cases every week. Their world’s gone mad from post-truth hysteria. Was it ever sane? The CBS All Access drama’s fourth season exposed a secret history of American legality, from Japanese internment through Jeffrey Epstein, revealing how the rich, white, and powerful ignore the system while using it to imprison everyone else. Timely subject matter for days of protest, and suggests the fading popularity of the lawyer show reflects a fading belief in law itself. has its own affinity for the genre’s past, evident ever since Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) studied for fashion cues. As criminal mouthpiece Saul Goodman, he choreographs defenses as if he’s scripting a ludicrous legal melodrama—and it always, always works. AMC’s prequel isn’t openly political, though there’s emerging resonance in its con artist overwhelming the letter of law with sheer lying spirit. Even straight arrow Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is slipping in Jimmy’s shady direction. In bleak landscape—call it America—that’s probably good for her career. is too conventional by comparison, but it also finds the modern TV attorney perched on the edge of moral chaos. When Perry starts arguing in front of a jury, his pal Pete (Shea Whigham) tells him, “You almost look like a lawyer up there.” He means it as a compliment. It sounds like a death sentence. The Good Fight Better Call Saul Matlock Breaking Bad REBIRTH LEGAL THRILLER ↑ Shea Whigham and Matthew Rhys investigate a horrific crime… OF THE ↓ …that isn’t Stephen Root’s mustache Saul’s RATINGS KILLED TV’S LAWYERS, BUT REVIVES THE FAMOUS DEFENDER JUST IN TIME FOR THE GENRE’S NEW DARK AGE Perry Mason PERRY MASON Darren Franich By finally We’re past the glory days when David E. Kelley vacuumed up Emmys with and The only failed has been wasn’t the new Savvy parodies and died young. Recent twists try too hard. The lawyer’s in prison! The lawyer’s a judge! The old repetitions were so hopeful— noble advocates, big speeches, a whole trial in one hour. Now the default TV mode requires serialization. And who’s hopeful lately? Two of the year’s best series confront the courtroom thriller’s obsolescence head-on. heroes are old-fashioned, stylish crusaders tackling new RAYMOND BURR WON HUNDREDS OF cases defending the innocent on That legal drama was legal drama, and Burr was everything small-screen heroism could be, broad cliffside shoulders proclaiming rigid virtue. On HBO’s grim reboot, Matthew Rhys plays the title character as a lowrent shamus in ’30s Los Angeles, sweating illegal booze through a five-o’clock-somewhere shadow. His wife took the kid. The family farm’s in tax trouble. He doesn’t practice law until episode 6. That reflects the dull drama’s Origin Story instincts, and sums up the genre’s sad state. TV’s most victorious attorney is now a loser who barely wants to be an attorney. Perry Mason. the The Practice Ally Chicago Justice. Pearson Suits. Grinder Trial & Error McBeal. The For Life: All Rise: The Good Fight’s JULY 2020 58 EW ● COM
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