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The Good Fight successfully broke away from its broadcast network predecessor by becoming one of the first series to embrace the Trump era on the small screen. But now heading into season two, The Good Wife spinoff is facing a new challenge: Trump fatigue.
“The idea that all these shows, that our culture, is being inundated by national politics and especially the presidency: movies, theater, poetry — you’re seeing it everywhere so the show wanted to address that too,” co-creator and co-showrunner Robert King tells The Hollywood Reporter. “How can you escape it? How do you find your space in your life for something other than those national politics? How do you stay sane?”
Production was midway through the premiere episode of the CBS All Access drama when Donald Trump shockingly defeated Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8. Robert and his wife, co-creator and co-showrunner Michelle King, subsequently rewrote the opening of the episode to show Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) watching in horror as the former Celebrity Apprentice host is sworn in as commander in chief. Subsequent episodes tackled popular Trump era topics such as fake news, free speech and even took a few jabs at the president’s Twitter account.
However, since season one wrapped in April, the number of shows tackling the current administration has risen dramatically, which is why the Kings are taking a different, specifically less direct, approach in season two.
“I happen to love the first two episodes because it doesn’t address the Trump world directly,” Baranski says. “And yet the mood of the first two episodes is very much the mood of, I think, the collective psyche of the country right now in terms of a darkness and exhaustion.”
That will be especially true for Diane, who is just starting to find her bearings at her new law firm and is also just beginning to rebuild her marriage to Kurt McVeigh (Gary Cole) after they nearly divorced in season one over allegations of his infidelity.
“It will actually be about Diane having to figure out how either to remain idealistic in this dark universe that we’re living in,” says Baranski. “She’s going to have issues in her marriage because her husband’s not around enough. Is he going to be a presence in her life? Where is she going? She’s a woman like so many people right now wondering, in an existential way, what is the point of all this? She’s asking very big philosophical existential questions.”
Diane won’t be the only facing tough questions in season two. After she was arrested in the final moments of the season one finale, Maia (Rose Leslie) will have a lot to think about when she faces trial in season two for her connection to her parents’ Ponzi scheme.
“There needed to be a point, I felt, thereby Maia was no longer going to continue victimizing herself. There had to be a point of her confronting everything that was in front of her and realizing that… her father is never going to change,” Leslie says. “Either she cuts him out of her life or is she forever going to be beholden to the Rindell name, to the scandal and never move on from it. I felt it was a very positive, healthy move for Maia to have this trial happen.”
Maia will have already spent time behind bars when season two picks up, but unlike Cary Agos‘ jail stint during season six of The Good Wife, Maia won’t appear in an orange jumpsuit. “It is just me in my office clothes which once again are incredibly fitted and flattering so no complaints from me,” Leslie says with a laugh.
However, Maia (and subsequently Leslie) will be sporting an electronic ankle monitor. Leslie called wearing the monitor an “incredibly sobering” experience. “Knowing that I can feel that weight on my leg every day is a very nice constant reminder for me as an actress,” she says.
On the bright side for Maia, however, “there is a strengthening to her,” Leslie explains. “It’s given way to a hardening of sorts and we see that reflected in her body language.”
Cush Jumbo, whose character Lucca Quinn serves as Maia’s attorney, is also excited to see what’s to come for Maia as she emerges from the shadow of the scandal. “The storyline of Maia being dragged into her parents’ scandal is going to be wrapped up in a really brilliant way which I think is going to enable us to start to see her as her own person and not just an extended version of her family,” Jumbo says.
Robert promises “no one will be disappointed or left hanging” when it comes to the Rindell family saga, “but we also were aware of wanting other stories to dominate too so you’ll see it answered in what we think is a very satisfying way. It will not be dramatically thrown aside. It is there, it’s part of Maia’s makeup.”
Leslie defended the Kings’ decision to shift away from that storyline in season two. “Certainly the Kings felt the story had been explored in all the ways that it could have been within season one,” she says. “They felt it was the right time to move on from this particular storyline because otherwise you’re just going to drown with the negativity and the disappointment of your parents betraying you.”
That story shift will also allow more real estate for other stories and more time for “digging deeper into supporting characters” in season two, says Robert, like Sarah Steele’s Marissa Gold, who has a big episode coming up.
Season two, which expands to 13 episodes, will also be more serialized — a change inspired by three new writers brought in for season two with whom the Kings had worked with on their sci-fi summer series BrainDead.
“They were watching the episodes in binge fashion and they were commenting that as much as they liked the episodes, they also wanted more of a sense that it could be binged. So we agreed,” Robert says. “We moved away from Good Wife and more into a serialized way of looking at things, but I think we can go even further and make it something that could be watched more novelistically.”
Baranski echoes that sentiment when discussing season two: “We’ve already established this new world of where The Good Fight has gone since the post-Good Wife experience for viewers. They’re now invested in The Good Fight and now we can just dig our heels in and really explore this world.”
The Good Fight returns for season two in early 2018.
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