If it would please the court, we’d admit to having a legalese void in our lives after watching Britain’s newest royal, Meghan Markle, depart Suits this past season in rather undramatic fashion. So, now what? How will we get our weekly dosage of good-looking attorneys shouting, “Objection, your honor!” and curmudgeonly judges retorting with, “Sustained!” if a future duchess of Sussex is no longer there to pique our interest? Lucky for us amateur law aficionados, there are eight notable courtroom TV shows available to stream that exude sexiness, intrigue, and campy fun. Plus, of course, genuinely intriguing looks into Big Law. Approach the bench and read about them below.
Before James Spader succumbed to shaving his hair to please network overlords for his Blacklist role, he was New England’s smoothest-talking, moussed-up lawyer in Boston Legal, where he and William Shatner also gave one of the loveliest displays of male friendship in recent small-screen memory. (If you’re interested, Boston Legal was a spinoff of The Practice, a less sexy but still fantastic law series.) Come for the poignantly epic courtroom monologues of Spader’s Alan Shore, linger for Shatner’s Denny Crane shouting “DENNY CRANE!” at least twice per episode, and stay for Candice Bergen’s Shirley Schmidt being the HBIC.
Perhaps the sexiest law show of them all, did anyone actually tune into Ally McBeal to see how the firm’s court cases worked out? Nah. (Unless it gave Ally an a-ha! moment about her personal life.) We just wanted to see the sexual, and at times surprisingly surrealist, shenanigans of Calista Flockhart, Jane Krakowski, and Lucy Liu’s characters — long live that unisex bathroom — and maybe some love triangles, too. Chances are, you’ll never think of dancing babies or waddles the same way again.
Where to stream: Hulu
The Good Wife
Long may Julianna Margulies and her fabulous wigs reign. Taking inspiration from political sex scandals à la John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer, The Good Wife follows Alicia Florrick (Marguiles), an attorney turned stay-at-home mother who’s forced to return to the world of litigation when her husband Peter (Chris Noth), an Illinois state attorney, is caught with a double whammy of a prostitution and corruption scandal on his hands. Alicia’s new comrades and bedfellows at the law firm, such as Christine Baranski’s fierce senior partner Diane Lockhart, are there every step (and slap) of the way. If you want even more, the excellent Baranski-lead spin-off The Good Fight is currently airing on CBS All Access. It’s equally sexy!
How to Get Away With Murder
How nice of Viola Davis to make time out of her busy Oscars schedule to indulge us with this roller coaster of a Shondaland courtroom drama. In fact, Davis became the first African-American woman to win a lead dramatic Emmy for her portrayal of criminal-defense attorney Annalise Keating in How to Get Away With Murder, who jump-starts the series by recruiting five of the best first-year students to (1) assist her with difficult and fulfilling cases and (2) kill her lying, cheating husband. You know, just normal college stuff! Things evolve a lot from there, but know there’s always time for a good ole’ fashioned Annalise bang sesh against a wall.
Drop Dead Diva
Indulge us with this delightful silliness for a moment: A blonde, vapid model dies, gets transported to the pearly gates, is deemed neither inherently good or bad, and then manages to escape back to Earth with the push of a button … only to find herself inhabiting the body of a plus-sized, brunette lawyer (Brooke Elliott) as her comeuppance. Let the Drop Dead Diva fun begin! Lucky for this reincarnated model, she gets to retain her bubbly personality while still being one of the most component attorneys around. Because that’s just how the afterlife works.
“A fictionalized version of Dr. Phil’s early life” isn’t a log line that fills your sexiness quota, but Bull — currently airing on CBS — actually utilizes a unique lens when looking at the law world. And by that, not really looking at lawyers much at all. A cocksure psychologist and “trial science” expert with nice glasses, Dr. Jason Bull (Michael Weatherly) is the head of a jury-consulting firm who uses his many sets of skills to pair jurors with his clients so they have the best chance of winning their case. (They also get makeovers!) When his client finally hits the courtroom, the anticipation of whether his and his team’s work paid off is fun to see unfold.
A sitcom so wonderful, 30 Rock had to give it a mini revival. Night Court managed to make a romp out of one of the most gloomy jobs we can think of — the very unsexy New York City night-court circuit — thanks to Harry Anderson’s cheeky judge who could talk your ears off about everything from his love of magic to the music of Mel Tormé. John Larroquette is also there as a randy prosecutor alongside a carousel of lady public defenders, and the next thing you know, you’re laughing so hard that you forget all of these people are nocturnal.
Lest we forget the original Law Daddy. While Perry Mason itself doesn’t ooze that much sex appeal, we’d be remiss if we didn’t make a case for the very first legal drama of its kind. (As long as our case isn’t being represented by Hamilton Burger, that is.) Raymond Burr’s nine-season portrayal of the titular virtuoso attorney is complimented ever so beautifully by Barbara Hale’s loyal secretary — name a more iconic duo, we’ll wait — with the foxy William Hopper popping in and out as their private investigator of choice. If Perry sweeping up in court week after week isn’t sexy as all get out, then we don’t know what is. We love a reliable man in a suit!
Where to stream: CBS All Access