There’s nothing new about issue-based, ripped-from-the-headlines legal shows, but we live in an era where every f**king headline that can be ripped is divisive and toxic and almost always as a result of a sh*tty goddmann man and his penis, or his thirst for power, or his penis, or his greed. Or his penis. But you can’t talk about this on social media, or even follow it because there’s always someone defending the actions of that man and his penis. The world — the whole damn planet — is a giant hotbox of toxicity, and we’re all being gaslit underneath it.
That’s what is so phenomenal about CBS All Access’ The Good Fight. For an hour each week, the series confronts those issues — legal, political, cultural — and reminds us that we’re not crazy. We are right, the world is awful, and the political and justice systems are borked beyond belief, but by God, there is still one television show that is not conflicted about what is right and wrong.
“What has happened to men?” Diane Lockhart asks with a whispering Shakespearean authority in this week’s season premiere of The Good Fight. “Where did the real men go? Why do we now have these snide little creatures with slicked-back hair and cologne? What happened to Paul Newman and Burt Lancaster? What happened to men who were slow to anger and responsible and who didn’t cry like whiny little bitches? When did Trump and Kavanaugh become our idea of an aggrieved man? Quivering lips and blaming everyone but themselves?”
It’s poetry, but honestly, much of The Good Fight is, and every week it takes shots at Trump, this administration and our collective political environment, and creators Robert and Michelle King never seem to worry about pissing off the wrong people or advertiser boycotts or finding themselves in a Trump tweet. They take a stick to the man, and it feels so satisfying, even if it is entirely fiction.
The third-season premiere is a real humdinger, too. It tackles MeToo, Weinstein, and the plight of short people all at once, and every line in this series is rich, intoxicating and somehow empowering. It doesn’t get hardly any attention because it’s the also-ran series on a little-watched streaming platform, but it is the exact right show we need in 2019.
The web it weaves in the season opener is something else, too. While doing a puff piece to celebrate a civil rights icon and the firm’s founder, Lewis Reddick, the investigators discover that he also raped his secretaries. That’s problem number one, because if this gets out, the firm is toast, even though Lewis Reddick is dead, and even though this majority-black law firm does some exceptional work for a largely underserved community (it’s the only firm in Chicago willing to take on police departments in brutality cases). Problem number two is that the founder’s daughter is now a partner at the firm, and she’s finding all of this out for the first time: Her Dad was a rapist. She’s heartbroken and furious. What the hell do you do as an attorney when you’re stuck between doing what’s right for the victims, and doing what’s right for the greater good, which also happens to be what’s best for the individuals of the firm? Meanwhile, there’s a reporter snooping around, NDAs haven’t been signed, and one victim — the stenographer — refuses to take a settlement or sign an NDA, not because she wants to tell her story, but quite the opposite. “There are so many people who want to destroy men. Black men. I won’t be a part of it. I’ll never be a part of it.” Just what this story needed: More stomach-churning conflict.
Meanwhile, Diane suspects that her old-school conservative husband has been sleeping around on her because of the blond hairs she finds on his coat. But the truth is almost worse: He’s been safari hunting with Eric and Don, Jr. Ouch. So, Diane tries to redirect her anger toward a potential suit with an actress who aborted Donald Trump’s baby but signed an NDA she’s too afraid to break (this show does not f**k around, playing Trump “rumors” as real, even the pee tape, which the series devoted several episodes to last season). The capper? Kurt, Diane’s husband, is shot in the back by Don. Or Eric. We’ll never know. Because Kurt, too, was forced to sign an NDA.
Meanwhile, because every episode needs some comic relief, Marisa basically gives Maia a tutorial in how to behave as a short woman, and it involves speaking loudly and forcefully without her voice cracking, and it is splendidly funny, and perhaps an inadvertent rebuttal to a fantastic, 20-year-old scene from Ally McBeal.
Point being: There’s a lot of television right now. There are a lot of networks and streaming platforms. But this is one of the five best shows on TV right, and everyone who has the means to do so should be watching it. Did you like The Good Wife? Good. Me too. This is better. Much, much better. And it has fangs.
Header Image Source: CBS All Access