between Malika and Tanya, who also seem to have a lot of mutual admiration and respect for each other. So what is it that draws her specifically to Angelica? And do you think she is also drawn in that same way to Tanya?
There was some talk at first about possibly starting a romantic connection between Tanya and Malik as well. Perhaps that will be explored. What was decided is Malika’s really in this space of also being her own primary partner rather than sort of joining a dynamic that’s already been established. So she’s also establishing her own space.
What her coworker is bringing to the table at the bar is more fun energy, because the bar used to be this place of a side hustle, like “I’ve got to pay my bills. I’m here. I’m tired. I really want to be at DPN, but that’s not paying me.” Now this character is bringing this energy of, “This place can be fun.” There’s something that’s just really fun and light about her. She’s just so free, she’s laughing. There’s a really refreshing energy there. Because her connection to Dyonte, as beautiful and fun and refreshing as that is, it’s also connected to her work in the activism space, which can also be heavy, and not just like emotionally heavy. It’s just a place where she takes her work and herself really seriously. So the bar is already a place where Malika can sort of put that hat down for a little bit. So anybody who she’s connecting to in that space, she might have a little more lightheartedness, sort of like she did with Isaac because she met him at the bar. So she’s bringing out something really fun and a lot of curiosity in Malika.