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Amazon's 'Goliath' Legal Drama Is the Right Mix

By William Vogeler, Esq. on September 12, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Why do people binge-watch lawyer shows on television, but will do anything to avoid lawyers in real life?

"Goliath," Amazon's legal drama, partially answers that question: television lawyers are interesting and not hourly expensive.

For attorneys who know better, however, there is another painful truth about the popular drama. It features an alcoholic attorney.

Alcoholic Attorney

"Goliath" enters its second season on Amazon starring Billy Bob Thorton as the recovering alcoholic, leading lawyer. He is caught in the legal battle of his career, litigating against his former firm to reclaim his former glory as a successful BigLaw partner.

But "Billy McBride" wrestles with another demon, which makes him a compelling character to watch. Hollywood Reporter says the show is "quite watchable" because Thorton's "gift at taking predictably quirky characters and making the beats of that quirkiness slightly off-kilter is close to unmatched."

Alcoholism among lawyers is not the stuff of fiction, however. It's a case of truth-stranger-than-fiction because the law business enables it.

According to studies, one-third of attorneys drink too much. Many of them do it at the office with approval.

After the Show

At the end of the day, "Goliath" is a tale like most successful legal dramas. It is first fiction, second fact.

Adam Banner, writing for the ABA Journal, says it is the right mix to suspend disbelief just long enough for a lawyer to escape the monotony of real law. In one scene last season, McBride tells off a judge and survives -- something every attorney would like to do at least once.

"There was just enough law to keep me grounded in the ridiculousness of the fiction ... and I loved it," Banner wrote.

And it's better than escaping reality in a bottle of booze.

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