“The Good Wife” Is Not Just a Good Show: It Is the Best Show

I have attempted to make this point to anyone listen. I have said it so many times and kept up with each season and episode that my opinion is slowly becoming a proven fact. Last week, The Good Wife came back from a two month-long hiatus and continued its new episode run last night. It came back with other programming returns put on hold because of the consequential events of the Super Bowl, Winter Olympics and (most importantly) award shows. Alongside all these other programs, The Good Wife seemed to return and take its rightful spot as one of the superior shows this season. If you started to read this post and may be asking what is this show?  or I’ve heard of it, but never looked into it or really, the best show? please read on for I believe I make a strong case of why it is not only one of the best but the best show on television.

(From left) Matt Czuchry, Julianna Margulies, Josh Charles & Christine Baranski pictured in Entertainment Weekly
(From left) Matt Czuchry, Julianna Margulies, Josh Charles & Christine Baranski pictured in Entertainment Weekly

Quick synopsis for those who have chosen to fully deprive their lives of this fine program: Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) is a State Attorney’s wife who after 10+ years of being a stay at home mom of two, goes back to practice law when her husband, the State Attorney of Cook County Illinois (Chris Noth) is jailed for charges of corruption in office. All unveiled when he was caught having an affair with a prostitute. Drama. So, Alicia goes back to work as a first year associate with help from a college buddy/ex-boyfriend, Will Gardner (Josh Charles), who is now a partner of the firm with Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski). While at work, Alicia gets to play with Carry Agos (Matt Czuchry), Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi), and Eli Gold (Alan Cumming).

Like few shows I become an ultimate fan of, I did not watch The Good Wife when it first premiered in 2009. I was actually not that intrigued by what seemed to be “rip from the headlines right now” kind of show. The Good Wife premiered alongside the numerous sex scandals of public officials that were taking ahold of the public’s attention through the constant reporting of every detail by our informative media. The show’s promotions were basically aired after each news story, capturing the concept “art imitating life”.  So I carried on with my love for Private Practice, Ugly Betty & Gossip Girl (hey, I was in high school at the time). It was not until Season 3 that I decided to watch an episode because of the guest appearances of the very very handsome Michael Ealy as new partner Derek Bond, and Tony-winning and star of my favorite film Dreamgirls, Anika Noni Rose portraying then Assistant State Attorney Wendy Scott-Carr (I say “then” because her story gets so much deeper; so good). These guest stars drew me into The Good Wife, but it then became the main characters and steady yet intriguing story line that made me stay.

 Julianna Margulies. Forgive me once again for catching ER  in its latter days, I am young, so I missed when her character was a household name on the show. But I do not regret it because I feel like I am seeing Julianna Margulies at her very best. We could go by awards: her portrayal of Alicia Florrick as garnered her an Emmy and Golden Globe. Or we could go by the way she yanks at my heart when she emotionally confronts her insecurities, makes me laugh with snarky comments to her kids and mother-in-law or finger snap and literally do the “yes” hand emoji when she fiercely defends her client in the courtroom. Whichever you see fit. Not to mention the supporting cast of players who all always hold their own. Another gift of this show is that the writers have given ample character development for you to understand each character individually and what kind of relationship they have with Alicia. Quite frankly, no relationship has stayed the same. It’s crazy, yet so good. And the guest appearances?! The Good Wife has set a new standard for guest stars. I mentioned I was introduced to the show because of two special guest stars, but it seems that with every guest appearance, it is truly “special”. Gary Cole, Dylan Baker, Kate Burton, Reneé Elise Goldsberry, Carrie Preston, Victor Garber, Ana Gasteyer, and Michael J. Fox … obviously the list can go on [and thankfully, someone already has done it .. 76 Guest Stars of “The Good Wife” Ranked In Order of Excellence]. My theory is that because the show is taped in New York City, writers have oodles of fun to select actors from all spectrums of TV, film and theatre to come out and play with The Good Wife cast. Give it two years, I would not even be shocked if they were to get MERYL herself. (Her daughter Mamie Gummer has made several appearances so she could have some personal sway)

Alongside episodic dramas or knee-jerk pace-what just happened episodes (yes, Scandal: I love you, but I’m talking to you), Good Wife’s technique of unraveling bits of the storyline is one that I have never seen before. Creators Robert & Michelle King have discussed their avoidance of episode recap. Rare does a new episode begin with “Previously on The Good Wife”. But often when a storyline has just reached its climactic point, or is about to, the new episode continues right from where the previous one ended. You say interesting, I say genius. Scene by scene in each episode, you feel the tapping at the larger arc of the season. Sometimes split into two different arcs (there was the unfortunate first arc of Season 4; you have been forewarned), The Good Wife  is able to always intertwine the trial or deposition of a single case while never steering away from the main arc. I think this is what most impresses me about the show. For instance, Good Wife is currently in its fifth season and had the most tumultuous episode in the middle of the season. (For watchers/fans, you know what I am talking about, but for those who don’t I will remain general so you can be just as astounded as I was when first watching it) The episode was so grand that if it were any other show, I would have believed that I had just watched the season finale four episodes after the fall premiere. While the major arc was falling together, there were still instances of day-to-day work and cases throughout the episode. If that does not want to make you watch the episode right now, I have one more pitch: all the upbeat, fast-paced lawyer talk and mannerisms was to a score of … classical music. Yes, oh yes.

Now, I still express that these are my opinions, and solely my opinions. But like I mentioned before, as I watch each episode, my opinion has a substantial amount of evidence from the show. [And now writing this large reasoning, this validates my obsession with the show] Unlike other programs whose character development or storylines get mixed and confused as the seasons grow more, The Good Wife seems to be getting stronger and sharper. It has everything. The plot twists of an intellectual drama, dry humor of a dark comedy, sensational character acting, steamy sex of a soap opera, realistic story lines that make you both cringe and laugh at reality, and a large share of government operatives that make you question the political  machines of the country.  However, don’t expect to see all this in one episode, because if anything, The Good Wife is a patient show — a patient show that constructs details into one episode or an arc of climactic episodes worth the wait. But I believe I made a strong case, and for those who are fans, I hope you found agreement. And for those who have not yet caught an episode, I anticipate this catches your curiosity just enough to tune to CBS on Sunday at 9 pm ET to watch one. I am sure The Good Wife will take care of your decision to watch it again the following Sunday.

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