Smart legal drama The Good Fight is a strong ensemble show with a spotlight on three savvy female lawyers, each at different stages in their careers. Every storyline through the series' first season is dominated by its powerful and textured lead actresses.
A spin-off from the long-running legal drama The Good Wife, the producers practically jettisoned the male cast of the show, opening it up to greater diversity with more women and people of colour.
Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart
If you found yourself on the wrong side of a lawsuit or criminal proceeding, you’d want Diane Lockhart arguing your case. You probably couldn’t afford her, however, because she’s among the best in the biz. One of Chicago’s preeminent legal minds, she’s the named partner of a top-tier law firm and has devoted herself to her career for decades, at the expense of pretty much everything else.
A year after we saw her slap Alicia in the final moments of The Good Wife, Diane has her eye on a comfortable retirement – without estranged husband Kurt McVeigh (Gary Cole) – and readies herself to exit her firm. Well, you know what they say about best-laid plans. A financial crisis changes everything and, without giving too much away, Diane suddenly needs her job like never before.
Prior to her work in The Good Wife, Christine Baranski was best known to TV audiences for her Emmy-winning role as drunken lush Maryanne in ’90s sitcom Cybill. Before that, she won two Tony Awards for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play – for 1984’s The Real Thing and Rumors in 1989. Other career highlights include movies Into The Woods, Mamma Mia! and The Birdcage, and an ongoing guest role in The Big Bang Theory as Leonard’s (Johnny Galecki) mum.
Audra McDonald as Liz Reddick-Lawrence
The producers of The Good Fight were such a fan of Audra McDonald’s guest turn in a season 4 episode of The Good Wife that they brought back the character for season 2 of the new series. McDonald, a beloved star on Broadway, is noteworthy as the first person to have won a Tony Award in all four acting categories.
McDonald stars as the daughter of Reddick, Boseman & Lockhart’s name partner Cal Reddick (played in the first season by Lou Gosset Jr) and also happens to be the ex of another name partner, Adrian Boseman (Delroy Lindo). Returning to the world of The Good Fight in the first episode of season 2, we’re yet to find out exactly where her interests (and loyalties) lie.
Cush Jumbo as Lucca Quinn
When we met Lucca Quinn in The Good Wife, she was the type of lawyer people who couldn’t afford to pay for the likes of Diane Lockhart were allocated in bond court. But despite her youth and inexperience, she knew the system inside out and took Alicia under her wing when the latter ended up working there.
Now a third-year associate, Lucca is one of the rising stars of her current firm, Reddick, Boseman & Lockhart. A fearsome attorney and a loyal but honest friend, she’s sassy, snarky and straightforward – good or bad, you know where you stand with her. Her outspoken nature would get her in more trouble, but she’s too smart for that.
Like Baranski, Cush Jumbo studied dance before focusing on acting and has worked extensively in theatre. The British actress – we hear her briefly adopt an English accent in the first episode of The Good Fight – appeared in UK series such as Torchwood, Getting On and Vera before making her US TV debut in The Good Wife’s seventh season.
Sarah Steele as Marissa Gold
Eli Gold’s (Alan Cumming) smart-mouthed daughter, Marissa, originally appeared in just two episodes of season 2 (and one of season 3) of The Good Wife, but made such an impression she was brought back for a much longer stint in season 6 – her absence explained by the character having spent time completing military service in Israel.
Upon her return, whether working behind the counter of a juice bar or being Alicia’s body woman during her campaign for State’s Attorney, Marissa brought the comedy – a role she also serves in The Good Fight.
Twenty-eight-year-old Sarah Steele is another cast member who’s as comfortable on the stage as she is in front of a camera, and was appearing in Broadway play The Humans at the same time as she filmed The Good Fight.
Rose Leslie as Maia Rindell
Just as Alicia’s re-entry to the legal profession drove The Good Wife (and allowed viewers to learn about the system as she did), so does newly qualified lawyer Maia Rindell serve as the audience surrogate in The Good Fight. She also happens to be Diane’s goddaughter and, before you can say nepotism, is hired by her godmother’s firm.
Incredibly green and somewhat naïve, Maia has led a privileged life courtesy of her parents’ thriving financial business. But when her father is arrested, accused of running a Ponzi scheme that wipes out the life savings of his investors – including Diane – Maia is suddenly public enemy number three (after Mum and Dad).
Offering support and some solid legal advice during her family crisis is Maia’s girlfriend, Amy (Heléne Yorke), who works as an assistant State’s Attorney, while Maia also receives some helpful real-world tips from Lucca and Marissa.
Fans of Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones will recognise Scottish actress Rose Leslie as housemaid-turned-secretary Gwen and wilding Ygritte (respectively, obv). The 30-year-old also appeared in the fourth season of Luther as the titular character’s new offsider, DS Emma Lane.
Bernadette Peters as Lenore Rindell
One of the The Good Fight’s ongoing story arcs is the question of how culpable or, at least, complicit Maia’s mother, Lenore, is in the crisis caused by the family business. Played by Bernadette Peters, Lenore is a financial mastermind whose normally close relationship with her daughter is destroyed by the scandal and the seemingly shady things Lenore does in the aftermath. Keep your eye on this one.
A veteran of stage and screen, Peters has appeared in everything from The Muppet Show to Grey’s Anatomy to Smash (although don’t hold the latter against her) on TV, and films like Silent Movie, The Jerk and Pennies From Heaven, for which she won a Golden Globe Award. A musical theatre legend, she is also a dual Tony Award winner – taking out the Best Actress in a Musical award in 1985 and 1999.
Erica Tazel as Barbara Kolstad
The Kolstad in Reddick, Boseman & Kolstad, before Lockhart was named, Barbara Kolstad is the voice of reason to Adrian Boseman’s (Delroy Lindo) more shoot-from-the-hip approach. As a result, she also ends up having to pull bad-cop duty when her fellow senior partner gets carried away.
Whether it’s because of that divergence or not, the duo make an effective team, having built their firm up to become the largest African-American law firm in the Midwest. Their speciality? Police brutality cases.
The Good Fight is Erica Tazel’s second series regular role, having previously starred in Justified as Deputy US Marshall Rachel Brooks. Tazel features prominently throughout the first season of the series.
Season 4 of The Good Fight premieres Wednesday 23 September at 9:30pm on SBS. Episodes will be available at SBS On Demand after they go to air.