SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “The Gang Deals With Alternate Reality,” the fourth season premiere of “The Good Fight.”
The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of things — not even if Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 presidential election.
That is the message Robert and Michelle King, co-creators and co-showrunners of “The Good Fight,” wanted to impart with the fourth season premiere episode entitled “The Gang Deals With Alternate Reality.”
In the episode, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) finds herself in a world where it was Hillary Clinton that won in 2016. Mysteriously, Diane still has her memories of what it was like when Trump was president, but no one else around her does. She tries to chalk it up to one of those really bad dreams she can’t quite shake, but soon enough she begins to notice that things are different, but not entirely better — at least for women.
“The show is often thought of as more liberal than conservative, and so what we wanted to do was have the first act be where you think you’re in a liberal wet dream of cancer is cured and the rainforests are safe and there are so many polar bears they’re coming down to Canada,” Robert King tells Variety. “But then that’s mixed in with the sense of raising up small scandals to the level of massive scandal — the travel office in Clinton’s years. To get Diane into thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is a dream of a world’ and then realize with every silver lining comes this very, very dark cloud. We wanted to do a thought experiment on if #MeToo had never happened.”
In this world, the #MeToo movement never happened, so not only are men like Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer still employed, but Diane has actually been hired to represent Weinstein in an entertainment law case. (He feels he was so instrumental to the success of the “Snowpiercer” film, he wants a stake in the television adaptation.) Every time she brings up the allegations against him, they are dismissed as just rumors.
“We wanted to be a little bit logical about it. Of course initially it seemed like nirvana that Hillary won the election, but then we wanted to think through, logically, what would the negative consequences have been — and there would have been a lot of vile men still doing vile things,” says Michelle King. “Don’t kid yourselves that things would have been perfect another way.”
Eventually Diane decides to take matters into her own hands and try to get the #MeToo movement started herself. On the red carpet of a gala for a women’s movement that is taking place, she speaks out about the work Tarana Burke is doing and tries to implore women to tell their stories. But her quotes are not run in full in the news package so no one hears Burke’s name — and she is later reprimanded for telling women to get angry.
“Diane’s got an uphill battle. I don’t think you can start #MeToo from a dead stop,” Robert King says. “Articles and Trump getting elected, let’s be honest, started an avalanche that changed the zeitgeist, and the show makes a point that it’s difficult to battle the zeitgeist unless you have the law on your side.”
In order to craft what such a world would look like, the Kings and their writers’ room focused on Google searches “that were framed by anything before October 2017,” Robert King continues. “It’s amazing — everyone thinks they are enlightened and woke now, but if you just went back, some of those same voices were saying the exact opposite.”
Additionally, research into Weinstein’s relationship with the Clintons, pre-#MeToo, further fleshed out the story. “Weinstein was friends with the Clinton, so Weinstein would have helped Hillary get elected and therefore gotten the National Medal of Honor for the Arts,” Robert King says, noting those anecdotes were included in the episode. “We were just playing those games of, ‘OK in the reality of Hillary being elected and there not being a #MeToo, what would have happened to Weinstein?’ It would have been mostly good because he was friends with the president.”
Diane doesn’t get too wrapped up in trying to change things, though, as she soon enough realizes she has not seen her husband in days. When she finds him shrouded in shadows in the woods, concerned the government will now come for his guns, she promises to stand by him, but the haziness of the experience makes her realize this world isn’t real. Further backing up that new theory is a repairman who tells her he, too, also remembers a world where Trump is president.
Although at first glance the episode looks like a standalone, it ties into the bigger arc of Diane’s work with the radical leftist group from the third season. At the end of that season, SWAT was headed her way, and it turns out that she got knocked unconscious when they stormed into the apartment. Everything that was happening in the alternate world was really just happening in Diane’s head.
This focused the story onto “issues that were all important to Diane,” Michelle King notes. It also limited the actions of the other characters to be more reactionary to what they perceive as new and surprising behavior from Diane, creating more of a vehicle for Baranski.
“She’s not used to living in that world, so she just spouts out,” Robert King points out, citing how she brings up the law firm of Reddick, Boseman & Lockhart’s own #MeToo issues. “It’s not all Weinsteins out there; it’s the skeletons in our own closets.”
Diane’s experience in that world may not have been real, but the lessons she learned and the feelings she felt will still linger with her as the fourth season continues, the Kings say. Robert King shares that “The Wizard of Oz” was a film discussed often in the writers’ room this season.
“What would have been the change in Dorothy once she woke up? How does she behave?” he says. “It’s not really about beating the Trump administration, it’s kind of about, ‘How do you take what is a very interesting and dark time and bring light to it?'” The “it” in this case, he clarifies, is a “battle with the law.”
Adds Michelle King: “We’ve seen a growth in Diane: She’s just become more courageous as every day passes. She recognizes that she needs to be the solution and she moves forward accordingly.”
“The Good Fight” streams new episodes Thursdays on CBS All Access.