This post is rather an introduction to the series than a critique – so feel free to read all of it as it has been written with an attempt to avoid spoilers. But I’m warning you, it is quite the novel I have written here so
I recommend coffee and lots of it!
As some of you might already know, I watched the entire series of The Good Wife in a really short period of time and I’m not even sorry. Sure, everything in terms of the plot is now a bit chaotic in my head but I figured that since I spent around 60 hours watching it, I should at least find the time and the means to put down some coherent thoughts. Besides, I really like The Good Wife and therefore I want to share my enthusiasm!
First off, I started watching The Good Wife because I needed something entertaining and my friend had been messaging me about this show in particular for quite some time. I believe she used the following phrases: “It’s so good! Oh my god, it’s so good!” – I mean, one can’t deny that those kinds of words spark a bit of interest, so obviously I had to watch it… until I had miraculously caught up with her and finished the show before she did. My god, I’m a crazy person when it comes to TV-show marathons but hey, when it’s done, it’s done.
Considering the fact that I watched all four seasons, it’s almost impossible to summarize it without giving away too much and while presenting a decent plot but I’ll give it a try. The series starts with a scandal, Peter Florrcik (Chris Noth), the former states attorney, has ended up in jail after having sex with a hooker and being accused of corruption. His wife, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) is the protagonist of the series and she, despite her husband’s wrong doings, has stayed loyal to him throughout this mess. So in order to support herself and their two kids, Alicia goes back to work, after 15 years of being a house mom, to Stern, Lockhart & Gardner as a litigator. During the series a lot of things change, obviously, and whilst Alicia is taking on different cases in each episode, there are also different types of relationships going on inside and outside the firm. In addition, a lot of the guest roles are consistent throughout the series, which makes things more fun and interesting. Plus, as if law isn’t enough, there will be a lot of politics involved in the later seasons.
One would say the plot’s appeal is in its ability to have interesting cases in each episode while having multiple season long story lines going through. We have personal drama on all levels, not just revolving Alicia but with other characters, the obligatory partner issues that are consistent with most of the law-oriented TV-shows, as well as the political side regarding the campaign managing by Eli Gold (Alan Cumming).
As I’ve already mentioned, Alicia Florrick is the leading lady in The Good Wife and she’s definitely one of the most interesting individuals in the entire show. In the beginning, as a viewer, we question her choices in her personal life but we can’t help to cheer her on in the court room. As the series progresses, we get to see her reasoning and her struggles to be a good wife to her husband Peter. Ironically, though I should dislike a cheater, I really like Chris Noth’s character – I think part of it has to do with the fact that we never see Peter as a cheater but witness his transformation back to a loyal husband and a great father. Besides, Margulies and Noth have a certain chemistry on screen that just feels right and compatible, almost as if they themselves have been together for years.
Since law is the main theme of the series, I’m not gonna go into Alicia’s home life (it is interesting, don’t get me wrong, but it would be too much), instead, I’ll be focusing on the characters in Stern, Lockhart & Gardner. Two of the partners in that law firm stand out, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) and Will Gardner (Josh Charles), both very appealing characters throughout the series due to their very loyal personalities. I think Diane is very similar to Alicia except that she chose her career over a family life and Will, well.. what is a television series without a lawyer who’s not just smart but also handsome and witty? – the answer is of course “nothing!”. Then again, there’s also Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry) who starts off as Alicia’s friendly competition and turns into a person who is most likely my favorite of the series. To balance the manly handsomeness, we have the occasionally seductive Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi) as the law firm’s mysterious personal investigator.
Since I have four seasons of knowledge regarding these characters I’m pretty much convinced that the casting has been on point with all the leading roles as well as guest stars. Margulies as Alicia is brilliant and those little moments when we get to witness her softer emotions are just priceless. Noth offers great support as well as Cumming, who is most likely the scene stealer in The Good Wife. Charles as Will has that look, I can’t describe it, but it just oozes confidence and I can’t imagine anyone else in that role. Baranski as Diane stands out especially in those moments where she gets side-tracked by a certain gentlemen and it’s hilarious! Panjabi is Kalinda and Kalinda is Panjabi which is all I have to say. And finally, the handsome and, I’m not gonna lie, my personal favorite Czuchry… Oh, Matt, I loved you in Gilmore Girls and I love you in The Good Wife and nothing else matters.
