This week on 'The Good Fight' the gang learn a lot about themselves when they get satirised. And they don’t like it at all.
By
Dan Barrett

15 Oct 2020 - 8:26 AM  UPDATED 15 Oct 2020 - 1:46 PM

Every week The Good Fight brings to the screen stories that reflect the news and culture of the moment we’re living through. Using allegories that sometimes dip into satire, the show uses a Law & Order-style “ripped from the headlines” approach to create topical stories each season. But what happens when the characters on The Good Fight find out that they are the subject of the same practice?

This week the gang at Reddick, Boseman, & Lockhart are satirised and they don’t like it one bit.

It begins with a client who is angry that he went to see the hip play of the moment, ‘C**ksucker in Chains’ and found that details of his divorce were being recounted on stage. When investigating the provocatively titled play (“The asterisks make it classy,” Adrian Boseman jokes), the firm discover that the playwright is a former Reddick, Boseman, & Lockhart lawyer who has not only written into the play details from the clients divorce, but also caricatures of the name partners at the law firm.

Jumaane Jenkins has become a sensation thanks to his play. At a Q&A following a performance, the show takes a moment to mock the inanity of these sessions with one audience member over-praising it with random nonsensical phrases before asking what the meaning of the play was, followed by a Karen-type audience member with a sweater draped around her neck who took great offense at the ‘reverse-racism’ on display. The self-seriousness of the Q&A helps the firm to make a case against the play.

Satire is protected by the law, but as soon as Jenkins explains that the characters are directly based on real life people, it gives the firm an opening to claim defamation. Jenkin’s claims that the characters depicted in the play are “Organically derived composites of many people I have met over the years", are shot down after Marissa sources earlier versions of the play which have not yet had character names changed.

For us, the audience of The Good Fight, watching the depiction of the characters in the play is nasty fun. Jenkins' play criticises the racial dynamics of The Good Fight with Diane recontextualised as a BDSM mistress and Adrian as a subservient feckless colleague who gets off on having weaker power in their relationship. Liz, meanwhile, is depicted as being in a psychosexual relationship with her father - a man guilty of sexually harassing women at the law firm. It is all played for laughs with extreme depictions of the characters, but there are elements of truth on display, such as the idea that Diane is often able to ignore the wishes of her name partner colleagues, using her whiteness as a cloak of power.

Satirist Tom Lehrer once said that “You can't be satirical and not be offensive to somebody.” The Good Fight every week is a savage satirical takedown of corrupted power structures and those that support them. As viewers our perception is changed this episode as we empathise with the targets of satire.

Adrian, Liz, and Diane each take offense, but also, the play speaks to some personal truths that the characters begin to own up to. Most sensationally, it causes Diane to be more truthful about the sexual dynamics involved in her relationship with her husband Kurt, but it impacts others in ways that will have a greater ramification on the series as a whole.

Recurring character Judge Julius Cain, attends the play and mistakes the character lampooning Adrian as a parody of himself. Like the Karen-type seen in the audience at the start of the episode, often the audience reads into a work something other than what the artist originally intended.

It forces Julius to be honest with himself - is he living up to the ideals he had for himself as he set out on a career in law?

That question is sure to come into focus more next week as the issue of Memo 618 continues to be a focus for the show. In this week’s episode we are witness to some of the power dynamics involved in the parent firm to Reddick, Boseman, & Lockhart. Upstairs at STR Laurie Diane discovers a lawyer who is using the mysterious Memo 618 edict issued to judges as a way to win his own cases. This leads Diane into a confrontation with one of the co-heads of the firm Gavin Firth (John Larroquette) who is ill-at-ease over Diane’s investigation, but also concedes that he doesn’t know about everything happening at his own firm.

Is Firth a good guy after all? Has he, like Diane, Liz, and Adrian this week, been forced into confronting truths about himself?

When The Good Fight turns its satirical lends upon itself, the characters may not enjoy it, but it has exposed a lot of truth hidden just beneath the surface.

Season 4 of The Good Fight is screening exclusively on SBS, airing Wednesdays at 9.30pm. Episodes are available at SBS On Demand after they go to air. Watch episode 1 now (available until 4 December 2020):

 

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