Courtesy of CBS All Access

March 7, 2018

Fighting The Good Fight in Trump’s America

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The stakes are real and authentic in The Good Fight on CBS All Access. This rawness is visible in the show’s opening sequence, which intersplices explosions of luxury items like aged Scotch and Birkin bags with footage of top news stories, including Trump’s criticizing the media and the rally in Charlottesville. The show’s connection to current America is even deeper than just these references. Each episode is give the title “Day XXX,” which represents the number of days Trump has been in office as each episode airs.

This show does not attempt to escape or shy away from reality as some other shows do, but rather embraces the uneasiness and division within the real world. Politics plays just as vital a role as the main characters in moving the plot forward. This show mainly follows three female leads with totally different perspectives: Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) and Maia Rindell (Rose Leslie).

Diane is a lawyer and a fierce supporter of women’s rights for many years. At the start of the show, she was poised to retire to France but is forced to find a new job after losing all her money in a Madoff-esque ponzi scheme concocted by Maia’s father. Maia is Diane’s goddaughter and her parents were billion dollar hedge fund managers (pre-ponzi scheme). Now, she is trying to balance her family’s scandal, life with her girlfriend and a new career. Both Diane and Maia find work at an all-black law firm called Reddick and Boseman. Lucca is an associate at that same firm who acts as a mentor and lawyer to Maia.

The first episode of the second season opens at the funeral for famed Civil Rights lawyer and name partner Carl Reddick (Louis Gossett Jr.). His daughter Liz Reddick (played by Broadway star Audra McDonald) quits her job as United States Attorney because she was admonished for tweeting that Trump is racist. During Carl Reddick’s eulogy, another lawyer says he was “born when Nazis were marching in the streets and died when Nazis were marching in the streets.” The show continues to remind the viewers that the stakes are real, especially for minorities.

At the close of the last season, Maia’s father, Henry (Paul Guilfoyle), evaded prison, which caused Maia to be arrested. This season, she is out on bail with a tracking device and an impending trial date. Guest star Jane Lynch plays antagonistic FBI agent Madeleine Starkey, who hopes to catch Maia in a lie and find Henry. At the funeral, Starkey presents Maia with a picture of a woman supposedly helping her father withdraw money from an account in Abu Dhabi and also a taped conversation between Maia’s father and a woman laden with sexual content. Maia’s memory is triggered and we see her remember flashes of this woman as her tennis instructor. She remembers her in part because she was attracted to her, but now sees that she missed the fact her father was having an affair with this woman. Starkey tells Maia that if she helps the FBI find her father she will not face trial.

One of the scenes that shows what The Good Fight does best is when the Lucca and the firm’s private investigator, Jay (Nyambi Nyambi), show Maia how the recording she heard of her father was faked. They demonstrate how voices can be manipulated showing her the same sexually explicit dialogue, except with the voices of Maia’s father, President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Jay reminds Maia and the viewer that new technology exists that allow conversations to be manipulated. He pointedly says “mistrust everything.” This warning about the dangers of technology is ever-present in the show and also transfers to fears of the world around us.

Diane Lockhart had previously embodied “the good fight” by first being the name partner at her old firm, then by bravely facing her setbacks and finding a new firm. But she has seen so much loss in her own world she is seemingly unraveling and numb to new developments in this second season. At the end of the funeral, as she retreats to the back of a town car after micro-dosing on mushrooms, she stares into the stars with a sense of wonder. In this moment, Diane seems to take on a different persona: one that cares less and isn’t as enraged. This shift should make for an interesting new season and fresh character arc.

The Good Fight embraces rich storytelling in a way that many shows do not, making the conscious choice to elevate the narratives of highly successful women in the legal field. These stories just so happen to also be the stories of those who are often demeaned: a woman of color and a gay woman, for example. These multifaceted characters are uplifted and allowed to be different and utterly flawed, thanks to witty dialogue. It makes me hopeful to see new television shows that are not afraid to acknowledge the world in which we live. Our current political climate demands that people engage in conversation and this show helps start it.

Ashley Davila is a junior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She can be reached at [email protected]