It doesn’t take long for The Good Fight to give Good Wife fans the Diane Lockhart moment they’ve been waiting for. As her life falls apart around her in the pilot episode, an exasperated Diane screams, “Fuuuuck!”
“It’s the Kings unplugged,” actress Christine Baranski said at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, California. Her character has a much dirtier mouth in Robert and Michelle King’s spinoff series, which will be released on CBS’s streaming site, All Access, meaning it doesn’t have to live up to the same broadcast standards as CBS.
The Good Fight begins a year after we saw Diane slap Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) for using her husband’s infidelity against him during a court case, among other things. Now estranged, The Good Fight finds Diane announcing her plans to retire — until she loses all of her retirement in a Ponzi scheme and the firm refuses to take her back. Hence, the F-bomb.
“You’re going to hear people talk the way they speak in life,” said co-creator Michelle King, who appeared with the cast and her husband, Robert King, at the press conference. “These are educated people. They’re cultured. They’re elegant. So you’re not going to hear them sound drastically different. But they’re going to use the swear words you would have expected to hear on The Good Wife.”
The F-bomb scene was shot with two alternatives: “Mother fucker!” and “Son of a bitch!” The latter was for the CBS version of the pilot, which will air on February 19, when the first two episodes are also released on CBS All Access. The rest of the ten-episode season will air on Sundays on CBS All Access.
The Good Fight pilot opens with the inauguration of Donald Trump, whose election win caught writers by surprise. The results sent them into a re-write of the pilot, the only episode they had completed at the time, Robert King said. Much like The Good Wife was a satire of the 2008 election, he explained, the spinoff will explore the ways politics, the legal system, and journalism will change under the Trump administration.
Forced to go back to work, Diane joins a firm headed by two African-American lawyers, Robert Boseman (Delroy Lindo) and Barbara Kolstad (Erica Tazel). In light of the new White House administration, Boseman and Kolstad are worried they will lose their government-supported contracts.
“What was good was the world changed on us,” King said. “When you’re a writer, you’re always wondering what the spine of the show is. And I think this election gave us a spine. This gives shape to a new show. This is all gonna change. Some say for the better, some for the worse, but it’s all gonna change … [The show] is not just anti-Trump, anti-Trump, anti-Trump. It’s also looking at how liberals are reacting.”
Production on the pilot took place in November, before and after the election. Baranski remembered a scene she filmed the day before the election when Diane is packing up her office and finds her old photograph with Hillary Clinton. “I said to the director, ‘This person’s going to be the next president of the United States and Diane’s probably thinking if she has the strength to pick herself up, then I have to do it, too,’ she recalled. “And I put the picture in the box. And the scene ends.”
The next night, while filming a scene with Lindo, the cast and crew learned that Trump was the projected winner. “We were all in free fall,” Baranski continued. “The interesting thing is you have a lead character who is in a moral free fall in a similar way to how the country’s feeling right now — how to take the next step when there’s no foundation. Where are we morally?”
“When the audience sees the scene of Diane packing her boxes, it’s going to have a very different resonance,” Baranski said. “The show is called The Good Fight, and it is about the passing of power from one generation to another in terms of female power. I’m hoping the show has a really powerful message of women continuing to have ‘the good fight.’’’
Cush Jumbo and Sarah Steele will reprise their Good Wife roles as Lucca Quinn and Marissa Gold respectively. Other series regulars include: Rose Leslie as Maia Rindell, the daughter of the billionaire Ponzi schemer; and Justin Bartha as Colin Morrello, a member of the state attorney’s office who butts heads with Lucca. Some of The Good Wife’s famously beloved guest stars will also make appearances, including Carrie Preston, Jane Alexander, Denis O’Hare, Matthew Perry, and Rita Wilson.