'The Good Fight' Is Political Porn With a Trump Fetish

Its obsession with Trump and his family is sometimes oppressive and often self-righteous, but ‘The Good Fight’ remains an intelligent, fast-paced, enjoyable drama

Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart in “The Good Fight.” An abundance of sharply drawn characters.
CBS / Yes

For some time now, “The Good Fight” has emerged from the shadow of “The Good Wife” to offer a smart, relevant, entertaining legal drama that stands on its own. At first it seemed doubtful that, disconnected from the mother-series, it would find its own voice, particularly given the recycled plotlines about a female lawyer who leaves one law firm to join another, and has to cope with a new start against a background of public embarrassment.

The defining moment of “The Good Fight” arrived unexpectedly, with Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States. After the first episode had already been shot, the show’s creators decided to add a scene in which the protagonist, Diane, watches Trump’s swearing-in ceremony. Stunned, lamenting and furious, she turns off the television. Since then, firing barbs at the Trump administration, the series has followed the jolt to Diane’s life as she copes with the political situation by means of Aikido and LSD.

In its third season, which opened March 14 on CBS, Trump’s presidency is already far more than mere background, or inspiration for various plot strands. The series has wrapped itself around the administration so tightly that it has become an integral part of its identity, for good and for ill.

On the one hand, it serves up a smart, comic, engaging look at the implications of the political situation, with an abundance of sharply drawn characters that make for compelling viewing as they battle over court cases that echo the reality beyond the TV screen. The story is enhanced by cogent writing and top-notch acting, notably by the women at the forefront of the series (with the exception of Rose Leslie, who plays Maia – it’s been obvious for some time that the series’ creators are at a loss as to what to do with her). Added value is provided by bursting rage and a revolutionary breeze that blows across all the byways of the plot.

Delroy Lindo and Audra McDonald in "The Good Fight."

Still, the obsessive and incessant harping on Trump and his family is oppressive. In fact, the interplay between real political events and the fictional narrative tags “The Good Fight” as the spearhead of a new genre: political porn. More than ever, the third season is an almost erotic fantasy – the creators and viewers getting horny at the thought of dumping Trump. In contrast to torture porn, which has conquered television with series that delight in the suffering of both characters and the viewers (consider “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead”), the political porn of “The Good Fight” takes unabashed joy in fantasies aimed at turning on the series’ liberal and feminist audience.

One plotline returns to the fantasy in which Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) induces a porn actress to testify to an affair she had with Trump and tell about the payment she received to have an abortion. Another storyline shows how Diane channels her frustration at the president into activism as part of a secret resistance movement. She also has hallucinations of Trump in unexpected places, and her husband’s relations with the president’s family are harmful to the relations between them. Also joining the series is Michael Sheen as a well-connected Jewish lawyer for the administration who doesn’t balk at lies, deceptions and dirty tricks, a part written as a caricature of Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen.

Rose Leslie in "The Good Fight."
CBS / באדיבות yes

Even if the critique of the White House is frequently sharp and uninhibited, it drags the series into absurd realms in the form of subplots that add up to no more than self-congratulatory pats on the shoulder. To top it off, animation segments have been added to explain legal terms and the dangerous political use being made of them, all in a self-righteous, educational tone that’s blatantly proud of itself. The rage against Trump puts “The Good Fight” at risk of morphing from an intelligent, entertaining series into political propaganda that preaches to the converted.

Still, the four episodes of “The Good Fight” (of the third season’s 10) that were made available to reviewers are a pleasure to watch. Every time the series is about to sink into the political mire it entered in full awareness, it takes off with head held high thanks to the well-drawn characters, their distinctive eccentric touches and the collision between their personal life and their legal cases. Despite the manifest weaknesses, the good parts of “The Good Fight” compensate for the feeble segments, and the whole fuses once more into intelligent, fast-paced, diverting entertainment.