It’s not every day you come across a successful 30 year marriage, let alone one in which a husband and wife work together. Even rarer is that the same couple are one of TVs most successful writing duos: Robert and Michelle King are masters in the art of combining home and work life. They’re the husband-and-wife team who created and wrote The Good Wife, making them one of the most lauded writing partnerships today.
With its snappy scripts and complex characters, The Good Wife was a new take on the classic courtroom drama. It seamlessly melded procedural and serial, becoming a runaway critical and audience success. It ran for 7 seasons, and the duo won a heap of writing awards, including the Writers Guild of America Award for Best New Series, and tonnes of critical love. The Guardian called it a "miracle of the small screen", and some critics went so far as to say the series changed the face of network TV.
One of the reasons for their success, they admit, is that they genuinely like working together. “If it weren’t fun,” Michelle told The Daily Beast, “we wouldn’t be doing it.” Robert agrees; “Our personalities are close enough and yet they're not mirroring each other.” They make it work by carving up their tasks; “We split up the division of labour right down the middle,” he says. While Robert is “in the editing room and galloping ahead on scripts”, Michelle looks after production design and casting.
SBS podcast The Playlist spoke with The Good Fight creators Robert and Michelle King:
So when The Good Wife finished, what were TV’s most popular writing team to do? Sit down together to write another series, of course. Their latest undertaking is The Good Fight, a spin-off series about one of the series best-loved characters, Dianne Lockhart, moving to a new legal firm.
Like the original series, The Good Fight uses stories that seem ripped from the headlines. From social media trolling to stem-cell research, the Kings cleverly incorporate real-life stories into their plot-lines. In one episode, a surgeon is tried for giving medical assistance to assumed terrorists in Syria. In another, a mayor is charged with the task of curbing police brutality in Chicago. “They are news junkies, they are political junkies, they are driven by the next thing,” said Ted Humphries, another writer on the show. It means staying on their toes, and working up to the minute to make sure scripts are relevant. “We can make tweaks, up until the last minute before filming starts. Sometimes we’re… in day six or seven of that shoot and [if] we want to tweak something, and we’re able to do that.”
With such pressure to stay on the ball, how do the husband and wife manage to keep work-life balance? They don’t have strict rules about work-talk in the house. “We've had some disasters in our personal life. And the show offers a healthy distraction sometimes from that, where you feel like we can't let that eat away at us because we have this deadline,” says Robert. “The deadline, as awful as it is, makes you get over whatever personal problems there are. I would say in that way it has been an improvement on [our] marriage.”
The Good Fight airs every Wednesday at 9:30pm on SBS. Episodes are also available on SBS On Demand after each episode airs.