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December 08, 2009

Staying Married to "The Good Wife"

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The-good-wife-the-first-season-large2 Originally I thought "The Good Wife" was going to be a cross between LA Law and "Thirtysomething."  But, I'm pleased to say it's much better than that questionable hybrid would have been.

Julianna Margulies plays Alicia Florrick, the wronged wife of a district attorney caught with his pants down in the company of a prostitute.  Think Eliot Spitzer for the small screen. 

The story revolves around Alicia having to pick up the pieces of her family after her husband is sent to jail.  She goes back to practicing law, becoming one of two junior associates fighting for the same job. 

Margulies is great as the tough, yet sympathetic Alicia who has to learn on the fly as she tries to start her life over.  Making things even more difficult is the public dissection of her marriage.  For example when her husband's prostitute does the talk show circuit claiming he called Alicia "frigid" during pillow talk.

Needless to say, whenever Alicia's assigned to a case her unwanted notoriety is often a hindrance. 

The show smoothly shifts from legal drama to family drama with Alicia re-learning the ropes in the courtroom and managing her kids at home.   The legal cases have been fairly interesting and also provided enough of a challenge to Alicia for us to care about her. 

The weakest plot is the preposterous idea that Alicia's 14-year-old son would be trying on his own, to figure out who might have framed his dad, after he intercepts incriminating photos he discovers were photoshopped.  In fact neither of the kids come across very realistically.  If they plan to give us more of them, the writers better get to work on them and fast.

In a wonderful bit of creative casting, Archie Panjabi plays the firm's sharp and sexy private eye Kalinda Sharma.  She's smart, but low key and a pleasure to watch.  Matt Czuchry formerly Logan on "Gilmore Girls" plays Cary, the other junior associate fighting for that one permanent slot at the firm. 

Cary is a lot like Logan, charming, a killer smile and not lacking in confidence.  What's nice though is the writers haven't turned the competition between he and Alicia into a stereotypical, "let's see who can cut the other's throat first" plot.  They've given their relationship some depth and even had them working well together on a couple of cases.

Christine Baranski brings her marvelous Christine Baranski-ness to the role of Diane Lockhart, one of the firm's partners.  Oh and Mr. Big himself, Chris Noth plays Alicia's cad of a husband who may or may not be guilty of corruption.

What does the blogosphere think about "The Good Wife?"

Shesajerkbutshesright at A Tapered Mind loves the show:

The best show on television belongs to stodgy old bastard CBS, and stars the lovely and talented Juliana Marguiles. Despite the unfortunate title (which I hate SO MUCH) the show is flippin amazing and I hope it sticks around as long as it wants to. It’s that good.

Aryeh S. at Clique Clack sees parallels between "The Good Wife" and modern day gossip:

I’ve never really found myself interested enough in a stranger’s life to talk about it with others, but I suppose I can understand the allure. What I can’t understand is what we see time and again on The Good Wife: people feeling it necessary for Alicia to see, hear, and watch as she’s ripped apart by strangers. What’s that about?

Meredith O'Brien at Notes From The Asylum likes the show better when the plots focus on the family:

For several weeks, Good Wife episodes have tilted too heavily for my taste toward becoming a legal procedural with only a little sprinkling of the drama that makes this show different from all the rest of the legal procedurals: A woman rebuilding her life with her children after her husband publically humiliated her with dalliances with hookers. I wanted to see the dramatization of how women (Silda Spitzer, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Edwards) remain in their marriages in the wake of such devastating events.

However Kellybelle at Ephphatha sampled the show briefly and wasn't impressed:

Too much "girl power." Too much "no one takes me seriously because I'm pretty." Too much "marriage is martyrdom." I'm tired of Boomer women whining about all the choices their mothers and women of color never had.

I don't look to "The Good Wife" to see how a political wife in this situation would actually react.  I wouldn't expect that much from any TV drama.  However, I do think that for a show that uses the wronged wife as a setup, it's quite well done.

"The Good Wife" airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on CBS.

Related Link:

"Watching 'The Good Wife,' Whether or not You Are One."  by Deb on the Rocks

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