October 24, 2021

‘The Good Battle’ Is Flawless This Season. How Do I Persuade You Idiots to Watch?

5 min read

This is a preview of our popular culture publication The Day by day Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior leisure reporter Kevin Fallon. To obtain the total publication in your inbox every week, sign up for it here.

The Good Battle Is on an Unimaginable Run Proper Now

It was heartening all through the pandemic to listen to from family and friends how many individuals had been bingeing The Good Wife. And I understood why anybody who sampled it grew to become obsessed. The politician’s spouse dealing with his scandal was a juicy hook. Kalinda was TV’s greatest character, till she was the worst. Alicia and Will’s sexual chemistry had me virtually residing in a chilly bathe.

I can’t keep in mind the final time I used to be as shocked by an episode of television as I used to be by season 5’s “Dramatics, Your Honor,” an hour of tv trauma my therapist and I are nonetheless working by means of. Then there was the present’s superhero in a wise assertion blazer, the regal Diane Lockhart, played by Christine Baranski—and the series-ending slap I felt alone rattling face.

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At any time when given the chance to please in somebody’s excited conversations about The Good Spouse, a collection that in all probability ranks in my prime 10 favorites, I finish with the logical query: So did you begin watching The Good Battle subsequent?

Inevitably and bafflingly, the reply is nearly all the time no. Make it make sense. A sequel collection to the present you simply binged and cherished exists, and critics have been screaming reward about it for the final 5 years at such a quantity that there’s an epidemic of TV journalists whose vocal cords have ejected from their throats.

Why on the planet isn’t all people watching?

I point out this now as a result of The Good Battle, a collection that ought to have gained Greatest Drama on the Emmys twice by now, is having what could also be its greatest season ever. The seventh episode of the fifth season premiered this week on Paramount+, persevering with what counts among the many most thrilling stretch of episodes in a TV collection this 12 months.

No collection engages with the true world with such ballsiness. We’re not speaking these cheesy, ripped-from-the-headlines storylines on Regulation & Order: SVU that everybody insists are campy and enjoyable when actually they’re largely exploitative, tacky, and borderline unwatchable. Previous seasons of The Good Battle have tackled all the things from Trump’s shock 2016 victory to the pee tape, and highbrow-lowbrow information headlines spanning the Bachelor in Paradise alleged sexual assault, the infamous Shitty Males record, the insufferability of Milo Yiannapoulos, and the placement of Jeffrey Epstein’s, um… penis.

It’s not simply that the collection finds stunning, clever angles into discourses which will already appear saturated. It’s that in some way, and in a method that I’ve by no means seen on one other TV present, it manages to stage every episode with one thing of an emotional mirror. It manages to mirror the spectrum of emotions you might have as somebody who has lived by means of these information tales however may not have had the area to course of them. It sounds hokey, nevertheless it’s so vivid and neatly finished.

That’s been very true of this season. It launched with an episode that sprinted by means of the trauma of the 12 months because the collection final aired: the pandemic, Black Lives Matter, the demise of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Trump’s election threats.

After enduring an upsetting variety of different collection that every one faltered with their ambitions to cowl the identical matters, the thought of one other TV drama doing a surface-level, patronizing string of episodes about COVID-19 was about as enticing as going right into a bar full of unmasked patrons whereas a scary, vaccine-resistant variant of the virus saunters by means of the nation. (Oh wait…)

In fact The Good Battle tackled the pandemic in a method that was each highly effective and ingenious, sure. Nevertheless it additionally employed that emotional mirror to putting impact.

You recognize that feeling of the previous few years, the place the worry and dread mutate into the anxiety-inducing suspicion that both everybody else has misplaced their minds or you might have? It’s like there was as soon as some form of security line that tethered you to actuality, however somebody lower it if you weren’t trying and now you’re spinning off into area, watching sanity, grace, and dignity disappear into the space as you ping-pong towards different people who find themselves going by means of the identical unsettling expertise.

In some way, the collection has captured that. It’s additionally extraordinarily enjoyable.

Latest episodes characteristic a storyline by which Mandy Patinkin runs a kangaroo court docket known as Courtroom 9 ¾ out of the again of a replica retailer that turns into fashionable as a result of he rejects the legal guidelines and statutes that shield the highly effective and sometimes make actual justice not possible. In a world the place a state governor will show a slideshow of himself touching dozens of males’s faces as a protection towards sexual harassment, Courtroom 9 ¾ leans into the insanity however with a message: Each plaintiff and defendant should look one another within the eye and say “I respect and love you” after a ruling. Respect? Love? On this local weather?

There was an episode that portrayed what life was like inside a hospital in spring 2020 for a COVID-19 affected person that burrowed into me in a method I may not ever shake. A number of episodes litigating individuals’s involvement—or not—within the Jan. 6 rebel had been fascinating. The present made headlines final week when a imaginative and prescient of RBG, played by all-time legend Elaine May, arrived to supply counsel to Diane. It wasn’t a gimmick or crass, as it would sound. It was wonderful and transferring.

This week’s new episode opened with a slideshow of photographs of the likes of Kevin Spacey, Louis C.Ok., Scott Rudin, and R. Kelly set to “Ave Maria,” virtually just like the world’s most repugnant “in memoriam” reel honoring dangerous jackasses. Then the characters began discussing the small print of Armie Hammer’s alleged cannibalism in relation to cancel tradition and I virtually screamed. It’s wild {that a} present exists that may dare contact that.

No present has the swagger of The Good Battle, whether or not it’s lately daring to show the viewers towards Diane, the protagonist, or typically ready 20 minutes into the episode to launch the opening credit (really a baller transfer). Now there’s only one factor it must do to actually impress: Get you to freaking watch it.

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