Having been a huge fan of The Good Wife during its seven-season run on CBS, I was excited to hear that a spin-off, The Good Fight, would be airing almost immediately following that show’s end. I was even more excited when I learned that the show would center on Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), one of my favorite characters from the first show. The Good Fight was the first show to debut on CBS All Access, the network’s answer to the proliferation of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. This meant that, aside from the pilot, the entire show would be streamed on their All Access app.
Story-wise, The Good Fight picks up a year after the events of the The Good Wife. Diane is a partner at what has grown into a firm with eight named partners (Lockhart, Deckler, Gussman, Lee, Lyman, Gilbert, Lurie, Kagan, Tennenbaum & Associates… I’m convinced the long name was their attempt at parodying law firms). Diane tries to retire, but her retirement funds are frozen after a ponzi scheme perpetrated by her longtime friend Henry Rindell is uncovered. Henry’s daughter Maia has just passed the bar and is a junior associate at Diane’s firm. Diane, who is Maia’s godmother, brings her along when she eventually leaves to join Reddick, Boseman, & Kolstad, an all-black firm in Chicago (one of my favorite jokes of the season is when Adrian Boseman says that Diane, who is white, is their “diversity hire”). In many ways, their attempt at starting over is similar to Alicia Florrick’s situation as The Good Wife starts, where she is forced to rebuild her life following her husband’s public sex & corruption scandal.
Spinoffs can be difficult because it can sometimes be a hard task to carry over the energy and synchronicity of the old show into a new context. But The Good Fight hardly misses a beat. The cases-of-the-week continue to be interesting, and just as before, many are ripped from the headlines to give the show a fresh and relevant feel. This is true even in the pilot, where a police brutality case is brought up. Other episodes also deal with trends in clickbait “fake news,” as well as sexist/racist social media posts. The ongoing season-long arc of Maia and Diane dealing with the fallout from Henry’s ponzi scheme is also compelling, and because the season is only 10 episodes long, it forces the writers to advance that storyline more quickly and smoothly.
The acting is also top-notch. Several Good Wife characters return for another go, including Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo), Alicia’s tough-as-nails partner who ends up at Reddick/Boseman with Diane. Diane also recruits Marissa Gold (Sarah Steele), who had appeared in several episodes of the previous show, as her assistant. I actually think Marissa’s character is the most improved between the old show and the new. As a series regular, Steele is able to flesh out her character more and her charming and whip-smart nature is able to be fully realized. Diane’s husband Kurt (Gary Cole) also makes several appearances, and they appeared to make up from the fight they had at the end of Good Wife, which made me happy :). Guest stars from before include Matthew Perry as the villainous prosecutor Mike Kresteva, and the hilarious Carrie Preston as Elsbeth Tascioni, who was probably my all-time favorite character from the old show. Part of me wishes she was a series regular, but her personality and brand of humor might not be appreciated as much if she appeared on the show every week. I would love to see Julianna Margulies come back as Alicia Florrick for a guest appearance, and since his daughter is on the show, they just need to bring back Alan Cumming as Eli Gold too.
I also enjoyed the new characters brought on for this show. Rose Leslie does a fantastic job of portraying Maia’s nervousness and wide-eyed-new-girl persona during the season, but she also shows signs of growth and progress in the season finale, so it will be interesting to see the extent to which she finds her sea legs in season 2. Delroy Lindo injects energy, passion, and fun into his portrayal of Adrian Boseman. He and Diane both seem like the types of people I would love to work for had I become a lawyer. Justin Bartha plays Colin Morrello, a lawyer in the State’s Attorney’s office that has something of a romantic entanglement with Lucca. Theirs was the only plotline this season that I wasn’t a huge fan of, more because it seemed tired and not particularly interesting. At least it didn’t sink to Kalinda-and-Blake levels of weirdness.
Lastly, The Good Fight also carries on The Good Wife’s tradition of excellent music. There are several examples in my music collection of songs that I downloaded because I first heard them on The Good Wife. The new show takes this a step further. One of the songs that recurs during the season is “You Were Right About Everything,” by Erin McKeown, and that song is responsible for my current obsession with McKeown’s work. This may be the first example of a situation where I bought entire albums based off a song I heard on a TV show. “You Were Right About Everything,” especially resonated with me because it mirrored a struggle I was going through at the time I discovered the song. I’m thinking about doing a “from the vault” review of the album that song is on, We Will Become Like Birds. Regardless, McKeown’s music is definitely worth a look.
All of this adds up to a show that is absolutely a worthy successor to The Good Wife, and I can’t wait to see what bold twists and turns this show has to offer. If you were a fan of the old show, or if you simply are a nerd like me and love lawyer shows injected with politics and current events, definitely make some time for The Good Fight.