The Good Fight co-creators Michelle and Robert King thought they “wouldn’t even mention” Donald Trump’s name during the second season of their CBS All Access legal drama. However, when the ex-Celebrity Apprentice host triumphed over Hillary Clinton in 2016’s presidential race, the TV writing duo felt they had no other choice but to venture deep into Trump’s America for the sake of their show.
Michelle and Robert King opened up on Saturday about continuing to incorporate Trump’s controversial administration into Diane Lockhart’s (Christine Baranski) narrative during a Tribeca Talks Masterclass Showrunners and Writing for TV panel at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival.
“It wasn’t intended to be as political as it became. But then once Trump was elected, first of all, that was all anyone was talking about, and these characters are very real to us,” Michelle King said. “So we knew what Diane’s politics were. She’s an avowed liberal. There was no way she was going to be talking about anything else. It just felt very natural to write it into the show.”
According to Robert King, the show’s cast and writers were originally looking forward to celebrating Clinton’s victory on the small screen.
“When we were filming the pilot episode of this new show, The Good Fight, in late October or early November , we were about 10 days into the shooting when the election happened. The polls were predicting that Hillary would win. There was already this plan,” he revealed. “There’s this photo behind Diane’s desk of her posing with Hillary Clinton. There was this sense that the last glass ceiling had shattered, so now she could relax. That was the original intent.”
Robert King — who co-created The Good Fight‘s predecessor, The Good Wife, with wife Michelle — continued: “And then when we were shooting, it was like, ‘Oh, wait. That’s no longer.’ So we re-wrote the scene that we shot a few weeks later, which is her watching the inauguration of Trump. And she has this realization that she can’t live with the world anymore. She’s just disgusted.”
While they considered stripping The Good Fight‘s second season of any Trump-related drama, Michelle and Robert King eventually agreed that would be an impossible feat in 2018’s political climate.
“After the first season, we thought this season wouldn’t even mention his name,” Robert King said. “We thought the show needed to be optimistic, because everything was sort of darkening out on the progressive side. Then we went in the writers room and everybody wanted to talk about it.”
Michelle added: “We were determined not to fall into [Trump fatigue], and then we just dived in.”
Indeed, since season two premiered in early March, The Good Fight has already covered a handful of Trump-centric, ripped-from-the-headlines storylines. Most recently, on Sunday night’s episode, Reddick, Boseman & Lockhart got drawn into a “pee tape” controversy — an obvious reference to the infamous Steele dossier, which claims there is a recording of Trump engaging in certain sexual acts with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel in 2013. (He has denied the allegations.)
Robert said on Saturday that he and Michelle “tried to make [the news cycle on The Good Fight] a little absurd” to match the current nature of real-life news.
“Christine Baranski’s character, Diane, just starts to become incredibly depressed about the world and obsessed with it. She’s watching news reports and she’s not sure whether they’re real. They start to become a little psychedelic,” he explained. “There’s a report about the president keeping a potbelly pig in the White House map room, and she’s not sure whether that’s a real story.”
Back in March, Robert King opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about the importance — and the challenge — of working current events into a scripted series.
“The news cycle is packed with so many more stories than it used to be. Especially on All Access, we’re even further behind the ball in a way. We started shooting in October and through late April,” he said of filming season two of The Good Fight. “With The Good Wife, we were close enough to the time of shooting where we could rejigger and not be trapped in a concept. The news is coming so much faster, and you don’t want to be the last one in line to comment on something.”
The Good Fight is available to stream on CBS All Access.