…And my partner is still up storyboarding.
Our walls look like a graphic novel.
Sleep. It’s been weeks. How do most women cope with a husband as a constant partner? (Writing is so — intimate.)
Robert and Michelle King have been married since 1987 and writing partners since 2001. Together, they have produced 13 episodes of ABC’s 2006 drama In Justice and 155 episodes of the recently ended, critically acclaimed drama The Good Wife. The couple has accomplished this without having a single fight, they say, and their partnership continues with CBS’s political farce BrainDead and the 2017 Good Wife spinoff for CBS All-Access, “The Good Fight!” starring Christine Baranski and Cussh Jumbo. The Kings share the secrets of their collaboration on set and off.
Would you recommend producing together to other couples in the business?
Michelle: I don’t know whether it would work for every couple, but the job seems completely overwhelming to do solo. I don’t know how anybody does that.
People miss The Good Wife, but love the spin-off, “The Good Fight” with Christine Baranski (left).
What intrigues you about the law as a subject?
Michelle: With The Good Wife, it was more that the character was fascinating. We had looked at various women in political marriages who had been the victims of scandal, and many were attorneys.
Robert: I’m attracted to the use of language as a weapon. Instead of guns, you’re using the force of argument and wit.
What current shows make you say, “I’d love to have done this!”
Michelle: Bob’s Burgers! The writing is so funny and the characters are terrific.
Robert: Amazon’s Catastrophe, about an American guy who gets a woman in England pregnant on a [vacation fling]. It’s very human and very, very funny.
What’s your advice to aspiring producers/writers?
Robert: Don’t get stuck on one script. Put a script that you’ve finished to the side and move on to the next. You never know what will stick with people, so you should always be writing new things.
Michelle: Go into TV, not movies. It’s an exciting time.
Robert: It’s Gold Rush time! It’s what I imagine the ’70s were for the movie business.
Another trade mag picks up on the excitement of the spinoff, as do audiences…
Robert and Michelle King (‘The Good Fight’ creators) on adapting to the cultural shift caused by Donald Trump.
The Good Fight goes mad in season 2
The premiere of season 2 of Good Fight takes place entirely during a funeral for former partner Carl Reddick (played last season by Louis Gossett Jr.). Barbara (Erica Tazel) gives a fiery eulogy: “Carl Reddick was born when Nazis were marching in the streets, and he died when Nazis were marching in the streets.”
Heavy stuff, but the fun of the premiere is how all the mourners use the somber day as an opportunity for some wheeler-dealing. Adrian (Delroy Lindo) is trying to secure a big client for the firm. (The client’s name rhymes with “Shmobama.”) New series regular Audra McDonald plays the dead man’s daughter, Liz, a United States Attorney who recently tweeted that the nation’s new boss is a white supremacist. She’s looking for a new gig, but everyone on The Good Fight is hustling somehow. Diane’s secretary Sarah wants to go Full Kalinda and become a full-fledged investigator for the firm. FBI Agent Starkey (Jane Lynch) swings by the funeral to taunt Maia (Rose Leslie) with new information about her renegade-banker father.
It’s a great episode of television, somehow thrillingly tense but still a boozy good time. (Diane learns about microdosing, and so did I.) The next couple episodes are more recognizable as A Show About Lawyers, cases introduced and resolved, familiar-faced guest judges. But the feeling of wrongness never goes away. Chicago’s attorneys keep dying. Moral and ethical ambiguities keep on piling up. When someone in the firm is threatened by a client, there’s a spiraling quandary: The cops need to investigate the clients, but that would violate attorney-client privilege.
The third episode rips from some very specific headlines, litigating a version of the Bachelor in Paradise scandal. A female contestant on a sex-idiot reality franchise called Chicago Penthouse claims she was assaulted and sues the show. What follows is a spiral through legal gray areas, signed documents, the ambiguity of reality TV’s reality, the most difficult questions of consent. All this in an episode that also features an apparent assassination attempt involving freaking ricin.
Cerebral, freaky—and fun, too! Not every element of The Good Fight fully fits together. Maia spends the first few episodes wrapping up the uninvolving criminal-dad subplot. The final twist in the assassination subplot beggars belief. The series takes a few dramatic shortcuts that reflect the Goodverse’s old-school procedural roots. (Liz is the ex-wife of Adrian, and then her current husband is a policeman called to the firm during the ricin scare.)
But in its second season, Good Fight keeps complicating its own internal structure, wandering off-course into unexpected tangents. Baranski is doing incredible work here. Without ever making Diane look weak, she radiates a cosmic exhaustion. “I just don’t like hustling every day to keep this firm afloat,” she says. But it’s more than the firm. She’s hustling to stay sane in a world gone mad. Good luck, Diane. We’re right there with you.
Creating together, rewarding.
In 2018 the Dashiell Hammett experience cannot hold up – everyone is too “woke.”
Finding new avenues of discovery is something special. When I feel to ‘run’ with the creative beast and he doesn’t, I write anyway. Creative hours are there for a reason – the energy of purpose keeps one hopped up on writing. The adrenaline of it – the flow – the stamina. Now I’m writing a novel.
It works for me, sending me in new directions, exploring unusual angles. I am free to go about the job of fearlessly creating, deeply exploring and richly incubating — in my mind’s sky while my partner runs through his. We look forward to the finished product, an orderly explosion, arriving at a cohesive story that neither of us could have achieved without the imagination of the other.
Thank you Mister, for sharpening my edges, bringing my blood to a boil, and causing me to discover pure gold!
The process. Gotta love it!