When Donald Trump ascended to the White House in 2017, the creators of CBS’s “The Good Fight” found themselves unable to continue its feel-good vision of an “optimistic” second season. “The current administration was infecting so much of the culture, it felt like people were tired of it,” creators Robert and Michelle King told Variety.
And so, they let it infect the show as well.
A flagship of CBS All Access (now named Paramount+), the network’s foray into premium streaming service, the show is an exceptional presence in the American television industry. Blending gripping legal melodrama with the Kings’ trenchant style of unsparing satire of American politics, “The Good Fight” takes the exhaustion and fatigue that came with the Trump presidency and transforms moments of outrage and confusion into tidbits of drama that are equal parts provoking, informing and entertaining.
A spinoff of the seminal “The Good Wife,” the show features Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart, a veteran Hillary-Clinton-Democratic lawyer forced to come out of retirement after falling prey to a damaging Ponzi scheme. To restart her career, she joins a Black firm in Chicago who offered her a “diversity hire” as a junior partner. Baranski is paired with a strong ensemble cast of exquisitely built, individualized characters: from Marissa Gold (Sarah Steele), the unorthodox assistant to Diane, to Felix Staples (John Cameron Mitchell), the flamboyant alt-right troll made out of the exact mold of Milo Yiannopoulos. At every turn, the show out-trolls the trolls.
With its absurdist satire, the storyline is doused in issues of racial justice, civil rights and most importantly, the remarkable realities of Trumpism. Incorporating virtually every public scandal of the Trump presidency ranging from the pee tape to the nominated judge who struggled to define the Younger abstention doctrine, nothing is small enough to escape the Kings’ creative spin. The result: a fictional legal procedural so informed by the times, and so radically creative compared to its peers of “Suits” or even its predecessor “The Good Wife,” that one’s knowledge of the news is rewarded with indelible viewing pleasures.
The second season’s “Day 485” (this season’s episodes are named chronologically based on Trump presidency days) sees “The Good Fight” at one of its most riveting points. With a tone of immigration justice, the show seeks to expose the failures of the justice system with its satire. The firm maneuvers between federal courts and state courts in a last-ditch effort to save its investigator Jay Dipersia (Nyambi Nyambi) from being deported by ICE. In this eclectic, hour-long episode, we see in procession marshals caught between allegiances, Trump-appointed judges, sprawling bureaucracy and scheming ICE agents who insist on the virtue of “just following the law.”
Played alongside a brilliant soundtrack by David Buckley, even the show’s provocative opening credits are some of the best I have seen in terms of creativity and aesthetics. It shows, literally, the explosion of a litany of office appliances, vases, Chanel bags, glasses and symbols of justice. This coy storytelling and hinting are a common thread throughout the show—an attention to detail and symbolism has proved to serve the show well.
A dynamic work applying postmodern satire to a “post-truth” era, “The Good Fight” is in many ways encapsulated by its thrilling opening credits. Decimating the old to bits and pieces, this latest installment in Trump-era entertainment wants you to embrace the hidden gems on this tumultuous ride.
“The Good Fight” (Seasons 1 to 5) streams on Paramount+.