‘Good Wife’ Creators Say ‘Good Fight’ Spinoff Will Reflect Trump-Era ‘Cultural Shifts’

Cynthia Littleton
Variety

The dawn of Donald Trump’s presidency is a plus for “The Good Fight,” the “Good Wife” spinoff starring Christine Baranski that is set to bow in February.

“Good Wife” creators Robert and Michelle King said Thursday “Good Fight” will feature Baranski’s Diane Lockhart character grappling with the cultural changes evidenced by Trump’s surprise win.

“With Trump and the cultural shifts we’re seeing we’re really excited — there’s a strong rationale for the show,” Robert King said during a Q&A at the Scripted television conference in New York. “Good Fight” is scheduled to bow on the CBS All Access SVOD service in February.

The series will explore the climate change in the country, not just the political upheaval that Trump represents but the fact that the country is “possibly accepting of a cruder culture,” Robert King said.

Robert King also emphasized that “Good Fight” will stand on its own from “Good Wife,” the Julianna Margulies starrer that wrapped its seven-season run in May.

“ ‘Good Fight’ is so not ‘The Good Wife,’ ” he said during the Q&A conducted by Christina Davis, CBS’ exec VP of drama development.

“Good Fight” picks up a year after the events in the finale of “Good Wife.” Lockhart’s law firm winds up in a three-way merger that includes Cush Jumbo’s Lucca Quinn, after Margulies’ Alicia Florrick bails out of a plan to launch a new firm with Quinn.

After the dramatic events of the “Good Wife” finale, in which Florrick betrays Lockhart, Florrick doesn’t have the drive to launch yet another firm. “Her heart’s not in it. She needs time for reflection,” Robert King said. “I don’t think she’s in a good place with Trump winning.”

The Kings offered other thoughts about what happened to Alicia after Lockhart delivered her now-famous slap in the finale. Yes, Alicia wound up in a long-term relationship with Jason Crouse, the character played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Robert King called him “the baseball bat guy,” a reference to the brutal villain that Morgan now plays on “The Walking Dead.”

Robert King admitted that they worried about whether the “Good Wife” finale was clear enough on Alicia’s fate. At the last minute they tried to bring Morgan back to shoot a quick scene that would have made the status of the Alicia-Jason relationship crystal clear. But Morgan couldn’t get out of work on “Walking Dead” in Atlanta. And in hindsight King predicts that a shot of “Alicia falling into the arms of (Jason) would have been “too much of a cop-out.”

The Kings’ initial vision for the ending was to fade out on Alicia with tears in her eyes immediately after the slap. They wound up shooting her walking alone down a hallway, with a musical swell added to suggest hope for the character.

“We thought it was more optimistic to suggest that Alicia could realize ‘Oh my god I’ve become him,’ ” King said, referring to Alicia’s husband, Peter. “I don’t think people wanted a sad ending to the Alicia story.” But they also wanted to address the “tragic side” of the character.

“The education of Alicia Florrick was a tragedy,” Robert King said. “It’s about a woman who becomes what she hates. She was willing to hurt someone in the same way that she was hurt at the beginning,” she said.

In other tidbits from the session:

  • The Kings were initially told that CBS passed on their “Good Wife” pitch in 2008. But that was because of a disagreement between Davis and the co-head of drama development, Robert Zotnowski. Davis ultimately persuaded her partner to change his mind.
  • The first wig made for Margulies as Florrick was crafted in Paris and flown over just in time to shoot the pilot. “The wig had its own seat,” Michelle King said.
  • The Kings took over “Good Wife” as showrunners after episode nine of season one. They conceived the idea of the slap that became the series finale around the same time, because they didn’t expect to last beyond the first 13 episodes.
  • For the first four seasons, the number of words in “Good Wife” episode titles matched the season number. But starting in season five, the word count went down to three, and then to two in season six and back to one in season seven. This numerology indicated the Kings’ expectation that their time on the show would end with season seven.
  • The most important storytelling tenet of “Good Wife” was the fact that it was the lives and motivations of the lawyers, not the clients or the cases, that were the central focus of the show. “It was a law show that was trying not to be a law show,” Robert King said.

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