I cried for a whole day after Donald Trump won the 2016 US presidential election. When his inauguration came around this January, I was one of the significantly less than “a million, million and a half people” Trump was sure were in attendance on the very empty streets of Washington, DC for his swearing-in.
By then, my feelings had numbed to a sort of incredulity, a feeling I share with the protagonist of The Good Fight, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), who watches the stranger-than-fiction swearing-in from her Chicago apartment in the opening scene of The Good Wife spin-off. "Is this really happening?", I imagine Diane to think as she shuts off the TV.
As a lifelong Democrat and staunch second-wave feminist, Diane sees a certain kinship with Hillary Clinton, whose stunning defeat on November 8, 2016 highlighted the sexism women in male-dominated fields have to contend with. That 53 percent of women of mine and Diane's ilk aligned with a racist, xenophobic alleged rapist rather than give up some of their privilege stings us all the more.
Like Clinton, Diane has to reckon with the changed course of her career. Preparing for retirement in the pilot, we learn Diane’s savings have been caught up in a Ponzi scheme and, having already resigned, she finds herself jobless and with her assets frozen. Seeking a partner position with friends who fawned over her at her retirement party, she is considered poison and cast out of the kingdom, drawing further comparisons to Clinton.
DIane's former firm has taken to representing the state in police brutality cases, and her final case with them is against Reddick, Boseman & Kolstad, a predominantly black firm. The contrast between which side each firm takes is visual as well. White lilies meet Diane and partners in the foyer of their white-walled offices each morning where white lawyers toil away; Reddick, Boseman & Kolstad’s offices are decorated in earthy and jewel tones. “You’d be back on the right side of things,” Adrian Boseman (Delroy Lindo) says to Diane when offering her a position, appealing to her lifelong dedication to progressive causes. At the very least, she’ll be their “diversity hire”, Boseman chuckles.
The Good Wife always had a knack for preempting and portraying hot-button topics with nuance, and further police violence lawsuits are woven throughout The Good Fight, along with cases involving fake news and the alt-right. Recurring character Felix Staples (John Cameron Mitchell) is a clear surrogate for Milo Yiannopoulos, while the returning Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) and Boseman use Trump’s infamous tweets as precedence in their censorship case.
Even in storylines that aren’t explicitly about the president, an underlying wariness about the current political clime is always at the forefront. The Good Wife’s Julius Cain (Michael Boatman) is ostracised from the firm for voting for Trump, while the constant barrage of “can you believe what Trump’s done now?!” palpably meets Lucca in her interactions with her white boyfriend’s family. A politically-engaged audience feels empathy with her having to experience these micro-aggressions, which I imagine is even more triggering for non-white viewers.
Though The Good Wife dealt explicitly with politics, following the life of spurned political spouse Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and where those politics intersect with the law, The Good Fight ramps that up. Along with a more diverse and less stereotyped cast, and a bleeding-heart heroine who reminds this viewer she’s not alone, The Good Fight is the perfect piece of pop culture to exist in these Trumpian times.
The Good Fight airs every Wednesday at 9:30pm on SBS. Episodes are also available on SBS On Demand after each episode airs.