Thursday, July 15, 2021

REVIEW: 'The Good Fight' - Diane and Kurt's Legal Interests Split as They Are Forced to Testify in 'And the Clerk Had a Firm...'

Paramount+'s The Good Fight - Episode 5.04 "And the Clerk Had a Firm..."

When a comedy streaming network executive, Del Cooper, asks Liz to conduct a sensitivity read on one of his comedians, the entire firm ends up fighting over how comedy and "cancel culture" collide. Meanwhile, the FBI goes after Kurt for his alleged involvement in the U.S. Capitol insurrection.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Paramount+'s The Good Fight.

"And the Clerk Had a Firm..." was written by Jacquelyn Reingold and directed by James Whitmore Jr.

A copy manager-turned-backroom judge, a conservative billionaire and an executive at a streaming service walk into an elevator. That sounds like the setup of a joke. It follows a familiar structure. It's also the action that concludes a significant story here. People are brought together because of their connection to this firm. They all must share an elevator. As such, their unique experiences can help the other build something more in this world. It's a novel idea while being incredibly simplistic as well. It also happens in an hour where the entire firm is debating the value of comedy in the era of cancel culture. The show itself has an incredible sense of humor. The characters are thrown when they are told they aren't funny - Liz especially. She can make a joke. It's not the service she typically provides though. She is a name partner at this firm. She is an excellent litigator. The firm is brought in to advise a streaming service about any potential problems in airing a stand-up comedian's special. People have different boundaries. Not everyone finds the same things to be funny. Comedy doesn't have to work for all audiences. It doesn't have to anymore either. People still have to be held accountable for what they say. At the end of the day though, jokes that are funny still work. That's true even in tackling sensitive topics. The fear of being "cancelled" as a result of telling a joke is enough to cut off all ambition and creativity whatsoever. Of course, this episode doesn't really engage in a full and rewarding conversation on the subject. It builds to the entire firm being in on the joke of having cards that allow inappropriate jokes to be made. Just because a person has the freedom to make a joke doesn't mean they want to. Nor does it mean they can even craft something comedic about it. It takes a lot to write effective comedy. People think it's easy because so many are funny in various instances of life. It's a different beast altogether to try to entertain through humor in a public space. Not every joke works. That has to be acknowledged as well. This story though mostly wishes to showcase Liz missing the point. She tries making her case to HR. She defends the actions of everyone at the firm. This is silly fun. No one took it seriously. No one was offended. It still needed to be carefully monitored. It's mostly just an outlet for people to complain about what is no longer acceptable in society. That doesn't take much effort to do though. As such, this isn't the most engaging plot. It's significant in the scope of the episode. It doesn't derail the comedic elements happening either. It's just noticeably limited in its ambitions. As such, that makes the overall episode feel as if it is juggling too much. It's meaningless that Judge Wackner is hearing a case about NFT fraud. That feels like a story this show could nail so well in depicting the nuances of the ever evolving innovation in the world regarding technology. That corner of the universe still has merit though. It depicts Wackner being willing to listen to the concerns of the biases within the system and try his best to create a space where those are no longer a factor. He is a principled man who believes he can't be corrupted. He is aspiring for something great that he hopes makes a difference. It's growing quickly as well. He has to carefully manage that. People have different expectations from this grand experiment. They may not all be idealistic. Diane sees the scale growing. However, she is distracted by the invasion of her personal life. Carmen showing loyalty to the firm is mostly an afterthought. She warns Diane about the impending search by the FBI. That decision doesn't especially feel motivated by anything that has happened in her character arc to date. It's mostly just necessary for her to remain in this environment to offer a new perspective while flourishing as well. Meanwhile, Diane has to confront the reality that her legal interests differ from Kurt's. They have long presented as a team despite their opposing politics. They have been able to make it work for years. The January 6 insurrection runs the risk of changing all of that. It also highlights how Diane felt compelled to alert the FBI about dangerous people Kurt interacted with. He could have done the same thing when she was part of a radical book group. He didn't. He views that as standing by his principles even in the face of something he disagrees with. That is compelling television. Unfortunately, it's a dynamic that the episode can only focus on for a little bit as it has to navigate so much else that throws the firm and its people into chaos.