NBC's New Feminist Show 'Good Girls' Is Even More Progressive Than It Looks

Justin Lubin/NBC

Spoilers ahead for Season 1 Episode 1 of Good Girls.

Christina Hendricks, Mae Whitman, and Retta star as Beth, Annie, and Ruby in NBC's new series Good Girls. But the premiere episode proves there's another character in the cast who deserves your attention. Annie's daughter Sadie on Good Girls (played by newcomer Izzy Stannard) is figuring out her gender identity, and it's going to be interesting to see how her character develops as the series progresses.

Sadie isn't identified as being transgender or non-binary and her parents refer to her using female pronouns (following their lead, this article will also use female pronouns for the character). But Sadie dresses in clothes that are traditionally associated with males. As her mom says, she "enjoys a jaunty bowtie." But while Annie is supportive of Sadie, Sadie's father Greg — who is Annie's ex — thinks that their daughter needs therapy. "She doesn't need therapy, she's figuring out who she is," Annie says in fierce defense of Sadie. From this brief scene in the pilot, it seems that Greg's stance comes more from wanting his kid to be accepted and not bullied rather than intolerance. But it still goes to show that Annie is the far more accepting parent despite her other flaws. That fact will continue to be important to the plot as Greg plans to sue Annie for custody of Sadie, who they had when they were teenagers.

Justin Lubin/NBC

Only a handful of TV shows — like Degrassi, The Fosters, and Gleehave depicted teenagers figuring out their gender identities, and in all those cases, the characters were trans. But Good Girls so far hasn't explained how Sadie chooses to identify — and perhaps Sadie does not yet know herself. But how Sadie identifies isn't really the point. Instead, it's that Sadie shouldn't be forced into one identity or another — and it's incredibly refreshing to see that her mom respects that and trusts her judgment.

"Now that her kid's old enough to be taking care of herself, Annie's having to face all of her decisions and face herself as a person, not just as a mom,” Whitman told Channel Guide Magazine. "It's fun to be able to see that switch, that whenever Sadie needs something, Annie really flips it on and becomes way responsible and strong." So Annie will most likely continue to be a strong advocate for Sadie.

Justin Lubin/NBC

As for the actor who portrays Sadie, Stannard uses male pronouns in his bio on NBC's website for Good Girls. Before the TV show, he appeared in the short film Party Dress, which was recognized by Glamour and Girlgaze's #NewView film competition. As Party Dress writer and director Molly Fisher explained to Glamour, the movie is about a tomboy who attends a party in a pink dress. In the five-minute film, Stannard's character struggles to connect with not only the girls at the party, but also the boys who are skateboarding in a parking lot.

For a show that's grounded in women taking control of their lives, Sadie's story line on Good Girls furthers that message, no matter her gender identity. While it's not clear if Sadie views herself as female, everyone should have agency over their own lives. As her mom tries to break out of her rut and obtain financial freedom for them both (albeit in a highly criminal and highly idiotic way), Sadie is living her life true to who she is. With this confidence of self, Sadie is far more mature than her mom. So to see Sadie be forced into a box by her father would be a tragic — yet, all too realistic — direction for the character. But as Good Girls continues, it seems safe to say that Sadie will always have Annie in her corner... just as long as her mom doesn't end up in jail.