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Series / Fairly Legal

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Fairly Legal (formerly known as Facing Kate - which is still its title on French television) is a USA Network television series starring Sarah Shahi, Michael Trucco, Baron Vaughn, and Virginia Williams. The one-hour drama premiered on January 20, 2011 and ran for two seasons, making it a rare Short-Runner by USA standards. It centers on Kate Reed (Shahi), a lawyer who changes professions and becomes a mediator instead, allowing the writers to take a new look at tropes about the law and lawyers.

This show contains examples of:

  • Beleaguered Assistant: Leo. Not that Kate is incompetent, she just has a lot of trouble sticking to her schedules/appointments etc., leaving Leo to clean up the mess. Now it seems that Ben is trying to poach Leo, forcing him to deal with Ben's crap, in addition to Kate's.
  • Blatant Lies: Leo tells Ben that Lauren used to be a porn star.
    Leo (laughing): That last part's untrue. But you believed it, right? It's like a vibe.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Kate is an excellent mediator always willing to go the extra mile for a client, however she is constantly late if she even shows up at all, disrespectful to her boss who is also her step-mother and sometimes going the extra mile for a client means bending or breaking the law. In the season one finale, this is subverted; Lauren is finally fed up with Kate's shenanigans and fires her
  • Broken Pedestal: When Lauren reveals the firm is in serious financial trouble, Kate naturally accuses her of running it into the ground after her father died. However, Lauren fires back that the business trouble started under Kate's dad, he drove major clients away and Lauren was the one basically running the place in the last few years of his life. Kate doesn't believe it until she checks the records and realizes Lauren was right and is stunned to realize she's been putting her father on a bit too much of a pedestal.
  • Derailing Love Interests: Not as bad as some examples, but the revelation of Justin's one night stand seems to exist solely to provide a reason for Kate to need space and be available to flirt with Ben. Particularly obvious as they were in the process of finalizing their divorce and had made a relatively clean break at the end of the first season meaning that having them both choose to move on wouldn't have been an unreasonable part of the plot.
  • False Rape Accusation: Kate and the firm handle the case of a student accusing her teacher of sexual assault. It becomes a major issue before the girl confesses she made the whole thing up to get back at a bad grade. Thus, Lauren has to handle the school paying off a big settlement to avoid a lawsuit. However, Kate thinks something is up and interrupts a deposition to call a number off the teacher's phone. Everyone hears the student answering to ask "how much money did we get?" and realize the two were in on the whole thing to scam the college out of millions.
  • Family Versus Career: The reason given for Justin and Kate's marriage breaking up is that she prioritized her work before their relationship.
  • Fanservice: Not gratuitous, but one memorable scene has Kate walking out of Justin's kitchen in his shirt, and he tells her he intends to wear it to work. So she takes it off.
  • Going Commando: Kate's ex drops by late at night. She greets him while wearing an undershirt and pauses before she realizes she isn't wearing a bra.
  • Gold Digger: Averted by Kate's former stepmother Lauren. She really did love her husband, and her depth of emotions are reflected in the episode where she cannot even bear to enter his office. When the emotion becomes too much for her during the work day, she locks herself in the bathroom and submerges her face in ice water. She also tells Judge Nicastro she's terrified that if she appears to be moving on in any way, people will think she never really loved Teddy (Nicastro perceptively points out that by 'people' she means 'Kate').
  • Hello, Attorney!: Kate herself is fairly attractive, but a mediator, not an attorney. Her stepmother, Lauren, is an attorney. As is her ex-husband, played by Michael Trucco.
  • Idiot Ball: As an intelligent, experienced former attorney Kate really should know better than attempt some of the stunts she pulls. She seems to think that mediation can solve everything and seems surprised when quite often it will blow up in her face and make the situation worse. In one case she tries to mediate a dispute where her client has nothing to offer and the other person has all the power since the client is in the country illegally.
