By Chancellor Agard
May 07, 2020 at 10:00 AM EDT
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Patrick Harbron/CBS

The Good Fight, like its predecessor, is nominally set in Chicago. But often, it feels like it’s set in New York City, which is where it films, and is made for a New York audience — from the stories it tells to the many Broadway actors that guest-star. That feeling was very strong in this Thursday’s episode, “The Gang Gets Satirized and Doesn’t Like It,” which features a play that, well, satirizes RBL and is clearly inspired by (and not based on) Jeremy O. Harris’ provocative Broadway show Slave Play. As many other TV journalists have pointed out about this story, it’s a very New York. I live in Los Angeles and haven't seen Slave Play, which means some of the subtleties of the send-up may have been lost on me; however, I still loved it because it pushes the show into some meta, funny, and sexy places.

The hour begins with RBL’s client Duncan Herz storming into the firm because he’s pissed off about a play called C**ksuckers In Chains, which features confidential details from his divorce. “I want to Gawker these a--holes off the stage,” he declares, which made laugh because that line is too real. Unfortunately, that creates a challenge for the titular gang because they realize he could sue them once they discover that the playwright is Jumanee Jenkins, a.k.a. Alan North, the associate they fired for drug use last season.

From there, Adrian, Liz, Caleb, Diane, and everyone else at the firm heads to Not-Broadway to see the play, which viciously satirizes the gang and the racial and power dynamics in the firm (The real Slave Play also explored race, power, and sexuality, but through the therapy sessions involving three interracial couples). In the very wild story, Not-Adrian is depicted as being a masochist that loves being dominated by Not-Diane, whose whiteness has ruined the traditionally black firm. Elsewhere, Not-Liz sings a hilariously melodramatic song about her father’s sexual assault scandal, and Not-Julius monologues about how the legal system is under attack.

The Good Fight apes other aspects of Slave Play, too. For example, there's a talkback with Jumanee after the curtain falls, which is similar to post-show discussions Slave Play held. During one of those Q&As, a white woman gets up and accuses Jumanee’s reverse racism because she feels like the play ignores her perspective as white rape victim. “I’m not here to say you’re not marginalized,” he tells her. That’s almost exactly how Harris responded to a Caucasian woman who hurled a similar criticism at him during a Q&A last November, an exchange that was captured on video. And man, I love how specific this reference is. It’s like the Kings trust the audience to keep up even if they don’t get it or to do some research.

Needless to say, the play gives everyone a lot to think about, and their reactions reminded me of how Community’s study group responded discovering Abed’s eerily predictive TV show project about them in season 1. First, there’s Adrian, who balks at being depicted as being subservient to Diane and takes issue when she ignores his advice to dropping the Memo 618 investigation because it doesn’t help their bottom-line. Moreover, he’s also likely pissed because the show also paints him as someone who is torn between being black and seeking social justice, and making money, which is a very accurate characterization of Adrian because that’s been his struggle for the past couple of seasons. Of course, this is also a variation on a theme The Good Wife tackled, too, which is that money and power often trounce a person’s values.

That being said, Liz has the most surprising reaction to the play. Liz and Caleb start digging through Jumanee’s old drafts to see if they can find proof that his characters are based on them and not composites, as Jumanee claims. Working late one night, both of them reach a place in the script where Not-Liz tells a white associate she’s never been with a white person and proceeds to have very rough sex with him. Of course, reading this scene stirs up something between Liz and Caleb and things get awkward. The next day, Liz imagines Not-Liz musically egging her on to hook up with Caleb (“White boys are so groovy/White boys are so tough/Every time they’re near me, I just can’t enough,” Not-Liz sings) — and Liz does, which a first for both her and Caleb since neither of them have ever been with someone of the opposite race. Afterward, Liz feels very weird about it because she's his boss.

While Liz and Caleb’s hook-up isn’t shown, we do spend some time exploring Diane’s sexual relationship with Kurt. After seeing the play, Diane and Kurt have the best sex they’ve ever had (Diane’s words). Eventually, Diane starts fearing that Kurt may have been turned on by seeing her dominate a black man, but imaginary Not-Diane tells her he likely just enjoyed their sex that night because it was different. So, Diane takes that as cue for her to dress up in a sexy leather cowgirl outfit, which Kurt definitely enjoys.

Diane’s mind wasn’t completely on sex in this episode, though. Meanwhile, she also continued investigating Memo 618, which led her to meet STR Laurie’s douchy top litigator, Brian Kneef (Raùl Esparza), who was responsible for blocking her internet access. While Brian refuses to answer any of her questions about Memo 618 (he repeatedly tells Diane it’s her a--), Diane does appear to gain an ally in Gavin, who admits he sometimes feels like he doesn’t know what’s going on in his own firm after Diane tells him about the Memo 618 business.

The Trump administration or someone catches wind of Diane’s investigation. So, they send someone to intimidate Kurt into making Diane stop. Of course, Kurt throws the man out of his office; however, he also tells Diane he’s worried about her. So Diane agrees to drop it. Spoiler alert: She probably won’t.

Overall, I really enjoyed this episode. Four episodes in it seems as though The Good Fight is trying to prove that it’s not just one thing. Yes, it can tell very political stories about Trump’s America, but it can also tell entertaining and thought-provoking ones about character, which it did with the satirical play.

Sidebar:

  • One of my favorite details in this episode is the music, which is superb as always. Whenever Gavin summons the RBL lawyers venture upstairs, their journey is usually accompanied by some Renaissance Fair-like music that reminds you of the power imbalance between them and STR Laurie. However, Diane gets a propulsive accompaniment because she goes up there without an invitation. It’s these small details that make me love the show.
  • Seeing the play convinces Julius to stand up for what he believes him and not cow down to the Memo 618-cabal that’s pressuring him.
  • Of course, David Lee thought the play was very funny.
  • Gavin reminds Lucca that the rich “aren’t like us” and pushes Lucca to fly to St. Lucia and see Bianca.

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Episode Recaps

The Good Fight

type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 3
rating
network
  • CBS All Access

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