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