I never watched The Good Wife. I didn't intentionally ignore it. When it started, everyone was talking about this great new show - there were great reviews, friends and colleagues were singing its praises. But I let it slide the first season, then another. I figured I had time. Suddenly the show was 7 seasons in and it just seemed too far gone for me to jump onboard.
Which is why I was so excited when the same writing team announced they were producing a spin-off series – The Good Fight. Finally, a chance to make things right! But I was worried – would I understand what was going on? Was it too late?
When I sat down to watch the show, I was relieved to discover that I had nothing to worry about. You don’t need to have watched any of the previous series to know exactly what is going on.
It starts fresh
You don’t need to have seen the original series to love every minute of The Good Fight. Having watched none of the original series, I understood exactly what was going on. It’s the same smart drama and clever dialogue, but with new settings, plot-lines and characters. It starts anew, in a different law firm, with new cases. It’s like a totally new series, just with the confidence of an established show that's mid-stride.
There are brand new characters to love
If the names Alicia Florrick or Diana Lockhart mean nothing to you, don’t fear. As a Good Wife luddite, I was not familiar with ANY of the old characters. Luckily, I didn’t have to be, as it seems the best-loved ones have been joined by a new cast of greats. The inimitable Christine Baranski has stayed on as Diane Lockhart, and Cush Jumbo rejoins as Lucca Quinn, who (in addition to having the best name in show business) plays the spunky, no-nonsense partner.
But the strength is in the newcomers. Maia Rindell is a plucky junior lawyer played by Rose Leslie, who some might remember as the wildling Ygritte in Game of Thrones. The character feels just dedicated and clever enough to be real, but also human enough to make mistakes professionally. The other stand-out is the lovely Delroy Lindo who plays Adrian Boseman, powerful head of the prestigious African American-led law firm Reddick, Boseman, & Kolstad, who is driven by his own principles, but is not above a bit of dirty dealing.
It’s the series we need right now
One of the central themes of The Good Wife was gender politics. 10 years ago, when every other week a politician was exposed in yet another sex scandal, The Good Wife felt like a product of its time with a strong female lead escaping the shadow of her husband.
The Good Fight feels like the next chapter. Gender politics have evolved and the new show has shifted with them. Now, we want to see female characters who smart, capable, and multi-faceted, but whose gender is no longer a challenge they spend a whole series trying to overcome.
In the new series, race is brought to the fore. The season begins when Diane Lockhart, a partner in a prestigious law firm is implicated in a Madoff-style scheme. She quickly descends from one of the most esteemed lawyers in Chicago, to virtually unhireable. The only law firm that will accept her is staffed by a group of passionate, mostly-African American staff. They deal in discrimination cases; police brutality, workplace inequality, and rights protection. It opens the door for interesting conversations around racial politics, labour laws, and US foreign policy. Characters have to protect the rights of their racially diverse clients, whilst simultaneously dealing with their own racial biases. The show feels topical and relevant under the shadow of Trump.
It’s short and sweet
The Good Wife had a successful 7 season run, and with 23 episodes per season, there is a lot to take in. A lot of viewers today just aren't used to watching shows with that many episodes each year. The Good Fight is a very manageable 10 episodes. Thankfully, season 2 has already been commissioned, so we won't be left wanting for more.
The Good Fight airs every Wednesday at 9:30pm on SBS. Episodes are also available on SBS On Demand after each episode airs.