This week I don’t want to talk about Trump or Terrorism. You can read about them anywhere. This week I want to point cultural conservatives to a small patch of culture where we have occasionally been allowed to grow, over on the CBS farm.
In this space recently, I discussed the mid-season finale of Scandal, which was all the rage for discussion in the conservative media at the time. My point there was that no one should have been surprised that the show would give its main character an abortion, because that’s the kind of show it has been from the beginning, and that if we as cultural conservatives are going to discuss cultural developments, we should actually know what they are.
This week, I want to give credit where it’s due. There is a television show on CBS that has always been fair to the conservative viewpoint, despite being produced by, acted in, and populated with liberals, both real and fictional. And a few weeks ago, that show demonstrated the right way to handle a Planned Parenthood story “ripped from the headlines.”
This week, I tip my hat to The Good Wife.
Despite the fact that almost all the main characters are liberal Democrats—two of whom have run for Cook County, Illinois States’ Attorney—the show has always been careful to give the other side a voice. In recent years, the ultra-liberal Diane Lockhart has provided the opportunity to hear that voice. Diane is pro-choice to the core, dedicated to the proposition that every woman is created better than any fetus. She is deeply committed to gun control—despite the fact that she has discovered she rather likes shooting guns. She mouths all the right affirmative action platitudes.
A few years ago, Diane fell in love with a right-wing, Sarah-Palin-loving, ballistics expert. Without compromising her own values, she married him. Last year, she accompanied him on a hunt, where she bagged not just a deer, but a new client—a conservative billionaire who hired her to be his devil’s advocate, helping him decide which conservative lawsuits to back, by presenting her best case.
Which brings us to the episode titled “Restraint” (as in “prior restraint”).
Diane is tapped to help her billionaire decide whether to take the case of a woman who wants to sue an abortion clinic (which is a clear roman a clef for Planned Parenthood). The woman had an abortion, but after seeing undercover videos is convinced that the clinic tricked her into donating her baby, on which they profited. Diane handily dispatches the case, and they determine not to take it. However, the billionaire decides to back the case of the undercover videographer, whose work the clinic is trying to keep from seeing the light of day. Despite her revulsion for the pro-life movement and the videos themselves, Diane decides to argue the case.
Because for her, it is a case about the First Amendment.
Not only does the show give the undercover videographer his due as a Constitutional warrior, it does not shy away from depicting the hypocrisy of the pro-choice movement. The Judge, who is pro-choice, attempts in chambers to pressure Diane into dropping the case. Then, when his illegal ex parte conversation is exposed, he refuses to recuse himself. Diane’s pro-choice friends desert her, as well, and the firm loses clients like the thinly disguised versions of the ACLU and NOW. And we see Diane’s bewilderment as her former friends, the staunch defenders of the Constitution, are exposed as disdainful of the First Amendment protections she is ardently defending.
I won’t go into spoiler details, but I will recommend that cultural conservatives take some time to seek out some episodes of The Good Wife. The episode in which Diane goes hunting, shoots and eats her first deer, and acquires her conservative billionaire client has an especially illuminating scene in which the two sit in the blind, waiting for the deer, and arguing about abortion. Diane defends the woman’s right, and the billionaire speaks movingly of the meaning inherent in a five-month old unborn child. Pro-lifers will be pleasantly surprised by the way their position is presented and defended. No minds are changed by the scene, but Diane is clearly moved by the conversation, and the pro-life advocate is portrayed not as a zealous maniac, but as a thoughtful, compassionate and intelligent human being.
There is also a very good episode in which Diane takes on her devil’s advocate role to help the client decide whether to take on the case of a Christian baker who turned away a gay couple who wanted her to make their cake. It, too, was “ripped from the headlines,” but not in a sensational way. The lawyers argue the law, despite the fact that there is some clear emotional blackmail going on (Diane gets the billionaire’s gay nephew to play the turned-away client) – again, no positions change, but both sides are fairly presented.
For a mainstream broadcast network show packed to the gills with liberals, that’s probably as good as it gets for cultural conservatives. And until we start making some conservative culture of our own (more like Last Man Standing, for example), we should at least have the courtesy to recognize something good when it’s going on.
Good job, Good Wife.
Image: Fair use: illustration purposes; no free equivalent available; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Good_Wife_-_The_4th_Season.jpg