Celestial Holmes is passionate about the power of prose, and…
Paramount+’s The Good Fight is making the rounds with its sixth and final season. In 2017, this smartly written and superbly acted show picked up the baton from its predecessor, The Good Wife, which ended in 2016. Original characters, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), David Lee (Zach Grenier), and Julius Cain (Michael Boatman), joined a well-established, liberal Black law firm, and fireworks ensued.
With Liz Reddick (Audra McDonald) and a host of other lawyers, the show maintained its legal and political astuteness while keeping us glued to the screen with drama and suspense. The series cleverly tackles real-life issues to provoking self-reflection while still being entertaining.
This is thanks to one of the show’s brilliant writers, Aurin Squire (This Is Us, Evil). BGN had a video chat with Squire to discuss the approach to the final season, how the show often foreshadows reality, and the impact of the new characters on the firm.
How did you approach wrapping everything up for this final season?
There’s that balance when you’re wrapping things up. You don’t want all the questions wrapped up too neatly, and you want a season that progresses forward. Since The Good Fight started, it’s been in the Trump era and a little afterward.
We were talking about what the next steps are in America. We read books about what sociologists and psychologists predict about the next phase. We cultivate the stories, come in, and figure out what makes us argue.
If the issue is something we all agree on, and it’s pretty black and white, then that isn’t a good plot or story thread. But, if it’s something with tension, there’s debate, or something we’re uncertain about, and we can find what’s funny, interesting, and scary, that becomes the driving thrust of the last season in this hangover era.
How do you discern what conversations and disagreements in the writer’s room will be made into a part of the show?
The best argument in wins. The most compelling, shocking argument that you wouldn’t expect wins. Anything that complicates the moral fibers of our main characters wins. Anything that makes them more complicated or complicit in a decaying corrupt judicial system is more interesting than having the outside guest appearance actor be the baddie.
Sometimes it appears to start that way, but at some point, it always turns back to the main character. It’s about turning back to the audience and what responsibilities we have. It’s too easy to point the finger at someone else. Dramatically, to create empathy, we have to implicate ourselves into what’s going on rather than detach and say, “it’s those crazy people over there, and I have nothing to do with it.” In the case of Diane, her husband was helping people during the insurrection.
That became a morally complicated thing, working at a Black liberal law firm when your husband is helping people who are part of the insurrection. We make them more complicit, so that there’s never any exterior condemnation but always an interior reflection, transgression, and transformation of what’s going on inside, making it as exciting as possible and as complicated as possible for our mains.
How do you determine what risks you’ll take when forecasting future events and how that sometimes seems to foreshadow what’s really happening in the world?
One of the seemingly small things that are always helpful is knowing what time of year the show will air. So, if the show airs around election season, we know certain activities tend to pop up. The episode I wrote this season was about football.
We started breaking that in January or February last year. Who could have predicted that the week that episode airs, the Miami Dolphins leading Black quarterback suffers a concussion and possibly CTE? The coach got blamed for all this other stuff that syncs up with the episode we broke more than six months ago.
That is the magical part of writing. You can tap into a reality in the future you’re not even aware of. If you’re open enough and have enough other collaborators talking, you can sense what will happen. In addition, we read books and articles. History repeats itself.
In season five, you introduced a new character named Carmen, who seemingly has a different personal constitution than others. Was there a particular reason for making her a part of the firm?
Yeah, there was a 23 or 24-year-old Mexican lawyer representing cartel members and doing a great job. Some people would say immorality allows someone to do that clean. But it is a certain morality of rooting or fighting for the person who isn’t supposed to win.
Also, fight for people no one else wants to fight for and then do it for money. We wanted to create a character like Carmen because, a lot of times, white characters get to play the cool, immoral figure. There is a certain clarity in being Machiavellian and saying, “For this amount of money, we get done.”
“We’re not friends. I don’t know, you,” and living a life that’s like a clean razor blade cuts through all the nonsense. It’s cool to think about that because I don’t lead that life. That clarity usually goes to not only white characters in TV but also men. So, we thought that would be different to show the new wave of feminists and the new wave of lawyers that are coming out right now.
Tell us about the new character, Ri’Chard Lane.
Ri’Chard came out of a conversation in an obsession about a particular type of Black entrepreneur, living his life at the apex. Once again, living so high up like a rockstar, they almost have a different sense of morality and where they place in the world. This conversation began with me talking about Tyler Perry.
It is amazing because he doesn’t follow the aesthetics, but he’s built something that exists on its own. Then we switched to talking about Little Richard, who created Rock and Roll, and how he exists on a different plane while being very, very religious. We wanted to create someone with an enormous appetite who also was very religious but not hypocritically religious.
I’m always fascinated by people like that, and I think we have some great archetypes in the Black community. Usually, it’s either someone who’s super Christian and hiding their lust or someone who’s just lustful. Ri’Chard is the combination of someone who’s both extremely religious but very lustful and sees no conflict.
The final episodes are available exclusively every Thursday on Paramount+.
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Celestial Holmes is passionate about the power of prose, and she uses it to uplift her people for various Afrocentric outlets. She is also a published author, writing under the pseudonym Mbinguni.