Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 32: Fairly Legal

11 Aug


My friend and I, some years ago (two, maybe?) swore some sort of blood oath that we would watch every new USA program, or at least give each program a chance.  This may have been at least partially ironic at the time, and it probably still is now, but it has lasted, and we’re still watching them (well, except for In Plain Sight – ironically, we never seem to catch that one).  Also, as a fellow lawyer who doesn’t practice law, I feel like owe it to mediator and main character Kate Reed  to watch her show about same.

In Fairly Legal, Reed (portrayed by the able and sassy Sarah Shahi, best known for her L-word work), a top-flight lawyer at the firm founded by her father decides that her profession doesn’t fit with her ideals, and so instead decides to become  a mediator, to solve disputes between parties without having to resort to the frictions and unfairly legal practices of the courtroom.  Each episode features her mediating a what-looks-to-be-unmediatable case, getting parties that often hate each other on the same page through her sheer charisma and powers of persuasion.

In the great USA program family tree, Monk is the patriarch – he came  from broadcast television, started the family, but now he’s retired and down on his development in Arizona resting and playing golf.  The father, his son, Pysch, took a lot from his dad, but learned some new tricks of his own as well, and is still at hand.  Now, to get to Fairly Legal, we move a couple of generations down the line, and assume that there was either some incenstous behavior or some dystopian cloning leading to Fairly Legal because it’s like a real USA show, but with, well, something a little bit off.  The familiar guidelines are there – lightheartedness, a mix between drama and comedy, largely self-contained episodes with a slow-moving serial plot that makes progress over the course of a season.  However, it’s just not put together particularly well.  The plots are weak, which is a shame, because, by USA standards, anyway, the concept could have some legs (like Shahi, zing).  USA has clearly recognized this and has put new showrunners in charge.

The other interesting note about the show is the unusual premise of starting with Reed and her husband estranged, though not yet divorced.  Her ex, portrayed by Battlestar Galactica’s Michael Trucco (Anders in BSG, Justin in fairly legal), is a San Francisco ADA, who loves Kate but is frustrated by her always putting him off for work, and other things.  Justin is still the main love interest for Kate throughout the first season, and they get back together and break up again a couple of times.  It’s nothing mind-blowing but I can’t think of another show where the series began with the main character and his or her featured love interest estranged.

Why it’s this high:  I watch this show on television, and, hey, it’s about lawyers who decided being a lawyer sucks.

Why it isn’t higher:  Sarah Shahi is pretty great, but the show really isn’t.

Best episode of most recent season:  “Bridge” – they’re really all about the same, but I’ll give the season finale some points for ratcheting up the drama in USA season finale fashion as a custody battle between father and grandmother is in danger of turning into an international incident.

2 Responses to “Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 32: Fairly Legal”


  1. Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 30: Royal Pains « Television, the Drug of the Nation - August 18, 2011

    […] Still Make House Calls.”  Done.  We were hooked.  We had already decided, as previously mentioned, that we would watch just about every USA show, but now we had a favorite, and it hadn’t even […]

  2. Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 26: Psych « Television, the Drug of the Nation - September 1, 2011

    […] been comparing USA shows, but forget spiritual heir – an episode of Psych operates almost exactly, plotwise, as an episode […]

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