As I mentioned previously, the guest roles stand out for various reasons: firstly, they are consistent and secondly, they are very well cast. Though there are numerous judges that come to mind there are also attorneys and prosecutors that deserve a shout out. But, best things first, ladies and gentlemen, Michael J. Fox as Louis Canning is by far my favorite returning character in The Good Wife! I just love that man and even though his character is more or less a bad guy, I can’t fault him on anything really. Another stand-out and a really close favorite is Carrie Preston’s Elsbeth Tascioni who is just out of this world. At first I was waiting for a disaster since she was just so weird and then I fell in love with the fact that she was so cooky but in a talented way. Also memorable was Mamie Gummer’s Nanzy Crozier, the kind of character you really dislike because she is liked in the court room. That kind of false pretense of innocence was really annoying but on the other hand, Gummer managed to portray it well which makes her a believable villain.
When it comes to villains, nobody can deny that Dylan Baker’s Colin Sweeney will have all the awards. He is one of the few bad guys Alicia constantly defends because trouble just follows that man everywhere. There’s a lot of controversy when it comes to Sweeney but his twisted mind-set and his unpredictability is what I like about him. I also like Kurt McVeigh, portrayed by Gary Cole, who is a forensic scientist working on some of the cases as a material witness (I think I’m using this term correctly but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). Most of his appeal is to do with Diane Lockhart and the fact that they are the political opposites with McVeigh being a Palin supporter. Never thought I’d like a character who liked Palin but I guess there’s a first time for everything.
There are MANY centric relationships that stand out in The Good Wife but I’ll do my best to pick out the ones that are more prominent. As mentioned many times before, the first and a crucial relationship is the one she has with her husband Peter. Alicia and Peter have a very complicated relationship in the beginning of the series, in a way she has forgiven him but there’s still a certain wall that separates Peter from her and the kids. As the show progresses, their relationship goes through ups and downs because of many reasons that are also massive spoilers. I can say this, I was surprised how supportive I became towards their relationship and even now, I’m kind of rooting for them.
Though it is kind of spoiler-esque, I can’t write this post without mentioning Alicia’s relationship with Will. When we first meet Will, we find out that he is an old friend of Alicia’s and there is no doubt that the two have history. Contradictions arise not just in Alicia but also in the viewers (or at least this was the case with me) when the inevitable idea of a love triangle surfaces quite early on in the series. Though the show is much too sophisticated for this type of behavior, I want to be Team Will so badly and yet, Alicia is Alicia because of her principles and those principles, not to mention the strong connection to her husband, are telling her to be a loyal wife.
The Good Wife’s less about romance and more about friendship relationship is the one between Alicia and Cary. Without a doubt, this is the ship everybody should be rooting for from the beginning because this friendship will take you to all kinds of places. There’s a quote by Cary in the end of season 4 that is just spot on in terms of describing these two, I can’t spoil it but I’ll say that it’s worth finding out! As Alicia and Cary start off from the same place in terms of law firm hierarchy, The Good Wife creates an interesting journey for them separately as well as together.
The stand-out friendship between Alicia and Kalinda represents the girl-power aspect of The Good Wife. Indeed, they as well have hard times but as do all friendships. It is interesting to see the dynamic between Alicia and Kalinda because they are so different when the series stars off. Alicia’s personal life is public knowledge due to the sex scandal while Kalinda is very secretive about everything, it’s not until season 3 and 4 when Alicia gets to know Kalinda for who she really is and this will challenge their friendship.
Putting Alicia aside for a moment, I want to mention the core partnership in The Good Wife which is of course Diane and Will. When it comes to them I have to use a quote from the show because that is pretty much the best and the only way to describe these two: “We are like the perfect couple… without the sex.” They truly are the kind of partners that work on all levels and there’s a certain balance between them, even when the firm is going through some difficult times here and there.
I really like The Good Wife and I can’t wait to see more after the summer. The law aspect is definitely the thing I go for the most, since it has a very investigative side to it, but I can’t help to cheer for the relationships that the show brings to the table. From romantic encounters to true friendships, The Good Wife is a smart, fast and witty show with intriguing characters and interesting story lines. Though there are moments when things feel a bit dragged out, no show can completely avoid this anyway, it keeps things fresh by putting its characters through life changing events just when you thought things had cooled down.
As already said, the regular cast and the guest stars are strong and fit together very well. Though only the important ones were mentioned here, there are many more characters going through Stern, Lockhart & Gardner and the court rooms (including Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Michael Eely, Scott Porter, Denis O’Hare etc.) throughout the four seasons, not to mention Alicia’s family. Is this my favorite law show on television at the moment? Well, I’m an avid fan of Suits since the beginning and I can’t see any show reaching its level of appeal (especially when it comes to the cinematography) but The Good Wife is a close second for sure.