The Deep End – That’s What She Said

Like many people with even a tangential relationship to the legal industry, I watched the series premier of The Deep End on ABC last night.  And, I have to agree with the unanimously negative reviews from Above the Law, USA Today, The Washington Post and NPR.

No one expects a comedic drama about lawyers to be entirely realistic.  But The Deep End was so far off its namesake that the fantasy elements distracted from…well, I guess there wasn’t much to distract from, but if there was, it would have.

The first thing anyone will notice is that the lawyers are far more attractive than real life attorneys.  But, that’s to be expected on TV.  At least one of the girls was TV ugly (meaning real world cute, or law firm HOT), but the show would have more potential to be interesting if they made her down right plain.

Next, and not many people who haven’t worked in a law firm will have caught this, but there seem to be no midlevel or senior associates at the firm.  It’s just partners and first years.  Perhaps this will be dealt with later, as some firms do experience a lot of defection from associates as they get some experience and find opportunities to jump into finance, but I suspect it’s just an oversight by the writers.

Also, secretaries are generally middle aged, highly-unattractive women.  And, the paralegals don’t have law degrees.  Firms hire law grads as associates, and then fire them after they fail the bar (usually letting them try twice).  They don’t keep them on as paralegals.

But, the most glaringly bad problem in the show is that we’re expected to believe associates in their first month of work are leading cases, bringing in clients, and going to court.  Many mid-level or senior associates never get to do those things.  Sure, no one wants to watch an entire season of junior associates doing doc review, but at least make the kids really suffer before they get into good stuff. managed to make some creative, interesting short videos that played up just how boring, tedious and demeaning law firm life is.  You’d think a staff of professional TV writers could do as well.

McBealThis show needed to take a lesson from House or The Office.  Instead of making all the associates into heroes-in-training, give them all their own agendas, their own vices, and make them multi-dimensional, interesting people.  Have a social outcast, have a catty bitch, have an awkward guy, whatever it takes to make the show have some appeal.  I know it’s still too early to completely condemn the show, but at this point, I’d rather just watch re-runs of Ally McBeal.

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