I can understand why most people didn't connect, which resulted in the series being canceled. The idea of a law series that centers on "average" defendants (poor people who are stuck in the system by a combination of circumstances and poor choices, and sometimes only the first) is not something we are accustomed. We want to see either the bad guys being chased by the good guys or saintly lawyers and defendants who are unquestionably innocent (like in "To Kill a Mockingbird"). But crime and punishment in real life are far more complex, and that is why the day-to-day of public defenders is a premise that makes such good drama.
(Not that the series is ultra-realistic in every sense; most of the relationships among the characters are less than believable, very made for TV, but they had to be there if the series had any chance of success.)
The bottom line is that there is something remarkably true in the stories of Raising the Bar, something that no other cop or law show ever came close to achieving. The situations of the defendants came straight from David Feige's experience as a PD in the Bronx, and not from stock characters and plots, which puts the human element far higher.
It is impossible not to compare it to Law & Order, the only other series to have 50% of its cast made of public prosecutors. Bar doesn't have the excitement of its competitor, but it is far, far superior in terms of human content. Whenever any of the L&Os versions tries to give us some moral complexity and tackle social issues, it feels spoon-fed and artificial, like a plug for a political agenda. After all, it is basically a show about catching the bad guys and finding the truth, not one about ambiguity - actually, the LESS moral dilemmas you see in L&O, the better the episode.
The same does not happen with Raising the Bar. The focus is on the work of Public Defenders - one of the most unjustly maligned professions in the world - and their clients. The moral complexity springs from the premise, it is not inserted in the story. It is there because the situations regular people face when charged with a crime are complex, and "guilty" x "not guilty" are two terms not always easy to apply. After watching and thinking about it, you imagine yourself as a policeman, prosecutor or judge, and you wonder if you can arrest/prosecute/sentence a person for any crime without any doubts whatsoever regarding what is done. Society suffers less crime if more people who break the law are imprisoned, that's true. But does it have less victims? Hard to say.
There are other shows out there that have more thrill, but none in the legal genre that are that compelling. I hope more people, like another commenter and myself, find this great series on Netflix.
Great job, Feige & company.
6 out of 6 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.