n an episode of The Good Battle that first aired in April 2019, Jay Dipersia (Nyambi Nyambi) stares straight into the digital camera and walks in direction of it. Behind him, a automotive window is being smashed with a baseball bat; one other automotive is overturned. Police lights flash, sirens wail. Imaginative and prescient of Jay is intercut with footage of Richard Spencer being punched.
“Is all of it proper to hit a Nazi unprovoked?” he asks us. He considers: “There’s no higher approach to present some speech just isn’t equal. Some speech requires a extra visceral response […] It’s time to punch a couple of Nazis.”
I began my iso-rewatch of The Good Battle months in the past. Previously week it has taken on a brand new urgency.
A spin off from The Good Spouse, The Good Battle is darker, funnier and extra political than the present that preceded it. It’s sharply of the Trump period, presenting two often-contradictory sensibilities on the similar time: a cynical realism relating to American politics, and an optimism that, by taking part within the battle, issues can change.
The Good Battle understands the merciless racism of society, and locations us in a majority-black regulation agency. The primary episode, set on the time of Donald Trump’s inauguration, offers with a case of police brutality towards a black man; by the top of the episode he’s awarded $6m in damages.
There’s a darkness to the world of The Good Battle, as a result of there’s a darkness to the world it explores. As Trump’s presidency continues, the present has solely gotten darker.
And but within the face of this darkness can be nice mild. There may be pleasure within the battle. Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) is way braver right here than she ever was in The Good Spouse, and viscerally embodies this anger towards the world – first embracing martial arts, then axe throwing, then making an attempt to overthrow the federal government.
Inside the regulation procedural and the discussions of race and politics, The Good Battle can be humorous, whereas typically feeling impossibly daring in its storylines: the regulation agency comes into possession of the Trump “pee pee” tape; Melania Trump desires to make use of the agency to file for divorce. An internet site referred to as Assholes to Keep away from (a kind of Shitty Media Men record) results in confrontations between completely different generations of feminists. A gaggle of ladies, offended and able to break the regulation, create “PAnon” to counter QAnon.
As politics itself will get darker and extra absurd, The Good Battle turns into more and more absurdist, too – in plot, but additionally in kind.
The present ricochets between courtroom drama and melodrama; between satire and severe polemic. In later episodes, for nearly no cause, the present begins inserting interstitial comedic cartoon songs that talk on to the present however develop it out to elucidate the political touchpoints. At first these felt odd, however I got here to like the way in which they most totally reveal the present’s stability between farce and tragedy. Probably the most startling cartoon is one which didn’t air in any respect: a clip about Chinese language censorship was censored, changed with a title card studying “CBS Has Censored This Content”.
The cartoons are joined by the monologues, by characters transferring into music. And but inside the heightened tensions of the world – america each actual and imagined – these surrealist parts really feel proper.
Maybe greater than something – greater than the absurdism, the battle, the grit, the humour, the center – the rationale I hold coming again to The Good Battle is the intelligence of the performers. Cush Jumbo’s acidicly sarcastic Lucca Quinn; the quiet fury of Audra McDonald’s Liz Reddick (the present incorporates a actually stunning variety of Broadway stars).
I can’t consider one other TV present that’s extra totally of this time than The Good Battle. Up to date US politics are introduced into every episode, warped and laughed at, whereas additionally remaining severe and staid concerning the darkness.
Filming of season 4 was cut short as a consequence of coronavirus; a fifth season has been commissioned. As I’m watching, I take into consideration how The Good Battle will look again on the world we’re dwelling in now. It’s an extremely thrilling proposition.
• The Good Battle is streaming on Stan