“The Good Fight” is taking on the provocative subject of a possible Trump impeachment in its second season, but in a way that skewers the fever among some Democrats to flip the House and Senate to the blue column and bring down the President.
The CBS All Access drama, which returns March 4, also plans an episode inspired by the sexual assault allegations leveled against now-disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein. The show will examine a reporter’s struggle to find an outlet to publish explosive charges — a nod to the criticism against NBC News for failing get behind the story that Ronan Farrow ultimately published in the New Yorker.
The episode revolves around “sexual charges against a liberal star that you wouldn’t expect to be charged. The lawsuits start to fly even before they broadcast it,” “Good Fight” exec producer Robert King told reporters Saturday at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif. Robert King was among a group of showrunners featured on a panel about tackling politics, gender concerns and social issues in TV. King’s partner, in life and on “Good Fight,” Michelle King was a panelist along with Jermaine Fowler of comedy “Superior Donuts,” Barbara Hall of “Madam Secretary,” Shawn Ryan of “SWAT,” and Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts of CBS All Access’ “Star Trek: Discovery.”
On impeachment, the predominantly African-American law firm at the center of the show will be among the firms vying with Democrats in Congress for the job of helping to prepare for an impeachment process. The aim is not to hammer Trump as much as it is to satirize the gung-ho determination of some Democrats and the possible over-confidence of winning big in November’s mid-term elections.
“We were satirizing the Democrats licking their chops at the possibility of turning the House over and impeachment,” King said. “It’s a satire of Democrats wanting to impeach a sitting president in a way that would make them angry if it were Republicans going after President Obama.”
More drama ensues when one of the African-American lawyers at the firm is “outed” as a Trump supporter, King added.
The showrunners on the panel said they never felt pressure from the network, whether CBS or CBS All Access, to shy away from political issues despite the polarization in the country at present. Hall said she made the creative decision to not identify a political party for the administration in power on the show that revolves around a female Secretary of State, played by Tea Leoni.
“We didn’t want to preach to the choir,” she said. The show’s meat and potatoes is “problem-solving” and understanding differences in culture and socioeconomic issues influence geopolitical conflicts. “Madam Secretary” was ahead of the curve two seasons ago in doing a storyline about Leoni’s Elizabeth McCord character being groped by a world leader. McCord struggles with the decision to publicly challenge him on the offense but opts not to in order to achieve her bigger-picture agenda.
“The episode did include the line ‘When do we get to be the bigger picture,’ ” Hall noted. “I guess we have our answer.”
On the subject of sexual harassment in Hollywood, Ryan said he has made a point of explicitly telling staffers on his shows, which at present include the NBC drama “Timeless,” that the need to ensure safety at all times on the set extends beyond stunts and elaborate shoots to the workplace culture.
“Safety includes a safe space for people to not feel harassed,” Ryan said. “I’ve felt in the last three to four months that it’s important for them to know that the person in charge deems it wholly unacceptable for the workplace environment to be hostile in any way.”
The discussion also turned to the question of diversity, in front of and behind the camera. CBS has come in for criticism that it has lagged other networks in bringing diversity to its lineup. Fowler, the only person of color on the panel, said he has made an effort to populate the “Superior Donuts” writers room with “some of the dopest writers from different walks of life. It has helped the show tremendously — it’s the best thing we’ve done for the show.”
Ryan said he saw an “opportunity” to bring “SWAT,” toplined by African-American actor Shemar Moore, to CBS. He is running the show with creator Aaron Thomas, who is African-American. (Thomas was scheduled to be on the panel but was unable to travel back from Ghana in time.)
“I knew they were thirsting to put this kind of material on the air,” Ryan said. He added that telling stories from the perspective of persons of color on CBS is a bigger opportunity than working on a niche cable or streaming outlet. “When you make a show for CBS you’re aiming to appeal to the entire breadth and width of the country,” he said.
Berg and Harberts pointed to the breakthrough on “Discovery” with the portrayal of the first gay relationship in the “Star Trek” universe. It was particularly meaningful that the two characters were not first defined for the audience as gay but rather as competent pros — a doctor and a scientist — with key positions on the starship. Their relationship was introduced matter-of-factly with little fanfare when the two were shown brushing their teeth together in the morning.
“We had them lead with competence,” Harberts said. “It was surprising the way the audience embraced them so quickly — it obviously touched a nerve in how people felt gay characters have been presented” in the past, he said.