Saturday, May 21, 2022

Lawyers, lawyers everywhere ...

 “The Lincoln Lawyer” Meets “Goliath”

Streaming culture is beginning to congeal, as the drop in Netflix customers reflects.  Amazon and Netflix have huge amounts of mediocre entertainment in genres like crime, thriller, comedy, romances, sci-fi/fantasy and ‘dramas.’ This lack of quality is obvious to anyone with a subscription…or at least I hope it is.  The pandemic is also lessening, which is reducing time in front of the screen.  However another aspect is that successful streaming series are being duplicated in different forms – a common movie or TV method.   This may bore viewers, although perhaps I’m being too optimistic here. 

Car culture continues in court.

Take these two better lawyer series:  Goliath’s 4 streaming seasons were first on deck - now the Lincoln Lawyer borrows almost every aspect of Goliath in its first season.   Or at least that is the way it seems… 

To whit:

Both are set in Los Angeles and are about ‘edgy’ dissident lawyers – one who does torts against large corrupt corporations and the other a defense attorney who represents semi-innocent criminals or marginal violators. 

Both lawyers are intuitive and gutsy ‘geniuses’ in their field. 

Both attorneys have either an alcohol or a drug problem.

Both are divorced and have ex-wives they still ‘work’ with in odd ways.  They both have daughters who they are trying to reconcile with. (Problematic teenage daughters is a trope that extends into many crime shows…)

They both drive vintage cars – Goliath a convertible Mustang, the LL lawyer a vintage convertible Lincoln.  (He also has a Navigator© and a Town Car©.)

Both are closely assisted by attractive blondes – a sharp, real estate attorney and a diminutive go-getter who is thinking of going back to law school.  Both have a private investigator.  One is an old, experienced ex-lawyer living in a trailer like Rockford and the other is an ex-bike gang member who susses out the situation on his Harley.  Each lawyer has a conflicted ally in the FBI or police, naturally.  Both lawyers have helpful prostitutes they can call on, naturally.

They both get beat up occasionally and are threatened with death, naturally. Both frequently do their ‘officing’ out of the office – in a bar, in a car. 

Both show judges to be by turns upright citizens or crooked.  The same goes for cops.  The law is ultimately shown as fair, intricate and wonderful in its own way.  This is certainly not the experience of most.  In the end, sociopathic corporate criminals (the Goliaths), and sociopathic billionaires, the criminals - the real ‘bad guys’ - get theirs.    

The only apparent difference is that Billy Bob Thornton – our David – is a light-skinned gringo living in a shabby California-style motel room in Santa Monica while Manuel Garcia-Rulfo – the Lincoln Lawyer - is a light-skinned Latino living in the Hollywood Hills in a modern glass-view mansion.  Garcia-Rulfo is driven around in his Lincolns by a dark-skinned ex-junkie, while Billy Bob does his own Mustang driving.  The Lincoln lawyer lectures her about how he practices law, as befitting a 'legal drama' for the uninformed.  Billy Bob lectures no one. 

And … drum roll… both series were ‘created’ and written by David E. Kelly – who has done many legal TV shows starting with L.A. Law in 1986, and streaming series like Big Little Lies.

Lawyers - yay!

However …

The Lincoln Lawyer was a book first published in 2008 and a film in 2011 starring the doubtful Mathew McConaughey.  Goliath premiered in 2015 as a series.  So the first Lincoln Lawyer book and film might be the template for Goliath.  Only Kelly knows...  The Lincoln Lawyer premiered as a streaming series this year in 2022.  Both borrow from The Big Lebowski, Inherent Vice, Chinatown, LA noir and everything that came before.  The mystique of Los Angeles penetrates both series, much like movies set in New York used to do about that city, until New York exhausted itself and everyone else.  Yes, places are characters and LA is the star of both these shows. 

But now lawyers are the heroes, not PIs.  It seems the professional strata within the middle-class is having its cinematic day over the grubby, street-level PIs, as would be expected in a society enamored with its upper ranks.  The U.S. is also one of the most litigious societies on the globe due to the enormous amounts of money involved, as well as the inability to resolve contradictions any other way.  So the lawyers and their courts play the role of constant referee and judge. Lawyers are over-represented in Congress and politics, so they 'legislate' there too. In the Lincoln Lawyer the duty is to represent and 'win' for the guilty, which is the ostensible heart of the system.  Though as we know the overwhelming majority of proletarian criminal cases are pled-out and do not involve high-priced attorneys.

Prior blog reviews on this topic, use blog search box, upper left, to investigate our 15 year archive, using these terms:  “Goliath,” “Hollywood,” “Hail Cesar,” “A Time to Kill,” “Gray Mountain” and “The Appeal” (all 3 by Grisham); “The Trial Before the Trial” “The Cult of the Constitution,” “Eric Holder,” “Bad Cops, Bad Cops,” “Prison Strike,” “Los Angeles Stories” (Cooder); “The Latino Question,” “Camino Real,” “Three Days in the Jury Pool,” “In Praise of Barbarians” (Davis) "Professional Degrees in Democratic Party Politics," "With Liberty and Justice For Some" (Greenwald); "The Divide" (Taibbi) or the word ‘streaming. 

The Cultural Marxist

May 21, 2022

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