“The Good Wife” Is Not Only Smart TV But Offers Women Many Valuable Lessons In Love & Life

PART ONE of my “THE GOOD WIFE” BREAKDOWN:

In case you are otherwise occupied I highly recommend that you amend your schedule to include the CBS drama “The Good Wife”. If you can’t watch it during the scheduled broadcast time Tuesdays at 10pm it’s available at the network’s official site to view online (great use of your commuting time).

The Executive Producers of the show are husband and wife duo Michelle & Robert King who are also the Showrunners and it’s one of the few scripted television series left in the wake of “reality” tv – and it’s GOOD! I am pleasantly surprised when week to week the writers surprise the viewing audience as they progressively challenge us with their multi-layered scripts.

The show is built around the premise of the stand-by-her-man wife of  State’s Attorney General Peter Florrick (he was supposed to be modeled after Eliot Spitzer or really any male politician  [John Edwards, etc]) who got caught in a sex scandal and is sent to prison. He’s trying to clear his name from being charged with corruption as he contends he was only cheating on his wife not the State. His political rival who currently holds his former job is trying to keep him in prison while his wife Alicia is trying to hold the family together and get along with her mother-in-law. Oh and she also squares off against her husband’s rival a few times which makes for some interesting episodes. 

The “loyal wife” angle wasn’t what interested in me in the series. It was the casting of Julianna Margulies as the lead. Several years ago she caused a bit of brouhaha by turning down a new contract for $27M to remain on the hospital drama ER which would have made her the highest paid television actress ever.

I was intrigued what type of series would prompt her to sign up for another lengthy contract (lead actors have a 5-year minimum). From the onset you could tell right away this show was far more clever than the way it had initially been marketed. Season One the show needed to gain traction and get its footing but it was consistently intriguing. From the choice of bit players to guest stars it’s QUALITY all the way.

Alicia Florrick has to leave her cushy suburban life once her husband is caught sexing hookers and is sent to prison. As the now sole breadwinner for a family of four with two teenaged children she calls on her former college flame Will Gardner for job with his law firm. The backstory is that she, Will & Peter all attended school around the same time. She briefly dated Will before moving on to and marrying Peter and birthing his babies. Money is tight but she still wears Ralph Lauren and high heels.

LESSON 1: Do  NOT let your husband’s  FOUL behavior leave YOU looking or acting like you’re dead!

One thing I’ve found interesting is that Alicia has barely had a re-learning curve when it comes to her practicing law. As a Junior Associate she’s smart but fair. Of course Will being her official work mentor helps. The other Managing Partner is a very elegant older woman named Diane Lockhart. The firm is left in financial straits when their third partner, who’d also mentored Diane when she was rising the ranks leaves taking one third of the business with him.

The show has a good balance of tension but they don’t condescend and they thankfully don’t throw a plot point out just to be clever (even as they often are)! Everything eventually adds up. It’s not an action-based adrenaline ride or blink and you’ll miss it dialog.

It’s very prescient in current trends, events and the economy. Lawyers are getting laid off! No job is safe! I also liked the way the friendship was developed between Alicia and Kalinda, the firm’s Investigator. I was very wary of the idea of an “office” friendship and the fact that Alicia was so open with her about personal details of her private life but so far the writers have not written one female character as being catty or disloyal to each other.

I’ll continue with a character review and analysis in Part Two so this post isn’t too long. I’m not necessarily covering this in chronological order but how I think the relationships impact the characters. Here’s the “Official Recap” by CBS (but so many details left out like the Florrick children and KALINDA!)

**My Season One highlights:

(a)  Alicia telling Will she needs a plan. He made it clear he wanted to be with her and she said she was open to it BUT she has kids AND a husband (that she’d presumably leave). It can’t just be about SEX or reliving the past!!

Lesson 2: KNOW YOUR WORTH.

and

Lesson 3: Have a parachute and BE ready to bounce when the time is right.

and

(b)  Alicia is a nice person. She’s just not going to let anyone roll over on her. The firm had to cut staff and she made a decision to sink or swim. Life does not provide an equitable playing field and she was smart enough to take the benefits of still being married to a man who had some power and made it work to her advantage.

LESSON 4: Play to WIN!

**If you’ve been watching the show leave your comments. I’ll be discussing Season Two in the next post)

(cont’d next Friday)

 

15 comments to “The Good Wife” Is Not Only Smart TV But Offers Women Many Valuable Lessons In Love & Life

  • Your review to the characters made me so interested to actually watch the show. I love most the Lessons you have posted. they're inspiring and make your readers reflective.

  • one of the most famous and crowd-drawing spots in Amsterdam is the house of Anne Frank. It is this house, behind a church, where the Jewish girl hid and wrote her diaries. The place where she lived and wrote is visited by many each year and leaves an unforgettable impression on most.

  • hmmmm gonna have to check out that show.

  • The Good Wife is brilliant, I love this programme. Faith, I love the way to break "The Good Wife".

  • Woo hoo! You published "The Good Wife" post! As I mentioned in your last post, I am a fan of this show. This is one of the few shows on tv that keeps me on my toes. And yes, I love Alicia's challenge to Will "I Need a Plan". I really want these two to make it happen as complicated and messy the fallout would be from an Alicia/Will relationship.

