I didn’t watch The Good Wife (2009-2016) when it first started to air. It took Stage-4 Cancer and an extended stay in the hospital to make me a fan, when in a rare hour of quiet, I watched an episode and I was gobsmacked. Of course, I was also on a Morphine drip.
When I was at last back home, The Husband and I watched 133 episodes to catch up, starting with the pilot, sometimes watching four a day. I began a list of Broadway actors who were making guest appearances, some with a story arc that lasted for several episodes, some returning from time to time, several who are series regulars and some just doing tiny bits.
Here is the list, incomplete because I ran out of steam at some point.
David Hyde Pierce
F. Murray Abraham
Mary Beth Peil
Anika Noni Rose
When the series wrapped-up its seven-year run, I wasn’t so disappointed. It left at a good time, never equaling its roller coaster ride of a fifth season, but always engrossing.
I was not unhappy when it was announced that there would be spinoff of The Good Wife. The Good Fight picks up where its legal procedural predecessor left off. Diane Lockhart (Broadway’s Christine Baranski) decides to retire, leaving behind the law firm she helped start to move by herself to France and write a book. But, everything changes when old friend, Henry Rindell (Paul Guilfoyle), loses her retirement savings in a Ponzi scheme. The press labels Rindell the “next Bernie Madoff.”
I am just zany for Baranski, and it is wonderful to have her back on series television only months after The Good Wife had ended. But, smartly the spinoff focuses on new characters.
Maia Rindell is played by Rose Leslie, who you might recognize from Game Of Thrones and Downton Abbey. She has just started at Lockhart/Agos & Lee, the law firm Lockhart is leaving. When her father is arrested, Maia is harassed by strangers who blame her for their misfortune. Even Diane, her godmother, can’t look Maia in the eye. It is a clever beginning. In its pilot, The Good Wife starts after Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), the State Attorney for Cook County, is accused of misusing public funds to hire prostitutes. After going to prison, his stay-at-home wife, Alicia (Julianna Margulies), is forced to return to her law practice. She is shunned in public.
The pilot for The Good Fight echoes its predecessor, but, unlike The Good Wife, it focuses on a same-sex relationship from the start. Maia’s girlfriend is Amy (Heléne Yorke), also a lawyer. They are introduced to the audience as they passionately make-out in the shower after Maia passes her bar exams. It is just a small moment but a big step for television.
Lately, LGBTQ characters have been well represented on primetime television: Luisa (Yara Martinez) on Jane The Virgin, and Connor (Jack Falahee) on How To Get Away With Murder. There have even been queer characters in the leading role: Kenny (Noah Galvin), a gay Catholic high school student on the just canceled The Real O’Neals; and Annalise (Viola Davis), a bisexual law professor are among the very few who are the center of a show. Last year, GLAAD found that only five percent of characters on network series are LGBTQ. But most of these characters remain supporting or guest roles.
Maia’s storyline is the focal point of The Good Fight, and that is revolutionary. Executive producers Michele and Robert King, took some heat when The Good Wife’s best character, Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi) teased the audience with being bisexual. Panjabi was the first member of the main cast to win an Emmy Award, playing the emotionally remote private investigator with a thing for a leather wardrobe. But the series never found anything interesting for her to do with her sex life as the show progressed, often throwing Kalinda into bed with the nearest character, male or female.
The Good Fight seemed so promising that I upgraded my Apple TV so I could subscribe to CBS All-Access, the streaming service that offered the 10-episode series. You can’t catch it on traditional network airings. Still, streaming services like Amazon and Netflix allow for LGBTQ characters to go farther than any others shows in the history of broadcast television. CBS All-Access will also stream Star Trek: Discovery later this year. It is set to feature a black female lead and gay crew members.
Amazon’s Transparent and One Mississippi and Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black feature queer protagonists in complex, nuanced relationships. Transparent is about a transgender woman and has two generations of LGBTQ women with storylines.
There are more LGBTQ characters on streaming services than broadcast television, even though that are fewer shows. GLAAD claims 65 queer series regulars and recurring characters on Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. CBS aired the first episode of The Good Fight on network television to entice viewers to make the switch to streaming.
The terrific and terrifically named British actor Cush Jumbo is also a lead on The Good Fight, reprising her role as Lucca Quinn in the Good Wife. Gay Icon Bernadette Peters has a recurring role. Cutie pie Justin Bartha, who played gay on Ryan Murphy’s The New Normal (2012-13) has nice supporting role, as do gay actors, Jane Lynch, John Cameron Mitchell (as a thinly disguised Milo Yiannopoulos), John Benjamin Hickey, and Anthony Rapp, all Broadway veterans.
Most of The Good Wife’s regulars are back, but Julianna Margulies’ Alicia Florrick does not appear, although she has hinted that she might show up next season.