Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Good Fight 6×01.
The problem with The Good Fight 6×01 isn’t that it feels alarmingly familiar. After all, that’s the gag. Everything old is new again, and Diane Lockhart is going through it with this idea of being stuck on a “hamster wheel,” as she describes it. It’s not even that both Diane and Liz say some…we’ll go with questionable…things to defend Chumhum. That’s the job. It is what it is, whether it’s aggravating or not.
Actually, this season premiere is, overall, quite good. It establishes some friendships — or, at the very least, working partnerships — as stronger than ever and others as gratingly one-sided. And it introduces Andre Braugher as the delightfully bizarre and entertaining Ri’Chard Lane in grand fashion. Not to mention, Carmen Moyo is more capable than ever and completely done with everyone’s bullshit — specifically Marissa’s. (See also: gratingly one-sided.)
Ben: Son. Baruch: Blessed. Hebrew.
No, the problem with “The Beginning of the End” isn’t really a problem with The Good Fight specifically. Or maybe the better way of putting it is to say that it’s probably not something this premiere, or this season overall, intended to do. And this series certainly isn’t alone here. Not at all.
It’s a bigger problem in entertainment and one that, quite frankly, I’m exhausted to death of — and, unfortunately, it has to keep any overall opinion I might have from being the glowing endorsement I want it to be.
The problem is Ben-Baruch and the stereotypes he perpetuates. Ah, yes. The all powerful, hella-rich villain, who has about the most Jewish name you could ever come up with. Mazel tov. We are, in fact, evilly controlling all the things, capable of arranging murders while behind bars. Even a prison can’t contain us. You caught us.
Now, normally, I’d be able to point to Marissa Gold as the flip side of that coin and proof that The Good Fight 6×01 didn’t introduce the very, very bad man as the only Jew. And having her as a counterpoint would soften the blow. We’ve loved Marissa for a very long time, and her “deja vu” unpacking scene with Diane is laugh out loud funny.
But, well. What’s Marissa up to in The Good Fight 6×01? Failing in the courtroom, failing to have any respect for Carmen’s boundaries or the fact that her problems aren’t the only important thing in the universe…And calling her rich, powerful daddy for help when it all goes wrong.
Put this on the heels of A League of Their Own‘s absolutely horrendous Shirley Cohen character, and it’s not a particularly fun time for Jews in the
Metaverse streaming landscape.
But, just as dismissing all the good about that other series because of one (admittedly painful) wrong turn would be a great disservice to the people it does justice for, counting The Good Fight out — even counting this sixth season premiere itself out — solely because of its misstep would also be unfair.
It just sucks that we always have to let this kind of things go. Or whatever. And, again, it’s not that Ben-Baruch is bad — it’s the type of bad, in very specific details.
Initially, when Diane Lockhart comes back from her long vacation, Liz Reddick is happy to see her. They’re partners, and Diane is happy to (literally) step down(stairs). It’s friendly; they’re in this together. Liz even defends Diane to Madeline Gilford, when she bluntly asks abut Diane being “ready to sabotage” her.
But the second STR Laurie suggests the firm needs a new name partner, Liz assumes that means Diane has made some kind of power play — again. And it’s not a function of Liz being paranoid or catty either. There’s plenty of evidence, both between some of Diane’s past actions and the literal picture of her husband hunting with the bosses, to suggest Diane is…gonna Diane, if you will.
Enter Ri’Chard Lane.
Which, it bears repeating: This new character is so much fun. Is he a good guy? Eh, probably not. At the very least, he’s coming in, shaking things up, and not at all what you’d expect. He’s there to exasperate Julius with his every move, to wear some of the most fashionable glasses to ever exist, and make an entrance whenever he steps into a room. Plus, there’s all the telling the Jesus how much ass he’s going to kick.
In The Good Fight 6×01, the new guy walks in and makes himself at home — right in the conference room and even sprawled across the couch when Liz confronts the STR Laurie guys about…him.
So, Diane’s reliving the past. Liz is thinking she’s also reliving Diane’s past. And Ri’Chard is the present, both temporally and in general. He is a present — a gift — because Braugher does that. The question is whether the character is a villain or a mere rival. You’ll obviously have to continue this season 6 journey with us to find the answer to that one, though.
If nothing else, Lane is a reminder that it doesn’t matter how good a woman like Liz is at her job — men are always going to want another man there to make her “better.” In the process, we’re almost always set up to be rivals with each other. Luckily, at least this time, Diane is not only unbothered when she sees there’s tension, but Liz apologizes, in her own way, for both her assumptions and the resulting tension they caused. Plus, there’s wine.
We could’ve gone the season-long arc of cattiness route. Instead, The Good Fight 6×01 seems to get itself off TV’s neverending wheel, so to speak, with some good ol’ fashioned rationality in an otherwise irrational world. We’ll take it.
More thoughts on The Good Fight 6×01
- The protests. The grenade. YIKES. We’re in trouble, gang.
- “Fantastic. But I needed another month.” You see, you need a vacation to recover from your vacation. That’s just life!
