2.2.15

You need to watch...The Good Wife

Ok so I mentioned that I was going to be branching out to cover things other than fashion and beauty, so here goes. 

I already mentioned I'd cover work-related things on here, and while a TV review might not naturally be considered a work-related story (speaking of, I have been known to write the odd TV review over here at my friend's website, Vodzilla). But there's so much good in this show that I just had to cover it here. 

The main cast of The Good Wife - image via Huffington Post

So what's the story?


For the uninitiated, the show centres on the eponymous good wife, Alicia Florrick (played by Julianna Margulies), who at the start of the show is at the centre of a series of scandals centred on her husband, Peter (bad boy-for-hire Chris Noth), amid rumours of both corruption and exchanging sex for favours. He steps down from his post as State's Attorney and heads to the big house, leaving Alicia, a qualified lawyer, to keep house, taken under the wing of her former law school flame Will (Josh Charles) and his partner Diane (Christine Baranski) at their firm. The show is in its sixth season now, with feuds, flings and fallouts aplenty. Need reasons to get on board? Read on...

Scalable Successes 

While Alicia has risen rapidly (as a woman with eye makeup game that strong was never going to sit around) up the ranks and has dealt with drama after drama in both her personal and work life (though the two have often merged) in a way that is reassuringly human. When she falls, she falls hard, and while she doesn't waste time wallowing she reacts in a way that is reassuringly human and definitely relatable. As is fitting in a legal drama, every character goes through phases of debatable morals and does things that make us shake our heads, only to have us cheer for them or weep for them moments later. And a sparkling script truly does give those moments of satisfaction; from the moments that mimic Mad Men's triumphant 'Shut The Door, Have A Seat' to the deathly still moments before the proverbial substance hits the fan, to the deadpan delivery of such excellent comic co-stars as Alan Cumming and Zach Grenier, the variety of acting and writing talent in this show is unparalleled. 

Leading Ladies 


The beauty of the show comes in many facets, but putting a poised, seemingly flawless but refreshingly relatable female character at its heart is its crowning glory. Sure, we might not all be Chicago lawyers with perfect hair, but we've all suffered setbacks, big or small, and we've all found a way to come back. But if only we could do it in such style as Alicia does. The show has often been praised for its line-up of (*grimaces*) strong female leads. Prior to getting immersed in the world of Chicago law, I wanted to be House of Cards' Claire Underwood. Now, I want to be Alicia, or her perfectly coiffed mentor Diane. I'd be absolutely terrified of turning into the mildly psychotic genius investigator Kalinda (who I can now finally take seriously after her excellent comic turn in Bend It Like Beckham), but even she brings a different side of the central concept to the table - the things women will endure, and overcome, to get to the top of their game. We see them make bad choices, make excellent choices, and struggle to balance work and home. But, tellingly, we see the male characters do the same - make romantic sacrifices, struggle with difficult family members, lose, and bounce back. As with the law, there are no out-and-out heroes; only people, and the problems they face. And of those people, there's someone every viewer can root for. Even the younger audience; Alicia's impressively well-rounded and savvy teenage children are given as serious a role to play in the show as they would in reality - something that can't really be said for the children in other political shows such as Scandal. 


Speaking of Scandal, here's another show with leading ladies with killer working wardrobes. I gather that Diane's brooch collection has spawned a multitude of Pinterest boards, and I read a post on Buzzfeed nodding to Kalinda's preference for what that writer referred to as 'The Sexy Boots Of Justice'. But for a show about a working mother who in the uncertain stages of her marriage was facing potential financial troubles, the fact that Alicia noticeably recycles her outfits is a nice little sartorial touch. 

Good PR for Law


While there are personal games to play and politics is as much a part of the show as the law is, it's the law that keeps me hooked. As the child of a lawyer and growing up surrounded by them, I've always had a healthy diet of British legal dramas to keep me with one eye on both sides of an argument, but it's been a while since I've seen a drama where the truly fascinating legal wranglings take centre stage as much as the characters' personal lives do. Dare I say it, it's making the law look so glamorous I want to retrain, and having seen how many of my law graduate friends are actually employed now I know how foolish that desire is. But glamour isn't just about attractive, polished casting. The tension in the courtroom scenes is so real you can almost feel it, and with so much adrenalin built over each episode the payoff so real you feel like you're part of it. Or like cheering. I often do both. But, because this show is boldly not glamorous enough to be fake, you feel the crushing losses as well. Familiar opponents return to do battle with our heroes and familiar judges appear with their historic habits and thinly veiled prejudices. Victory is never certain, and all too often the decision is based on little more than a whim, a personal feeling, or a vendetta. It reminds you of the many flaws in the law, but reminds you of the need to cling to it. Against the backdrop of Peter's desire to run a clean campaign, Alicia's parallel perseverance to uphold the often-unjust law is at times difficult to stomach. But that's yet another example of the show's brilliance - it doesn't flinch away for what's  often worse than the truth; when a lie is believed. 

In touch with the zeitgeist

This could just be because I spend too much time mired in fantasy shows (and I'll include Gossip Girl in that), but seeing the way the digital world has changed our real world played out in a non-real but also hyper-aware show is absolutely fascinating. From a fictional search giant that buys out the competition (with a CEO who is more comfortable in hoodies and a fiancee with a closely guarded prenup) to a messenger board whose name ends in 'it', to cases involving Bitcoin and the early stages of a campaign run and ruined on Twitter, this is a show that's aware of the modern world and aware of how its popularity is playing out online. Call me naive, and point me to loads of other shows that do this, but this is far beyond Zoe Barnes sending a tweet to destroy her editor. This is a show with its finger wryly on the pulse, acting almost as a moot for real cases that have, that could, and that probably are, happening right now. From a messaging thread smearing a bombing suspect to an angry titan pushing its competitor down in search, there's an element of reality running through every fantastical case. I'm very excited for the new series' handling of the release of private celebrity photos. It also (hilariously) touches on the ludicrousness of the 'office of the future', with teleconferencing staff replaced by rolling iPads on wheels and the confused looks of heritage partners at the snappy, sexy rebrand of the series' central firm, Lockhart Gardner.

The entire thing is now streaming on Netflix and Season Six has just started on More4. Sure, it's not perfect, and who knows if I'll love it as much by the time I finish Season Five. But as the nights stay cold, there's no place I'd rather be right now than a night in watching fabulous women kick serious butt. 

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