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Transformation & Fairly Legal

Transformation & Fairly Legal

Two of my favorite shows on USA Network, namely Covert Affairs and Royal Pains, informed me via Facebook this week that if I was any kind of fan of their shows, I would watch the series premiere of USA Network’s newest drama, Fairly Legal, so I guess you could say I watched because other shows I like told me to do so—to prove my loyalty. In my defense, I wouldn’t do just anything for such reasons. For instance, there would be no similarly motivated Brooklyn Bridge jumping or laced Kool-Aid drinking in the name of anything for me. Mostly I thought if two shows I already know I enjoy were so heavily promoting this new program, the least I could do would be to give it a chance. Maybe I would like it. Maybe they would just shut up about it. Either way, I had nothing to lose and nothing better to do at the time.

Fairly Legal introduces us to Kate Reed (Sarah Shahi), a former lawyer-turned-mediator with a Wizard of Oz obsession and something to prove, whose father has recently passed away. Kate comes from a family of lawyers, but she has decided that the courtroom’s winner-versus-loser model is flawed at best. Mediation frees Kate to seek solutions that benefit all involved—outcomes with no losers. As a mediator, Kate brings people together. Her efforts preserve existing relationships between her clients and those closest to them and force her clients to consider the relationships between themselves and their fellow human beings.

Ironically, Kate’s personal life is a minefield of dysfunctional relationships, not the least of which is a stepmother Kate is angry with for making her father happy, or an ex-husband who is the assistant district attorney and who finds his way into Kate’s bed with a frequency that belies all that the "ex" portion of his label communicates.

During the pilot episode, Kate faces mediation in a case with no easy win-win solution between a wealthy Caucasian male client of her father’s firm and two young African-American men. The Caucasian man was driving under the influence of alcohol when he bumped the vehicle of the two young African-Americans. Upon having the vehicle bumped, the man in the passenger seat, who had a previous criminal record, unexpectedly pulled a gun. In the initial aftermath, Kate tried to persuade the firm’s wealthy client not to press charges against the young man who was driving the vehicle he hit while driving drunk, since the young driver was found to be an upstanding citizen with a scholarship to Yale, no criminal record and no participation in the criminal incident under discussion. However, the wealthy client only cared about his DUI not going public.

At an apparent impasse, Kate shifted her focus to another case which lasted late into the night (perhaps the only context in which an exchange between Kate and her assistant regarding an interactive computer game would actually make sense). In explaining strategy for playing the computer game Kate’s assistant, Leo (Baron Vaughn) said, “[If you] focus on the wrong thing, you get killed.” His words cause Kate to consider the importance of a change in her perspective as she seeks a resolution between her father’s wealthy Caucasian client and the young African-Americans.

Leo’s statement caused me to think about many situations in life when misplaced focus causes us harm. We may not die, but not all harm is unto death, after all, at least not physical death. But sometimes, we get so wrapped up in our own lives or so hung up on a single biblical concept that we miss the greater good— the grander purpose—the better way to die. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

Rachel Decker writes a bi-weekly column about television for RELEVANT. Check out her blog at

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