Although it’s a spin-off of The Good Wife, new legal drama The Good Fight is very much its own show. In fact, if you never saw a single episode of the series starring Julianna Margulies as politician’s wife-turned-legal hotshot Alicia Florrick, it won’t impact your enjoyment of The Good Fight one bit.
That said, The Good Wife did run for seven seasons and those characters that have crossed over to the spin-off bring a certain amount of baggage with them. But who has 110 or so hours to spend catching up on a show you didn’t bother watching the first time? Here's what we think you need to know.
Is she in The Good Fight? No. But she was the main character in The Good Wife and her life did impact heavily on those that we're now watching in the new show.
The central character of The Good Wife, Alicia returned to practise law following the incarceration of her husband, Cook County State’s Attorney Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), who was charged with corruption (although later acquitted). Over seven seasons, she transformed from dutiful wife and mother to independent career woman, and from rusty attorney to top notch litigator and candidate for State’s Attorney herself.
Among his many failings, Peter had regularly been unfaithful – a leaked sex tape of him with a prostitute led to the corruption charges in the first place – and Alicia struggled to forgive him. Instead, she pursued an on-off relationship with her former college boyfriend and new boss, Will Gardner (Josh Charles). In season five, Will was shockingly killed off by a client in court, leaving behind his law partner…
The other named partner of law firm Lockhart Gardner, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) shared a relatively harmonious working relationship with Will – and in The Good Fight, she looks nostalgic when she sees a photo of him. On more than one occasion, the two were able to unite to see off threats to the firm, including from their original third partner, Jonas Stern (Kevin Conway). The show made a point to show Diane's strong roots in the ideology of second wave feminism - she's also a proud Democrat.
Initially unsure about Alicia, Diane ended up becoming quite a mentor to the returned lawyer – although the two didn’t always see eye to eye. In fact, the final scene of The Good Wife involved Diane slapping Alicia due to the way the latter handled…
Diane’s husband, Kurt
A ballistics expert, Kurt McVeigh (Gary Cole) wasn’t an obvious romantic match for gun control advocate Diane. She has a prized photo of herself meeting Hillary Clinton; he’s a fan of Sarah Palin. She’s stylish and sophisticated; he lives on a ranch and is described by Diane as “the Malboro Man”. She’s a liberal; he’s, well, not. But their chemistry was undeniable and they eventually married after years of serious flirting whenever he was hired by her firm to testify in trials.
In the season finale of The Good Wife, Kurt ended up as a prosecution witness in a case against Peter Florrick (yep, he was in trouble again), while Diane was Peter’s lead counsel. Given the pretty major conflict of interest, Diane didn’t cross-examine Kurt, associate Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) did – don’t worry, we’ll get to her. At Alicia’s suggestion, Lucca pushed Kurt hard and it came out that he’d had an affair with another ballistics expert. When The Good Fight commences, Diane and Kurt are separated, but will it stay that way?
The law firm - Lockhart Gardner
Following Will’s death, Lockhart Gardner went through a series of tumultuous mergers, schisms and name changes. At one point Diane even quit to join Florrick/Agos – the firm launched by Alicia and her rival-turned-ally Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry) – and it was quickly renamed Florrick/Agos & Lockhart.
Then, everybody (except Alicia) joined back up with the old Lockhart Gardner gang as Lockhart, Agos and Lee. Don’t worry, all the comings and goings were confusing even if you were watching the show.
What’s important is the Lee in that new firm name: David Lee (Zach Grenier), a petty, scheming piece of work who is also a highly skilled divorce lawyer and head of the lucrative family law division. He appears in The Good Fight and is as vindictive as ever. Also still working alongside Diane and David is doddering, nap-loving partner Howard Lyman (Jerry Adler), who has somehow managed to remain at the firm through all its incarnations.
Back on The Good Wife, when Alicia was eventually welcomed back into the Lockhart, Agos and Lee fold, she brought with her…
After Alicia’s run for State’s Attorney (she won, but had to withdraw amid claims of vote rigging), she ended up working in bond court. There, she met feisty eye roll expert Lucca Quinn, who not only showed her the ropes but jumped ship to start a new firm (yes, another one) when they both got jack of the bond court circus.
Later, she again followed Alicia to Lockhart, Agos and Lee – and ended up fatefully cross-examining Kurt. It’s no surprise to find that Lucca had moved on from Diane’s firm when The Good Fight picks up, but, wouldn’t you know it, they get thrown back together soon enough.
Young and hungry, Lucca is a fierce adversary in court and a straight shooter who lets you know exactly where you stand. A little bit like…
She’s not a lawyer, but what she lacks in courtroom qualifications, she more than makes up for in street smarts. Marissa (Sarah Steele) worked as Alicia’s body woman during her State’s Attorney campaign, and quickly became a fan favourite thanks to her tell-it-like-it-is approach and refusal to be intimidated. Those skills are ultimately what bring her into the mix in The Good Fight.
Marissa is also the daughter of Eli Gold (Alan Cumming), who worked as Peter Florrick’s campaign manager during his run for Governor and became his chief of staff when he won the election against…
Played by Matthew Perry, the former Republican candidate for the Governorship is one slippery snake. The type of lawyer who gives the profession a bad name, he employed dirty tactics against the Florricks and sets off alarm bells for Diane when she encounters him in The Good Fight. She’s right to be concerned.
The Good Fight airs every Wednesday at 9:30pm on SBS. Episodes are also available on SBS On Demand after each episode airs.