THE GOOD SHOW
“The Good Wife,” CBS’s Tuesday night legaldramathat is nowmidway through an addictive and excellent second season, is one of those rare shows that become quietly totemic for loyal viewers, something we carry around but don’t talk about.
It subsists quite well on a tiny fraction of the hip hype and thinky deconstructionist recaps that many premium cable dramas generate as a matter of course. Hardly anybody tweets newthoughts about “ The Good Wife,” which draws about 12 million viewers a week. It’s just the good show.
Solet’s talkaboutit. ShouldAlicia Florrick (JuliannaMargulies) unshackle herselffrom the post-scandal, brave-faced obligations of her dutiful, Silda Spitzer-like political wifehood to find true love with Will Gardner (JoshCharles) at the lawfirmwhereshe isan overworked junior associate?
In a way, her love life is the least of our worries, on a show that has somehow managed to update and make mainstream the
CBS’s legal drama
‘The Good Wife’ revives the lost art of the long story arc
lost art of the long story arc. It asks you to remember what happened a fewepisodes— or30episodes— ago. It’s anetworkshowfor the last fewof us who can do that.
“The Good Wife” was born from an obvious pitch: The stoic spouse of one of those politicians who can’t keep his pants zipped — what goes through her mind during the media circus that ensues?
Instead of becoming a story about a bitter divorce and a tell-almost-all book contract, “ The Good Wife,” created by husband-wife team Robert and Michelle King, took seriously the theme of reinvention and self-reliance, as told through the eyes of a woman who was able to look away from her own press (imagine!). Right away, Alicia’s choices left behind the parallels to headlines and entered the realm of satisfying fiction. Her husband(ChrisNoth), the state’sattorney in Chicago, went to prison; to support her two teenagers, Alicia fell back on her lawdegree.
Thus the show magically soothes an upper-middle-class recessionary qualm about the general lack of a Plan B for people with advanced degrees: Can you find a job after taking a long break in your career to raise kids?
Unlike thousands of recent and still unemployed law-school grads in the real world, Aliciawasimmediately hired, thanks toconnections— namelyWillGardner, with whom Alicia went to law school at Georgetown.
The job she gotwasequallymake-believe, sending her promptly into television’s warp-speed concept of what a lawyer does and how the court system works. In Alicia’s world, cases come to trial and receive a verdictbeforehour’s end. Ratherthaninvite scoff and scorn, I’d wager that “ The Good Wife” is raptly watched by members of the bar.
“ The Good Wife” owes most of its ratings to decades of court procedural dramas and fictional lawyers who predate Alicia, as far back as Perry Mason. The caseload is what