Like its predecessor, The Good Fight has embraced current events and used them to drive the show's stories. In "Stoppable: Requiem for an Airdate," however, The Good Fight opted to rip from the headlines about a show that belongs to a franchise that is known for ripping from the headlines for its own stories.
And the result was just a teensy, tiny bit weird.
For some context, in case you missed all of this: over at NBC, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit wrote and shot an episode centered around a politician whose campaign collapses following allegations of sexual assault. It was inspired by then-candidate, now-President Donald Trump's scramble to recover from the Access Hollywood recordings in which he discussed his strategies for getting women to sleep with him, including taking them furniture shopping and/or committing sexual assault.
The SVU episode, titled "Unstoppable," was announced Oct. 11 of last year, and was set to air on Oct. 26, before it was removed from the schedule. Then the episode was slated for Nov. 16, after the election, but was yanked again, this time because NBC didn't want the episode to compete with Game 7 of the World Series. Since then, it has never been put back on the schedule, and only the people who worked on the episode know what's in it.
Enter The Good Fight, and its not-so-thinly veiled rebukes of NBC's refusal to air the episode (just compare the episode titles, folks). Here, a writer for "one of those Chicago shows" has released a cut of an episode that is about President Trump in the same way that the SVU episode was about him. Heck, this episode even started with the Law & Order interstitial card of location, date and time just to really drive everything home. With the episode online, the unnamed network files litigation against the writer, and we're off and running.
Oh, and Gary Cole, who plays Kurt on The Good Fight, played the Trump-esque candidate in the SVU episode. You know, just to make this whole thing even weirder.
All of this was borderline insular in that it's a TV show talking about a cultural event around another TV show and network that — while it got a fair bit of media attention — wasn't exactly the most important thing happening around that time. Still, just the whole concept feels a bit novel as TV shows rarely, if ever, enter into these kinds of conversations with one another.
And that's sort of where things swing in Good Fight's favor with this case. The impulse to just make this a sort of meta joke between two shows and two networks could've been the whole thing. While it would've been a bit self-indulgent, it would've still been a pretty solid joke. Good Fight, however, uses this case to, again, drive home just how unsteady the election of Trump has made many things.
It was demonstrated very early in the season with the possible loss of a client looking to buddy up to a Trump-friendlier minority-owned firm; and here, we see Adrian (Delroy Lindo) and Lucca (Cush Jumbo) argue that the network burying the episode is likely due to concerns of Trump influencing an FCC decision regarding the network's owned-and-operated television stations.
While the episode wisely sidesteps getting so insular that it's explaining O&Os to people, the case continued to build from there, with arguments about whether release the episode was a political act versus a self-serving one. Did the writer want it out there, reminding people about Trump's sexual predator behavior; or did he just want a really good calling card to show prospective employers?
The Good Fight ends up deciding it's both. Adrian took the case not because he cared about the writer's politics or sticking it to Trump — though that might've been a part of it — but because he saw this case as a chance to maybe woo the studios and networks into bringing their local Chicago business to the firm.
Then, when they're ready to pretty much give up because the case is not going their way, Diane (Christine Baranski) swooped in with that ever-fickle golden goose, Chumhum's Neil Gross (John Benjamin Hickey), who is looking for a firm that is ready to fight Trump at every turn — just for him, probably — but also seems to want the cultural cachet of being able to say, "Oh, I employ an all black firm." To make sure they landed Gross, Adiran put on song and dance in court about standing up for what's right, while no doubt mentally deciding how much he stands to make with all of Chumhum's billable hours.
While Gross deftly took care of the capital contribution (and comparative poverty) subplot and got Diane's name on the door, all of this signaled how fighting the good fight may not just be because it's the right thing, but because it can also be the lucrative thing. Good Fight doesn't judge its characters for this capitalistic impulse when handled legally — the older Rindells continue to all be shadowy, amoral people — but it does highlight that maybe, just maybe, these characters are happiest when their ethics align with financial windfalls, as opposed to just doing the right thing regardless of the money involved.
These sorts of ethical balancing acts were always The Good Wife's bread and butter, so it's reassuring to see them really begin to come forward again, with hopefully some solid variations.
The Good Fight streams new episodes on CBS All Access on Sundays.
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