- Sarah Steele and Christine Baranski: Comedy goddesses. Give them a sitcom together, you cowards!
- The birds! A throwback.
- “Don’t pretend to play on our feminist conscience.” Me @ TERFs.
- Buuuuut counterpoint to the out-of-touch shit my girls say about this lawsuit: Let’s pretend we agree with the whole “Willow’s assault doesn’t count because it’s in the Metaverse” take. But, even then, who cares? It still perpetuates the culture and is therefore very bad, actually!
- “Diane, you’re not going to fuck me over, are you?” “No. Never.” Emotions.
- “Women don’t like to take credit. Men do. That’s why they get promoted.” Tea.
- …but also, why are you telling Liz what you learned at her firm, Diane???
- The tension between Audra McDonald and Christine Baranski in that elevator when Liz thinks she’s been betrayed 0.5 seconds after Diane’s return!
- I, too, quote shows I’ve seen a billion times before.
- “Sir, you have to learn one thing about me: I am never not serious.” It’s giving Holt…except the words are in direct contradiction to the actions. Love that!
- I know we’re not talking about some bullshit “Great Resignation” here.
- But Marissa freezing in court like that? Good, quality content.
- Carmen out here, outsmarting the Feds. Deserves.
- Does not deserve Marissa behaving like…that. I’m so mad.
- “I am not Diane. I am Liz.” Once again asking why are men.
- The way Braugher sings “Liiiiiizzzzz” when she’s ignoring his character…10/10, no notes.
- I wish I had even 1% of the ability to set boundaries that Carmen has. If Marissa was at all paying attention to her needs and supporting her, she might’ve come across as being a bitch. But…nope. Just totally “me, me, me” energy from Marissa and Carmen saying “enough.”
- But “have a good night, and fuck you” should still be everyone’s preferred method of ending a conversation from now on, just the same.
- Not Julius wanting to save a damsel in distress.
- …and Jay’s the only one actually, you know, working.
- “I used to believe in progress. That people learn from their mistakes. That things got better…and…and here we are.”
- Pretty sure Diane apologized at least three times, just for stating her opinion. On brand for women.
- “I did it because…I wanted closure. I wanted to know why he did it. And I wanted him to know what he did to me, how he hurt me.” So many survivors yearn for this chance.
- And what beautiful stuff from Ryann Redmond on that whole speech. Damned fine.
- All the little reactions to Ri’Chard from the cast that’s been around all these years…Brilliant. Every. Time.
- Carmen going off on Caruthers is everything I ever needed in life. I don’t even care who she’s defending here. It’s that good.
- The sarcastic giggling on “don’t you have a busy day.”
- “It will ever be thus, so here’s to us.” I’ll make l’chayims to that.
- Next time, it’ll WHATNOW???
Thoughts on The Good Fight 6×01? Share them with us!
New episodes of The Good Fight season 6 stream every Thursday on Paramount+.
As someone similarly sensitive to, and disappointed by, Jewish representation in entertainment, I find your calling out of insidious tropes extremely worthy and welcome. Interestingly I don’t feel this qualifies, if only because while sneaky conspiratorial omniscience certainly falls squarely within the toxic stereotypes, I find the kind of full-on gangster criminality this character exhibits — ‘the type of bad,’ as you noted — sort of refreshing with a Yeshiva-worthy name (and face) attached. Fictional swaggering thugs of every other ethnic stripe are generally embraced as harmlessly enjoyable villains without bearing the cross of representation, so why not ours? And the Kings have never been shy about populating their world with explicitly Jewish characters, or even giving them familiar idiosyncrasies. Your and many fans’ affection for Alan Cumming’s Eli Gold forgives not only the character’s unapologetic high-strung supercilious obnoxiousness but his non-Jewish casting– both of which risk crossing the line but wind up sticking the landing. Of course it’s only episode one, but I give the show the benefit of the doubt on this one.
Thank you so much for this. I was wondering, all along both times I watched this episode *and* when I was trying to write this review, if it was just a matter of headspace for me. I also had to go with my honest opinion, for better or worse, as much as possible. But I’m truly glad to be able to think through it and engage in dialogue to see where Ben-Baruch might not actually fit into the category of problematic.
It’s always complicated and difficult to figure out which bad/type of bad will get me, and I honestly can’t say as I know why this one, specifically, did it for me more than others. This, and a couple things (obviously can’t say) that come later, are why I was like…”I really don’t know what my opinion on this season is” in the advance review. It’s like…how to put this…I can single out (I hope) well-reasoned points for why I don’t like this or that character or conversation, but I also know I’ve liked plenty of things in spite of those issues before.
You also make a really good point about Eli, as well as about Cumming playing him. I *do* love the character so very, very much, yet have definitely called out non-Jewish casting of clearly Jewish characters in other settings.
With all that being said, I do trust the Kings overall, have never gotten the vibe that they intend to offend anyone (other than the same types of people I, personally, often hope to offend), and have seen them do amazing things over the years.
I all that makes sense.
The Diane “high” and irritating laugh is very old. I hope she gets a story line that has some substance. If not. I’m done