On Dec. 8, Crane Poole & Schmidt, the fictional law firm in ABC's Boston Legal, capped off five years of liberal propaganda with a few parting shots at religion and traditional marriage.
Religion came up as a small story line involving the inter-faith marriage between the Jewish Carl Sack (played by actor John Larroquette) and Christian Shirley Schmidt (played by Candice Bergen). A skirmish between a priest and a rabbi at their wedding rehearsal led Sack to equate religion to “a discipline, one that pretends to be about love, family, and charity” but “too often is a vehicle of hatred and war.”
Sack's been a stand-in for anti-religious bias before, as when he noted in an episode last season that “we cannot deny that religion is one place where we allow hate and oppression and discrimination to fester as it seeks safe haven in the Constitution.”
But the big story line involved the marriage proposal of Denny Crane (as played by William Shatner) to his friend and colleague, Alan Shore (played by James Spader). While originally played as a means to keep the government from taxing whatever assets Crane wanted to leave to Shore in the event of the older man's death, the plan forced a gay and lesbian group to file an injunction to keep the colleagues from marrying one another because they were both heterosexual.
Pinnard,the lawyer representing the gay and lesbian group, argued that the Crane-Shore union “is exactly what the religious right and conservative movements have been warning of. If we allow same-sex marriage, what next? Well, this is what's next. You will see people exploiting same-sex unions to circumvent--”
Your honor, in this day and age, the preservation of wealth is paramount. And I'm sorry, before I see Mr. Crane's money go to fund immoral wars or less moral government bailouts, I'd rather see it go to me. The plans I have for it are far more philanthropic. And by the way, I love him, okay? I love the man. He loves me. We're partners. To say that we cannot get married because we don't have sex is, uh, just as preposterous and bigoted as banning marriage based on who a person chooses to have sex with.
Judge Victoria Peyton ultimately ruled:
All right, look, I do find this union to be primarily based on money. I also agree with Mr. Pinnard-- this is the exact kind of exploitation the Christian right and others feared. But I also recognize, people marry for all sorts of reasons. It's not the government's place to ask why. Mr. Pinnard, there are many gays who marry heterosexuals. Also gays who marry gays of the opposite sex because they want to start a family, be co-parents-- nothing to do with romantic love. I hardly think you believe the government should step in and stop that. Same-sex unions are legal in Massachusetts. Your motion for an injunction is denied.
Legal's writers' final shots at religion and marriage perfectly concluded a series in which they repeatedly used the closing arguments of lawyers and the rulings of judges as mini-sermons to push liberal agendas with regard to homosexuality, abstinence-only education and abortion. Republicans and religion also suffered blows from the writers. And as large a role as issues such at those played, none of the obituaries for the series mentioned its espousal of an aggressively liberal viewpoint.
Entertainment Weekly's Mandi Bierly wrote Dec. 8 that viewers should be in “mourning” over end of Boston Legal's run because “this series went where other wouldn't.” Bill Keveney at USA Today fondly noted those places on Dec. 8.“Legal's bizarre world has featured the firm defending a cannibal; a client suing God for the death of her husband; and a woman alleging that a company promising to turn her mother's ashes into a diamond gave her a cubic zirconium instead,” he wrote.
Mary McNamara at the LA Times recalled on Dec. 9, “for five seasons, [Legal] has tried to address adult topics in full paragraphs in the only way possible given television's current devotion to immaturity and outrageousness – with characters so odd they defied gravity.”
The Washington Post's Lisa DeMoraes noted Dec. 8, “Using the show as his soapbox, Kelley has railed about virtually every hot-button issue: abortion, assisted suicide, the execution of the mentally impaired.”
Legal was little more than liberal propaganda thinly disguised as entertainment. Conservatives shouldn't be heartbroken to see it go.