As good as it gets
It’s real life and all its wrinkles that make The Good Wife so good.
WHEN Robert and Michelle King created The Good Wife, they wanted it to be the antithesis of every other legal drama on TV.
You know the type of show – where the heroes are losing the case until one of them makes an impassioned speech and wins over the jury.
“Have they seen life?” asks Robert. “When has anyone given an impassioned speech and turned around a jury or anybody? And so ( The Good Wife) was really meant to be a reaction against idealism as a way that wins. Idealism doesn’t win. A lot of scumbags get ahead.
“( The way) people win in court with is usually through … chess- like strategy and the use of the law and the loopholes in the law to win.”
Beginning in 2009 the series follows Alicia ( Julianna Margulies), the “embarrassed wife” of scandalplagued cheating politician Peter ( Chris North), who returns to her legal career.
Six seasons in and Alicia’s been running for state’s attorney, in a story arc the Kings say was inspired by Hillary Clinton stepping out from her cheating husband Bill’s shadow to run for president.
“( It’s) a new way to go,” Robert says. “Otherwise you get a little stale if you keep trying to explore the same dynamic of him being a bad boy and her being the consistently good wife standing by him.”
But he says the series isn’t some simple fable about female empowerment or “feminist with a capital F”.
“What it always was going to be in our minds was a wife who starts to become more calculated and more power hungry herself and starts moving in the direction of what the husband was,” he explains.
Michelle explains they’re most fascinated by moral grey areas.
“My favourite episodes start with everyone in the writers room arguing very passionately about ethics or about the law,” she says. “That’s when we know we’re on to something.”
Although she adds there are a few drawbacks with this.
“If there’s any great fault of the show it’s that we keep falling in love with our antagonist,” she says, using the example of Diane ( Christine Baranski) who started the series as an icy bitch mentor who was supposed to undermine Alicia at every turn.
“Now, of course, you see them hugging in episodes,” she says.
Likewise with David Hyde Pierce, who plays the other candidate for state’s attorney. Initially he was meant to be an out- and- out villain.
“But you always kind of end up embracing the spirit the guy ( Hyde Pierce) brings with him. So a lot of it is trying to fi nd a way where he can still be antagonistic in the plotting but you can still see there’s a human being there.”
THE GOOD WIFE
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Power play: Julianna Margulies’ Alicia Florrick has gone from embarrassed wife to political
force in The Good Wife.