I don’t get why The Good Wife hasn’t reached the same caliber of acclaim that Mad Men or Breaking Bad has. The show is just as cunning and well written as the other two shows, and definitely just as smart. Most of the characters in The Good Wife are morally corrupt and grey, but what sets this show apart from others is that it’s not grounded by an antihero. Alicia, despite all her flaws, is a very well written female character. She’s introverted, calm, incredibly smart and calculated and spends most of her time finding out who she really is. She’s had to totally reevaluate her life, and by extension, herself. The third season really delves into the part of Alicia as she struggles to find her identity.
Let’s talk about the other women in the show, too, shall we? Alicia has spent two years finding her strength and power and it’s all new to her. She’s still not comfortable using her name as a way to get up the corporate ladder, so she tries to advance solely on merit. She’s been out of the workforce for so long she doesn’t understand there’s nothing to her besides her name, as much as she fights against it. Diane Lockhart, Alicia’s boss and name partner at Lockhart/Gardner, acts as mentor of sorts to Alicia and explains that there is nothing wrong with using her political connections to get what she wants. Diane understands this is still a man’s game and she was only hired because they needed a woman to add a little diversity. She uses her femininity to her advantage, much like Kalinda Sharma. Kalinda has sexual chemistry with everyone and uses it to get what she wants. All three of these women are incredibly strong, well written females with their own set of issues. It’s so refreshing to see these kind of women on TV. The writers are brave enough to use Alicia and Kalinda and Diane and the many other female characters as women whose gender affects how they move up in the world. It’s a very feminist show without alienating the male characters, who are also very strong, well-written men.
So what does Alicia want? She doesn’t want power, or fame, or prestige. She wants Will and she wants to be a good lawyer and she wants to be a good mother. But what happens when she gets what she wants and it doesn’t work out? After trying it with Will she realizes there’s just too many distractions and as much as she doesn’t want to, she and Will break up. I commend the writers for not prolonging the will they/won’t they sexual tension and having the two actually consummate their relationship. I also appreciate the writers understanding it didn’t quite work and split the two up. Alicia wants to be a good mom and a good lawyer more than she wants to be with Will. I do think women can have exciting, new relationships, be good at their jobs AND be good moms, however. For Alicia it was all just too much.
And Will? Well, Will spends most of the season fighting bribery charges that could land him in jail. Peter hires Wendy Scott-Carr (Anika Noni Rose) to put together a grand jury indictment against Will, while Will hires Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston, who is fantastic) as his lawyer. Will’s accused of paying off judges and bribing them in exchange for lenient sentences for his clients. It’s not true, however, but he did steal $45,000 from a client several years ago. As a result he has his law license suspended for 6 months.
Picking up Will’s mess is Diane and Eli. Eli, when not helping Peter get a campaign for governor together, has been hired by the cheese lobbyists to help Cheese’s image. Yes. You read that right. Some cheese made a bunch of schoolkids sick so Eli’s there to act as crisis manager for cheese. He fights with the fruit and grains and corn lobbies to try and get a new food pyramid. Also, his ex-wife is running for State Senate and Amy Sedaris is her campaign manager. Brilliant.
Diane stands up for Will and holds his spot in the firm while other partners try to take his office and his name off the door. Diane is so wonderful and so loyal to Will. She’s also instrumental in getting Cay back to Lockhart/Gardner. Some of my favorite moments in the whole series are Will and Diane sitting in her office drinking scotch and just talking. Or dancing. Or fighting. Their moments together, and Christine Baranski and Josh Charles’ chemisty, are such lovely little moments of levity in a heavy show. Diane finds out about WIll’s affair with Alicia and tells him to stop. They’ve always been equals, but in that moment Diane steps up and becomes his boss in one of my favorite scenes of the whole series.
Lovely Cary Agos spends his time at the ASA’s office getting promoted and then demoted before going back to Lockhart/Gardner. I’m so glad Alicia and Cary will be working together again! I just love Cary’s smile and his love for ethnic girls. Blake’s gone (YES!!!!) so Kalinda spends most of the season apologizing to Alicia and wanting her forgiveness. The ice begins to thaw a little, especially when Kalinda finds Alicia’s missing daughter. I just want these two to be friends again because Alicia really needs a friend.
Alicia and Peter remain separated but there’s no hostility between them. They’re a great team. Peter has given up on Alicia forgiving him, so he becomes her equal and helps her with the kids and begins to move on in his life. For some reason this pleases Alicia and at the end of the season she looks at Peter with a different perspective. I don’t think Alicia should be with Peter, but I also don’t think Will’s her only other choice.
The Good Wife is a good mix of procedural and serialization, but I prefer it as a serial drama. Not that I have anything against procedurals (I thought Fringe was better as a procedural, for what’s it worth) but The Good Wife is so good at setting up storylines that play throughout the season. The best Good Wife episodes are ones with interesting cases of the week that allows us to get to know our characters better. Will’s arc this season was very well done and was a great example of a story arc that pulls every character into it in a way that feels organic.
A lot of past law dramas rely too heavy on their cases. The Good Wife doesn’t do that. The cases set the tone, but they are there only as exposition. They don’t rely on histrionics or passionate closing arguments to close out episodes. Most law dramas end in the courtroom, but not Good Wife. We see what happens when the cases end and when these characters go home. Alicia goes home to her sometimes empty house and drinks wine; Diane and Will practically live in the office, and Kalinda, well, Kalinda remains a mystery. At the end of the day we care more about these characters than the case of the week. But man they have some pretty fantastic cases of the week.
– The episode titles have the number of words to correspond with which season the episode takes place. For example, all of season one has one word titles, season two two words, etc. Very cool. They continue this way throughout season four.
– Notable episodes: “Executive Order 13224,” Another Ham Sandwich,” “Long Way Home.” and “The Dream Team.”
– More great work from excellent guest stars. Buzzfeed has an exhaustive list of guest stars throughout the series. (Beware: spoilers for season 4.)
– Alicia gets a new, fancy haircut this season further proving she’s trying to prove she’s a different, more assertive person. The stuff with she and Will is very well done, and the writers handled the breakup maturely and gracefully.