I’ve happened to look over shoulders a few times to see The Good Wife being watched and in recent weeks I’ve found myself no longer peering over shoulders but rather making a conscious effort to watch. I thought I’d talk about the show as it’s taken up a lot of “binge watching” time recently. It’s on CBS so the content that can be covered should be somewhat limited. I’m surprised by what they’ve been able to get away with while not being on a pay-network like HBO.
I believe the show just entered its seventh season. That’s a pretty long run for any show and to this point (from what I’ve seen) there have only been a couple sour plot lines of note. Let me get to that in a moment though. I should start by giving a brief summation of the show. The Good Wife stars Julianna Margulies as a woman that opts out of practicing law to raise a family and comes back to it some thirteen years later. She is hired by Lockhart & Gardner (Diane and Will, played by Christine Baranski and Josh Charles respectively) and proceeds to do lawyerly things like sleep with the boss, stab her firm in the back, and pronounce herself an atheist at an event held by her governor-elect husband. For a lawyer show that doesn’t often deal in law, the time dedicated focuses on a version of it regular peons such as myself will ever be privy to. Deals are brokered for multiple millions of dollars. High-stakes games are regularly played. Lives are judged and valued in terms of monetary settlements. I’m probably not doing the show much justice but there are certainly high-points worth mentioning.
There are a lot of special guests that appear on the show. Some are regularly scheduled guests while others drop in for only an episode. Michael J Fox appears as a lawyer for a competing firm that plays up his disease to win favor with both judges and juries. His character is snaky yet I can’t help but smile every time he’s on screen. He’s just so damned loveable even if he’s playing an antagonist. Nathan Lane plays Clarke Hayden, a financial specialist who eventually becomes a lawyer. His character is sweet, honest, and enamored with the law. Obviously that gets taken advantage of and becomes tarnished the more he’s on the show. There are several judges throughout the show and it’s fun to see the likes of Kurt Fuller, Denis O’Hare, Victor Garber, David Paymer, Jeffrey Tambor, Jane Curtin, Bebe Neuwirth, Christopher McDonald, Stephen Root, Jerry Stiller, David Oyelowo, Richard Kind, Reg E. Cathey, and Judd Hirsch among others sit behind the bench. There are lots of other special guest appearances and it’s always exciting to see who will be in the next episode. I give special mention to Matthew Lillard obviously because he’s great but specifically because the song his character performs is ridiculously fun and catchy.
Admittedly, I didn’t really invest in the show until a little more than halfway through the third season. That being said, I was able to piece together the particulars rather quickly and don’t know that missing the first couple seasons really affected my viewing. There are protagonists and antagonists galore in the State’s Attorney office, various private firms, and the different levels of government portrayed. There are good and bad clients, jurors, family members, and walk-on characters. As mentioned previously, there have been only a few storylines that fell flat. The investigator for Lockhart & Gardner (played by Archie Panjabi looking like she’s continually on the verge of crying) has a delinquent husband that shows up for a few episodes. It’s particularly exhausting. I’m told that the Julianna Margulies’ character found her inspiration to practice law again after a family-raising hiatus because her husband (played by Chris Noth) cheated on her. I didn’t see the first few episodes but suffice it to say this plot point has grown old. She trusts him, she doesn’t trust him, they’re together, they’re not… It’s tiresome and I’d like to see it put to rest. Unfortunately his character works for the State’s Attorney and then becomes Governor of Illinois so their personal lives are on display and scrutinized in almost every episode. Blah.
I mentioned briefly at the beginning that I was surprised at what they allowed onto the show. There’s obviously the mention of not one but two non-religious people and using the a-word a couple times in an episode of American television is pretty special. Speaking of words that don’t often make it onto network television, The Good Wife has a great way of including (or at least alluding to) swear words that accentuate highly emotional scenes. Rather than just bleeping out the word, some clever camera play will cause the person saying the expletive to be blurred from focus. A person might walk in front of the camera and divert attention, for instance. Other times there might be a loud noise in the background that will replace the bleeped out word. It sometimes makes for a comedic scene, but I welcome artistic ways to make the show more realistic. I couldn’t imagine not saying “fuck” at least a couple times if I sat across from a family member’s accused killer in a deposition. Suffice it to say, The Good Wife tackles this quite well.
The Good Wife is not great but it’s good. There isn’t a lot of focus on the law like you’d think a lawyer show might have, but most of the story arcs are acceptable and I don’t know that any of the characters really annoy me (which is rare). I will say that Will Gardner’s actor (Josh Charles) has a bird face. It doesn’t detract from the show but rather adds comedy to each scene he’s in. Imagining him KAW-KAW instead of delivering exposition is awesome. Imagining him as Sam The Eagle on the Muppet Show only adds to the experience. This goes for all other shows and movies in his career past, present, and future.
I made a mental note to include a special note at the end of this post to briefly speak about Alan Cumming and Gary Cole. Both actors appear on the show and are incredibly fantastic. I’ve spoken about how I think Gary Cole adds to any show he’s in and this is no exception. Alan Cumming is one of the reasons I watch this. Finally, here’s a link to Thicky Trick, the catchy song from Season five.