Last week on TV

Bad send-off for ‘The Good Wife.’

By
May 19, 2016 11:10
3 minute read.
‘The Good Wife’

‘The Good Wife’. (photo credit: PR)

 
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"Does it ever get easier?” a client accused of murder asked her attorney, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), in the pilot of The Good Wife, referring to the harsh glare of negative media attention.

“No, but you do get better at it,” Alicia replied.

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Robert and Michelle King got better at writing/producing The Good Wife, arguably the best network drama in television history, as the show progressed.

They took a character who was easy to relate to – the wife of a politician caught hiring call girls, who has to go back to work as a lawyer to support her family – and turned the series into much more than a feminist motivational fable. With every season, Alicia’s story became more complex and watchable as the Kings added more compelling characters – the opposite of most shows that start with a fixed cast and then stagnate.

It also touched on many issues in an interesting way through the court cases Alicia and her colleagues tried, including racial politics and hi-tech innovations.

So it was a surprise that the finale, which aired on May 8, struck a sour note with many fans and critics. Spoilers follow, so if you haven’t seen the episode yet, watch it before reading this.

Once again, Alicia’s husband, Illinois governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), was fighting criminal corruption charges, and just like Alicia, who said in a recent episode, “Peter, you’re always being indicted,” I found it hard to care about his fate. The Good Wife was many things in its seven-year run, but boring was never one of them, although the occasional plot thread didn’t work.



In the end, Alicia helped Peter get the best deal he could, and the show ended with a press conference that mirrored the opening scene, when Alicia, being “the good wife,” stood at his side as he resigned. In the first episode, once they were in private, Alicia slapped Peter. In the finale, she was approached in the corridor after the press conference by Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), her boss/ mentor, who slapped her. This was payback because, for reasons too complicated to explain, Alicia called Diane’s husband, a ballistics expert, to the stand in Peter’s trial and forced him to confess to having an affair with his young, blonde protege. The message of Diane’s slap was that Alicia had become the new Peter, just as corrupt as the husband she hadn’t yet divorced.

A week later, I am still haunted by the feeling that Alicia did not deserve this rebuke. One of the joys of the series was that it was as messy as real life. There were no perfect heroes and villains but fascinatingly flawed characters.

That said, it is true that Alicia used her “good wife” status to gain power at work, to help her children and whenever it suited her. Did that make her corrupt or just human? She also suffered deeply from the humiliation she went through and from fresh humiliations that were doled out, such as the revelation that her new best friend, the gutsy bisexual investigator Kalinda (Archie Panjabi, the breakout star of the show, with whom Margulies was rumored to have feuded), had an affair with Peter.

Did the Kings mean to say that by being the good wife, she became a bad human being? That negates so much of what we saw in the previous seven years of Alicia and her relationships with the other characters.

Is it wrong to love a woman who, when her husband says, “Oh, my God. How many times do I have to tell you when I cheated it didn’t mean anything?!” responds with, “Well, then, that was a waste. Because when I cheated, it did!” As Alicia said many times in court, “Asked and answered!” Israeli actress Ania Bukstein (False Flag) was expected to make her first appearance on Game of Thrones this past week, but although she was listed in the credits, she did not, unless she was hovering in the background.

Yousef “Joe” Sweid, another Israeli actor, did have a few lines in this episode as a slave leader.

Sweid recently starred in the TV series Johnny and the Knights of the Galilee.

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