Audacious and addictive, The Good Fight reflects turbulent times in US

Audacious and addictive, The Good Fight reflects turbulent times in US

The Good Fight ★★★★
SBS Viceland, Saturday, 8.30pm, & SBS On Demand

The audacious and addictive legal drama The Good Fight has one of the best opening-credits sequences on television. It presents a series of elegant images of wealth and white-collar achievement: a flower-filled vase, a designer handbag, high heels, phones, laptops, a chess set, a crystal decanter and tumbler, a china teacup, a wine bottle and glass, and finally a desk. In striking slow-motion, these symbols of success are blown up, exploding in spectacular style as the theme music builds to a crescendo.

Images of professional prestige and its destruction have always seemed appropriate for a series
concerned with money, power, politics and law, but never more than in The Good Fight’s sixth and final season when the line-up has expanded to include a gun and a grenade. These are turbulent times.

Christine Baranski in The Good Fight.

The new season finds legal-eagle Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) returning from holidays to her
Chicago law firm and facing confrontations high in its glass-tower offices and down on the streets. The firm, nominally headed by founding partner Liz Reddick (Audra McDonald), is in its familiar state of urgent activity, fighting a class-action case on behalf of Google-like client Chumhum. Meanwhile Liz is battling new pressures as the company was recently sold to a multi-national organisation. Here, the business of law is a jungle in which there’s ferocious competition for cashed-up clients.

The latest demand from the big bosses is that Liz accept a new “rainmaker” partner who’ll bring in the big bucks. Enter Ri’Chard Lane (Andre Braugher), a shrewd and flamboyant figure boasting an eye-catching array of suits and spectacles. He’s inclined to conduct spontaneous prayer-group gatherings and generally disrupt the existing order. On the surrounding streets, there are violent protests, frequent explosions and clouds of tear gas. It’s no wonder that Diane explains to her newly engaged therapist, “My world feels a little bit out of control.“

Since its 2017 debut as a spin-off from The Good Wife, this sometimes playful, sometimes provocative series has explored the state of the nation, and what it sees now is division and disquiet. Created by husband-and-wife writer-producers Robert and Michelle King with Phil Alden Robinson, The Good Fight is more overtly political and adventurous than its predecessor. Diane is an out-and-proud Democrat married to a Republican NRA consultant (Gary Cole). The fourth season opened with an episode in which she dreamed that Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election, before eventually waking to the nightmare of Trump’s America.

Over the seasons, we’ve seen this accomplished, middle-aged professional out-manoeuvring her
opposition in the office and the courtroom as she’s struggled with her dismay at developments in her country. She’s learned aikido and axe-throwing, micro-dosed psyllium and joined an underground women’s resistance group, while working to maintain her position as a Caucasian senior partner in a firm that proudly promotes its African-American heritage.

Zimbabwean-Australian actor Charmaine Bingwa plays Carmen Moyo in The Good Fight.

Throughout its run, the series has tackled issues of race, gender, power and politics, always affording
them due complexity. In the early episodes of this 10-part season, for example, one case involves a pop singer who’s cancelled her tour of Israel because of its treatment of Palestinians. But what about her proposed China tour, given that country’s treatment of Uyghurs?

The Good Fight has also been stylistically bold, at one stage incorporating cheeky animated explainers of things like non-disclosure agreements. And it’s evolved with flair, adroitly replacing key characters in the vibrant ensemble. Following the departure of firecracker associate Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) came the introduction of the ambitious, self-contained new associate, Carmen Moyo (Charmaine Bingwa).

In a period when TV has been awash with sequels, prequels and origin stories, this gutsy spin-off has
impressively made its mark while making good use of the eccentric lawyers, idiosyncratic judges and
crazy clients that distinguished its admirable predecessor.

Hopefully, after the last case, Diane will to ride off into the sunset in one of her impeccable suits and enjoy a well-earned crystal tumbler of whiskey.

Find out the next TV, streaming series and movies to add to your must-sees. Get The Watchlist delivered every Thursday.

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