One episode was provided prior to broadcast.
CBS’s new streaming-only drama might be one of its best since The Good Wife, a fitting point because The Good Fight is the spiritual successor and spinoff to the aforementioned drama about a lawyer who rises through the ashes of her husband’s political sex scandal.
The Good Fight carries on in this same world of deals, betrayals, and heightened court drama with Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), who returns from The Good Wife a year after the final episode of the series. Her life is now in more uncertain terms than ever after the turmoil of a Ponzi scheme that took much of Diane’s fortune. Cue the need for a fresh start at a Chicago law firm run by Adrian Boseman (Delroy Linda) and headlined by familiar face, Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo).
But this new series has a new surrogate for audiences to uncover in the form of Maia Rindell (Rose Leslie), a young lawyer also seeking a fresh start and quickly finding her stride alongside Lockhart and Quinn as her mentors. Oh, and she happens to be the daughter of the old friends Lockhart lost all of her money to, Lenore and Henry. Her story seems to be a clear echo from The Good Wife‘s original hook, among many other similarities to Alicia Florrick.
Even in a cast as rich and sharp as The Good Fight (and that’s one that also includes Erica Tazel, Sarah Steele, Justin Bartha and others), Rose Leslie submits her case for why she’s one of the more compelling rising stars in television, coming off her role as Ygritte in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Her quirks and soft, but firm voice are a far cry from the “samey” legal dramedies featuring larger than life caricatures, left behind by CBS’s longer, edgier and profanity-friendly streaming service this series exclusively launches on.
The law firm in question has the potential for a grand multi-series capable of its own spinoffs, unsurprisingly, but it does start somewhat small and promises to be leaner and more focused, without sacrificing any of the smarts. The primary conceit is that through picking small, symbolic fights with corporations (a relevant flourish in this current political era), these upstart lawyers can actually provoke some real change on a massive scale. These are easily palpable stakes that don’t come easy at this point in The Good Fight, but the show seems to hope that viewers will appreciate something getting done, if at all.
If The Good Wife was about how people with ideals can compromise their own values (yes, even liberals and progressives), then The Good Fight seems to be about carrying on anyway, learning from the past and using it as a weapon against more impactful causes. This first case, for example, is set between a retail employee who was forced into a confession of theft that would garnish his wages. It’s a small, but somewhat resonant cause to get behind, but rather than fight the very injustice itself, he begins his plea content with asking just for the fair amount of garnished wages that was agreed upon, nothing more. So, The Good Fight then posits what’s worth fighting for and why, regardless of whether or not you win. By the end, it’s unclear which route the series really wants to go through, an obvious flaw derived from the fact that in some ways, The Good Fight borrows just a little too much from its mentor.
For fresh eyes, however, The Good Fight does a capable job of making its world accessible, even if you never caught The Good Wife or completed its run. There are obvious threads between the two shows, still, and old faces are bound to keep appearing and reappearing, but there’s probably no better time than now to familiarize yourself with the fast-paced and always surprising “Good” world, a more mature and morally interesting drama amidst a new political climate that can feel like mayhem in comparison.
That’s not to say The Good Fight is yet a political show. Its cases and characters certainly reverberate such themes and a point of view is obvious in the text, but the drama itself is personal, not political. The relationships are carried by a balanced script, not an agenda or set of marching orders. Perhaps its smaller schedule (a mere 10 episodes compared to The Good Wife‘s 22) has something to do with how substantial The Good Fight can feel in most of its scenes and moments, and it certainly helps that for a lot of viewers, this is a continuation of one of the finest dramas of our time.
The Good Fight makes a better case than usual for why television spinoffs can be just as good, if not better, than the original.