How ‘The Good Fight,’ ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Rely on ‘Respect’ to Handle Sensitive Story Topics

Whether a television series deals overtly in the political times of the day, as in CBS All Access’ “The Good Fight,” or uses complicated subject matter such as race and identity in a more thematic or metaphorical way (as in the streamer’s “Star Trek: Discovery”), the key for writers and producers is to handle the topics with care.

“If we’re making interesting shows, we’re dealing with difficult topics,” said Michelle King, co-creator and co-showrunner of “The Good Fight” at the Television Critics Assn. press tour Wednesday. “And so, if you’re bringing up religion or politics, you have to make absolutely certain that everyone is speaking not only their beliefs, but also being respectful of everyone else.”

While King acknowledged that that’s not an easy thing to always accomplish, “it’s on us” as the leaders both in the writers’ room and of the shows in general.

“We need to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard,” added “Star Trek: Discovery” executive producer Michelle Paradise of her writers’ room process.

This becomes even more essential when “we are talking about tricky things or difficult subjects, things with multiple points of views, characters that could be perceived different ways,” she noted, because it is not just about the “messages we want to put out,” but also “having a space where people can share their feelings about that, raise potential red flags.”

Doing that kind of work in the safe space of the writers’ room is a kind of “pre-groundwork for the storytelling itself,” Paradise continued. “And then we just let the characters do the work for us.”

One of the messages of “Star Trek: Discovery” is “if we embrace our differences, if we can embrace our better selves, we can overcome anything,” so it is imperative such an attitude begins with those making the show, Paradise said.

For King, the conversations raised in the room are also often ones she wants to see raised among her audience. “It’s much too easy to create a villain who is racist or homophobic,” she said, noting that what “The Good Fight” endeavors to do is show that even the quote-unquote traditional heroes of the show have imperfect moments. She cited the moment when Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) “can’t remember the names of all the African American victims of police shootings but Matthew Shepard’s name comes to mind. Hopefully that’s something that keeps the audience thinking.”

Still, there are some lines these writers and producers don’t want to cross.

“I don’t want to do a story where a rape victim is lying,” said King. “That is not something I am interested in having my name on. Other shows can do it; that won’t come from our house.”

More TV

  • American Son review

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Releases 'American Son' Trailer

    In today’s TV news roundup, Netflix released the trailer for “American Son” starring Kerry Washington and first looks at Dolly Parton’s new anthology series, “Heartstrings.” FIRST LOOKS Netflix has released the trailer for “American Son,” which premieres Nov. 1 on the streaming service. Directed by Tony award-winner Kenny Leon, the film is based on the [...]

  • BBC's Little Mix Talent Show to

    BBC's Little Mix Talent Show to Be Produced by Management Firm's New Shingle, ModestTV

    The BBC has confirmed its Little Mix talent show, which the pop band’s management firm, Modest!, will produce through a new banner, ModestTV. “Little Mix The Search” will be exec produced by Andrea Hamilton, who has partnered with the management outfit to launch the new operation. Her entertainment show credits include “The Voice” and “Strictly [...]

  • Monica Beletsky Apple TV Plus

    Apple Sets Overall Deal With Monica Beletsky

    Monica Beletsky is the latest of a small group of content creators to set an overall deal with Apple and their streaming platform, Apple TV Plus. Under the multi-year deal, Beletsky will develop and produce television series exclusively for the streamer. This is the first overall of Beletsky’s career. Her previous credits include “Fargo,” “Friday [...]

  • Saladin Patterson

    Saladin Patterson Inks Overall Deal at 20th Century Fox Television

    Saladin Patterson has signed an overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. Under the multi-year deal, Patterson will develop, write and produce comedy series for network, cable and streaming platforms. He was previously under a development deal at the studio earlier in his career. Patterson is currently an executive producer on the upcoming FX series [...]

  • Lenny Abrahamson and 'The Favourite' Producer

    'Room' Director Lenny Abrahamson and 'The Favourite' Producer Ed Guiney Present Their BBC-Hulu Series 'Normal People' (EXCLUSIVE)

    At TV market Mipcom in Cannes this week the team behind BBC-Hulu series “Normal People” – led by Lenny Abrahamson, the Oscar nominated director of “Room” – presented the first footage from the show, and explained how they approached the adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel. Variety had exclusive access to the presentation. Ed Guiney, one [...]

  • El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

    ‘El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie’ Scores 6.5 Million Viewers Across First Weekend

    “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which dropped on Netflix Oct. 11, drew around 6.5 million total viewers in its first three days on the streaming platform, according to Nielsen. The movie also reached just under 8.2 million unique TV viewers. “El Camino” unsurprisingly drew its biggest audience of the three days on day 1, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content