  • Jerkass: Ben Grogen. He piles work on Leonote , constantly butts in on other people's conversations as if they didn't exist, and would rather get the best deal than help people. He may seem to care to a degree, but his jerkass qualities outweigh any kindness he seems to give.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Justin (aka Anders) has a number of shirtless scenes, and one scene where he goes totally nude on his apartment's balcony as a karmic punishment to his neighbor for regularly doing the same.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Kate and Lauren. In addition to the scene where Kate takes off her shirt and is Topless from the Back, Kate routinely wears tight/short skirts and heels. And despite Lauren's iciness she almost always wears extremely flattering dresses and heels. Not to mention the almost absurdly tight dress she wears on her date with Helo.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • In "Bo Me Once", Kate meets Bo's producer Beth, in her office. Then Beth tells her her father, the real Bo, was abusive. Then Kate apologizes; she invited Beth's father to the office to hash it out, and offers to sneak her out the back wa—whoops, he's already there.
    • Kate is tasked with helping a woman who is an illegal immigrant and unintentionally committed identity theft (she thought the identity was fake rather than stolen). She screws up and the woman ends up getting arrested and set to be deported. Everything Kate does to help only makes the situation worse.
  • One of the Kids: Kate can be extremely childish, such as when locking her naked ex-husband out on his balcony.
  • Only in It for the Money: Usually what can be broken down for Ben's reason for helping anyone, which he admits. Which, while it is his job and nothing wrong with caring about it professionally, pushes him to intentionally screw the rules at times if it means he can get a bit more money.
  • Product Placement:
    • Leo plays World of Warcraft rather conspicuously in the pilot.
    • He also mentions in the pilot having to sell most of his Planeswalker cards for a hot tip.
    • More from Leo. In episode 7, he is seen playing Duels of the Planeswalkers. He also uses work time to sort through his Magic: The Gathering collection and put the cards into 3x3 binder pages.
    • The iPad features notably in one episode as a potential birthday present for Kate.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Judge Nicastro, with shades of Bait-and-Switch Tyrant. The twist is he's a bait and switch tyrant in each individual episode: he starts out tyrannical, but softens by the end. As opposed to being tyrannical in the beginning but softening in later episodes.
    • As little as Kate might like to admit it, Lauren is also this. Everything she does is quite reasonably calculated to keep the firm alive (which is on the ropes since the death of Teddy Reed, Lauren's husband and Kate's dad).
    • Lance, the bank foreclosure rep is more than happy to accept a viable alternative rather than force people into bankruptcy.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!:
    • This is how Kate lives her life. In order to right a wrong she will any rules that stand in her way and will not care for the personal, business or legal consequences.
    • Ben mixes this with Amoral Attorney. If he thinks that he can get a client a better deal, he will not let things like legal ethics stop him.
  • Shout-Out / Tear Jerker: Judge Nicastro is named after the late singer/actress Michelle Nicastro, wife of executive producer Steve Stark (Michelle passed away during production of The Event, Stark's previous series).
  • Stealth Pun: Most of Kate's phone contacts all have ID pics and ring tones based on The Wizard of Oz characters.
    • Her assistant, Leo, is the Cowardly Lion.note 
    • Justin's ID pic is the Tin Man, which upsets him when he finds out. "You think I don't have a heart?" The obvious twist being that, although the Tin Man doesn't have a heart, he didn't need one to be warm and caring, etc. Just like, as it is heavily implied, Justin doesn't.
    • Lauren's is the Wicked Witch of the West, obviously...
    • Her father was the Wizard. An entirely appropriate metaphor, it turns out, since Kate and Lauren discover that Teddy wasn't nearly so moral as he held himself out to be, founding the firm with embezzled money and seeking places on various boards of directors for the sake of power, in the same way the Wizard is a fake.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Ben. Though he has showed hints of heart of gold and genuine good qualities, he is above all else an Amoral Attorney who will do whatever he feels will increase his profit.
  • Wham Episode: The first season finale: David Smith is leaving town, and Lauren buys out his share of the firm and uses her new majority holding to fire Kate. Then, a pregnancy scare proves to be the last straw for Justin, and he leaves Kate apparently for good. And finally, Kate's boat runs out of gas...
  • Wham Line: Several.
    Lauren, to Kate: You're fired.
    Justin: I slept with another woman.
  • Working with the Ex: This is a primary source of drama and romantic tension on Fairly Legal. The main character is a mediator and her ex-husband works for the DA, so naturally they butt heads.


Video Example(s):


Sexy Shirt Switch - Fairly Legal

In the morning after, Kate walks into Justin's kitchen to talk to him while wearing only his shirt.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / SexyShirtSwitch

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