    I have a soft spot for Josh Charles (Will) since he is from my hometown so I am Team Will all the way.

    …And Wendy Scott-Carr (Anika Noni Rose) -- she is bringing the fierceness to her role. I am looking forward to seeing her story develop.

  • MsMellody

    Sorry about that I didnt finish my earlier comments.

    2. The Good Wife -- yes Faith your key points that you pulled from Season One are on point. I especially appreciated how Alicia Florrick is evolving in terms of her character. And yes the way the show was marketed I too thought that this was going to be a rehashing of the "stand by your man" schtick but lo and behold we have been given an actual female character with backbone and a velvet touch. She is shrewd enough to realize that she has worth, and has recognized now that she has feelings for Will and feelings for Peter.

    I was glad to overjoyed to hear her tell Will that she "needed a plan"!! I thought that was real empowerment there for women, it showed her to be smart..she wasnt just going to let a hand grenade explode in the middle of her family for some man. And yes Will does have his own source of power, money, career. But being with Will means turning her work/career life upside down -- and in turn confirming all the office rumors and in turn making her work life unbearable as to her persona of a private person/respectable woman.

    And that episode where she had to make that crucial personal decision to indeed tap into her husband's considerable political/social power -- that was awesome! I liked the way she handled that, and took personal note as to how to handle such a sticky personal political moment. As I am fond of saying -"all politics is local". The very important lesson I took from that was be careful, but if the time is right to use YOUR husband's social/political/economical/career based power use it to your advantage.

    Case in point, from a commenter at one of the many BWE-IR blogs -- where this commenter said that she had a cousin who was married into a very influential family in terms of academia in her area. This cousin of the commenter got hired at an academic position because of who this woman's husband/family was. I thought about that long and hard and agreed that I too when the time is right will "par lait" the influence/connections that my husband and his family have when I need to as well. This is yet another one of those {air quotes here} unspken benefits of marrying up. And as other discussions here and across the BWE-IR blogosphere have shown -- Asian women do it, Hispanic women do it and you know for sho' nuff White women do it. It's my turn now!!

  • Faith, this has to be my only TV indulgence. I like the balance of the gender issues and also that the single people on the show are not the "despairing for a date" types. And my favorite interplay is between Will & Alicia (got to have a plan … just being employed, male and sexy is not good enough). I have a feeling that there is real love between them and at some point they will have to face that head on. I, for one, can't wait to see how it all plays out.

  • MsMellody

    This is ONE of the BEST shows on tv today--cable and or network included!!!

    It is absolutely my favorite and hits close to home for both locale and occupation. It is well written and intriguing. It is one of 2 shows that my husband and I snuggle in bed to watch! It is literally date nite tv.

    We have it scheduled for the dvr to record and he even comes out of his "man-cave" room on time with a glass of wine for both of us and we head to the bedroom suite for our Tues. nite snuggle. Did I say snuggle enough (lol).

    He is one of those logic driven analytical types and he and I often do not see eye to eye on television entertainment -- but he and I agree on this well scripted, tightly wound drama.

    I also want to tip my hat to you Faith for your love of some of the other tv and movie recommendations you have given. I am going to be bold here and add the following tips for us women who are making lists/journaling/planning and putting concrete steps in motion for the 'Well Lived Life';

    1. HGTV -- I am coming out of the closet here so to speak (lol) to say that I am totally addicted to HGTV ( House Hunters International, House Hunter, Property Virgins, Selling New York, Income Property, etc..just about the entire network's line up..OOOOOH let me not forget an actual "reality" vehicle that I even intro'd my husband to and he watches it now -- Holmes on Homes!!!!!)

    Faith I would like to write an essay or something about the effect that HGTV has had on me as a woman. I mean it just sets off all my bells and whistles (lol) ..it's like I can constantly with a click of the DirectTV remote visit hundreds of couples on their search for homes, I can vicariously visit locales that are on my list for future vacation spots..I can while baking chicken take a look at the square footage of a Amsterdam vacation home…I can see "More Bang for the Buck" and take notes on kitchen re-do's and make mental notes as to who spent wisely for their home remodel in North Carolina to Egypt!! I could go on and on.

    BUT -- what I want other bwe-ir readers to garner from this is that..if you have dreams and motions to have a better life and maybe you dont have time to do a lot of house hunting and maybe you always wanted to see some of these great spots, you can do that now with the advent of these "reality" based shows!! It is just totally inspiring/instructive and entertaining all in one.

    2.

  • Nia-Maya

    Hi Faith -- I absolutely LOVE this show!! I have been a fan since its debut season. Finally, there is a show for thinking adults and I was pleased when the actress who portrays Kalinda received an Emmy award this year!! I am seriously considering buying Season 1 on DVD -- LOL. I like the fact that the writers keep surprising me as a viewer too. Just when you think you KNOW where a storyline is going, then WHAM, they hit you with a curve ball from left-field!! Your Lessons 1-4 are on point and I'm looking forward to your discussion of Season 2.

  • wow, that makes me want to actually watch the show :)