The Good Fight opened with its main character, Diane Lockhart, watching the Trump inauguration in horror.
Trump continued to haunt the narrative as the series went on, with regular reference to the realities of his presidency. The fifth episode directly adapts a Trump news story, ripped from the headlines; its conclusion saw the invocation of Trump’s twitter feed as a deus ex machina that was the perfect resolution to the episode, potently underscoring just how much said tweets are beginning to shape public discourse. The Good Fight even brought to life their own stand-in for alt-right leader and prominent Trump supporter Milo Yiannopoulos; John Cameron Mitchell played Felix Staples in an episode that satirised the realities of online abuse in a stark and discerning manner. The horror of the show’s opening never really goes away – it’s channelled into an undercurrent of anger that fuels every moment of this deeply incisive programme.
Indeed, The Good Fight is shaped as an explicitly, brazenly post-Trump drama, intimately in tune with the concerns of the day. The series tackled police brutality, fake news, and the alt-right; it’s a bold, intelligent drama, one that fiercely and unrelentingly persists in its depiction of a post-Trump world. Nuanced and complex female characters take centre stage, with three women as the series’ leads; the tagline “get nasty”, an implicit reference to Trump’s condemnation of Clinton as a “nasty woman”, is an open statement of intent with respect to The Good Fight’s emphasis on strong female characters. Depicting as it does women of different ages, races, and sexualities, The Good Fight breezily passes the Bechdel-Wallace test in every episode, an effortless display of diversity and inclusivity. It’s consciously progressive, making impressive strides in representation – and deliberately treating it as an entirely unremarkable facet of a wider whole, simply a fact of life.
In many respects, The Good Fight is the definitive piece of post-Trump television – a dauntless, incisive programme that’s explicitly grounded in Trump’s America. It’s an all the more impressive feat to behold when one considers that, like many others, executive producers Robert and Michelle King anticipated Hillary Clinton to win the 2016 election; the pilot of The Good Fight was already shooting and hastily rewritten when Trump became President Elect. It’s a feat that should have earned the series an Emmy nomination – but didn’t.
The series has received an Emmy nomination, yes – for its theme tune. Undeniably, it’s an excellent score; the opening credits neatly captures the feeling of destabilising chaos that runs through the series. However, it’s simply wrong to suggest this was The Good Fight’s main achievement, or the most impressive aspect of the programme. Where were the nominations for Christine Baranski, Cush Jumbo, and Rose Leslie? Where is the – entirely deserved – nomination for Best Drama Series? Or Best Writing? For a series as powerful as this, storming as it did onto the stage, the snub is a notable one. Perhaps it’s a result of The Good Fight’s nature as a CBS All Access export, the frontrunner for an online platform that’s not yet established. Nevertheless, however, it’s clear an oversight has been made.
Ultimately, The Good Fight is unabashedly, unashamedly post-Trump television. It’s the sort of piece that cultural historians will look back on to glean an understanding of the current administration’s impact on the zeitgeist; The Good Fight isn’t just the first piece of genuinely, openly post-Trump television, but also the definitive take for 2017. While it may have missed out on the Emmys this year, one hopes that the second season of this ambitious, intelligent drama receives the acclaim it deserves.
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