A CBS-produced legal drama has taken the lead in weaving President Donald Trump into its stories, and it keeps raising the stakes.
In last month’s debut of “The Good Fight,” “The Good Wife” spinoff on CBS’ streaming service, lawyer and Hillary Clinton supporter Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranksi) watched and cringed as Trump was sworn into office.
In another episode, a member of the drama’s nearly all-black law firm tells his boss he voted for Trump and is scorned by his colleagues.
On Sunday, “The Good Fight” takes on a CBS competitor, NBC, over its delays in airing a drama with allusions to Trump. His new administration again comes in for jabs as well, setting a pattern for “The Good Fight.”
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The upcoming “Good Fight” hour is a thinly veiled shot at NBC’s postponement of a “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” episode about a candidate facing sexual assault allegations.
The unaired “Law & Order: SVU” episode was bumped from its originally scheduled air date in October and its rescheduled Nov. 16 telecast. NBC hasn’t announced a new air date.
During his 2016 campaign, Trump said that allegations of sexual abuse, including claims he kissed and groped several women, were false.
The “SVU” episode is titled “Unstoppable.”
After a number of prominent Hollywood figures campaigned vigorously against the Republican candidate, it became an open question of how much their opposition might be reflected in the TV shows and films they produce.
Most shows that debuted last fall have wrapped their production for the season that ends in spring, and movies have a long road to get into theaters. “The Good Fight,” which debuted in February, has taken ample advantage of its timing.
“We have created very politically aware characters, and it would simply be peculiar if they weren’t talking about what was going on politically right now,” said Michelle King, who created and produces the CBS All Access show with her husband, Robert.
Robert King said the drama hews closely to what they did on CBS’ “The Good Wife,” which also dwelled in the world of law and politics.
“That had a lot of references to the Clintons and Obama, and critical depictions, too,” he said. “The only difference is in degree.”
NBC declined to comment on “The Good Fight” episode, and CBS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The White House declined to comment, saying staff were focused on moving America forward in the real world.
In the “Good Fight” episode, titled “Stoppable: Requiem for an Airdate,” the law firm accepts the case of a TV writer being sued by his network over an episode about a fictional U.S. senator, Ted Williams, fighting sexual assault claims on election eve. When the network dragged its feet in airing it, the defiant writer posted the episode online.
In defending the writer, attorney Adrian Boseman (Delroy Lindo) presents the case as a cautionary tale of a media conglomerate bowing to government control.
The writer, facing the network’s $12 million civil suit filed by the network, invokes Trump in explaining his actions.
“There’s been a chilling effect at the studio and the network. They’re worried about the Donald holding grudges,” he testifies. “I found the idea that they would censor themselves for Trump terrifying and I wanted to point that out.”
The Kings said the story was inspired by what’s happened with the “SVU” episode but is aimed at the larger issue of government and media.
“There is a lot of attention paid to the FCC because they yield so much power, especially with the networks,” Robert King said. “When a president seems more willing to use the brass-knuckles aspects of the government, there could be concern about the way that could be wielded.”
He did have a message for NBC.
“We’d love to see that episode. Release it. Our job will be done,” he said, wryly.