Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
In this week’s episode, Variety‘s managing editor of TV, Cynthia Littleton, talks with the creators and stars of CBS All Access’ “The Good Fight.”
The wide-ranging conversation with co-creators and co-showrunners Robert King and Michelle King, and stars Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald, and Delroy Lindo touches on everything from the evolution of the series in its second season to the mood of the country in the age of Trump to the show’s recent tip of the hat to “Schoolhouse Rock.”
“Good Fight” went right to the heart of the nation’s political convulsions in tackling head-on the question of whether there are genuine grounds for impeachment of President Donald Trump. The show characteristically skewers zealots on both sides of the aisle. It even went so far as to produce a two-minute animated sequence for the “Schoolhouse Rock”-esque song “Nobody’s Above the Law” explaining the actual process of bringing articles of impeachment.
Robert King said the segment, which was included in the seventh episode of Season 2, “Day 450,” was born in part of the fact that the show found itself in the unusual position of having “a little bit of money” leftover and wanted to put it to good use. They tapped singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton to pen an original tune and engaged an animation shop. “We didn’t even tell CBS we were doing it,” King said.
“Good Fight” revolves around the barristers at a predominantly African-American firm in Chicago where Baranski’s Diane Lockhart, formerly of “The Good Wife,” winds up after falling from grace in a financial scandal. The mix of personalities at the firm makes it a perfect vehicle for examining the urban intelligentsia’s visceral disdain for all that President Trump has come to represent.
Traditionally, TV series have shied away from focusing too much on up-to-the-minute headlines in order to keep the show from feeling dated in its rerun life. But these are not traditional times. “Good Fight” actors love the challenge of responding to the cultural moment and maintaining a sense of objectivity.
“This show has found very creative ways of negotiating that which is topical,” Lindo said. “I don’t think about the (timeliness of the) topics per se, I just respond to what’s on the page as an actor, as I would to any other material.”
McDonald, who joined the cast for season two, hailed “the brilliance” of the Kings work as writers and showrunners and their lack of overt partisanship. She was prepared for the possibility that her character might be a Trump supporter. “That’s when you really call on your craft as an actor,” she joked.
Baranski said she feels pressure to keep up with what she called “a mind-boggling amount of news” in order to stay sharp in her role as Lockhart. “She’s rightfully horrified and going a little nuts,” Baranski said of Lockhart. “She becomes unhinged” at times in Season 2, she added.
Behind the scenes, however, Baranski enthused about the extremely professional working environment that the show maintains with top-tier actors coming through every episode.
“I’ve never been on a set where there’s that level of commitment and preparation,” Baranski said. “There’s no jerking around. People come in and they work and they’re happy and it’s beautiful.”
(Pictured: Robert King, Audra McDonald, Michelle King, Christine Baranski, and Delroy Lindo)
You can listen to this week’s podcast here: