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‘Fight’ takes on big issues with smart storytelling

March 19, 2017 GMT

Social media is all fun and games until the haters­ crawl out and threaten to rape you.

“The Good Fight,” the CBS All Access original drama, takes on online trolling and perhaps the greatest troll of them all in a character unabashedly based on “alt-right” agitator Milo Yiannopoulos, who was banned from Twitter last year.

It’s a ripped-from-the-headlines, hot-button issue story, one that “The Good Wife” excelled at. “The Good Fight” has the same fire — and as a streaming show, it doesn’t need to censor its language.

And the f-bombs fly in the hour “Social Media and Its Discontents” — along with some vexing questions about how to police social media abuses.

Tech CEO Neil Gross (John Benjamin Hickey, reprising his “Good Wife” role) hires the firm of Reddick, Boseman & Kolstad to help with a problem crippling his sites. Morons are filling the boards with racist and sexist messages.

With advertisers deserting him, Gross challenges the firm to come up with terms of service — a code of conduct for visitors — oh, by the end of the business day.

No problem for these attorneys. They dive right in. But how do you determine if someone is being threatening or just mouthing off? Should a person be banned who uses the word “slut”? What if the person is talking about slut-shaming? Context becomes everything, and then how do you code filters for that?

In this thicket, Lucca (Cush Jumbo) comes to the rescue.

Among the first banned: nasty commentator Felix Staples (John Cameron Mitchell, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”), a flamboyant conservative gay who counts among his heroes Christopher Hitchens and Lil’ Kim and posts things like, “We need a surgical Holocaust. Just kill the irritating Jews.”

He brings in a male prostitute and attempts to have a sex act performed on him during his meeting with the attorneys.

“You’re a clown,” Diane (Christine Baranski) says, decidedly bored.

The resolution to this story, particularly given the nature of the real-life dispute that inspired it, seems simplistic. But credit “The Good Fight” for taking on something big and trying to bring order to it.

There’s a lot more going on in this episode — and the B-stories are more fascinating than the issue of the week.

Marissa (Sarah Steele) proves once again to be the firm’s ace in the hole. Colin (Justin Bartha) and Lucca try to set their own terms of sexiness — that is, the boundaries of their relationship. This literally takes them right off the road.

The issue of white privilege again bubbles as Diane seems to enjoy perks and attention (not all good) that the other attorneys do not at this predominantly African-­American firm.

In the best story, the one running throughout the season, Maia (Rose Leslie) finds herself again roped into the war between her parents and her uncle and is forced to face the idea that her own father might serve her to the feds to save his own sorry butt. This is one twisty story that has me hooked.

CBS All Access last week renewed “The Good Fight” for another season. That’s good news. We need a show this smart more than ever.