My Soul Belongs to THE GOOD WIFE

I’m supposed to have been writing articles for the launch of Geek Guy Buys all week—and I have been, honestly, in fits and starts. I’ve scribbled down my thoughts on HBO’s Betty (“skater teen dramedy masterpiece”), character actor Bill Camp’s best performances (“Dark Waters > The Night Of > Wildlife…”), and Elijah Wood (“the best producer in horror”). But, despite all that, I don’t have anything publishable. I have the foundations for things that will eventually be publishable, but that’s all still days (and revisions) away.

And it’s all because of The Good Wife.

What’s The Good Wife?

If you haven’t heard of the show, that’s okay—I never paid much attention to it either during its acclaimed seven season run between 2009 and 2016. It was nominated for 43 Emmys (winning five) and 14 Golden Globes (winning one) and inspired an ongoing spin-off, The Good Fight, which airs on the CBS All Access streaming app.

The show’s seasons are 22-23 episodes long; I binged the first season in two days and have already made substantial progress into Season 2. It follows lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), who returns to work after her husband (Chris Noth), the former Cook County State’s Attorney, is arrested for corruption (and outed for having an affair).

The firm Alicia goes to work for is headed by a former law school classmate, Will Gardner (Josh Charles), with whom Alicia has some of the most knuckle-whitening will-they-won’t-they sexual tension ever seen on network television. She’s in competition with another young lawyer at the firm, Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry), aided by the firm’s investigator, Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi, in the show’s best performance), and has to answer to Will’s partner at the firm, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski). Graham Phillips and Mackenzie Vega round out the principle cast as Alicia’s children, Zach and Grace.

What’s So Good About The Good Wife?

The Good Wife has the standard “case of the week” setup that Law & Order and other network legal dramas have favored over the years, but it balances this approach with a compelling serial narrative. Even as an episode’s central trial is winding down, pieces are being shuffled around to progress the overarching story in a way that network television has not always been comfortable doing.

The approach gives The Good Wife a “best of both worlds” quality; episodes are blessedly short (the Golden Age of Television’s greatest crime has been its assault on 45-minute episodes), walk you through a compelling A-plot legal case, and also managing to advance the series narrative, sometimes through the A-plot and sometimes through B-plot machinations.

The Good Wife also isn’t afraid to dabble in gray areas. On more than one occasion our “heroes” are forced to break the rules, represent clients who are maybe probably actually guilty, or just make questionable decisions in their personal lives. They’re flawed, dimensional human beings. Whereas network TV shows often reset the stakes after each episode (shows need to go on indefinitely, so characters can’t change too much or it disrupts the flow of the series) and focus instead on a “Big Bad” for the cast to take on each season, The Good Wife is in a constant state of flux—in a good way. There are obstacles and arcs in each season, but not at the expense of character growth or the series narrative.

Character actors made the series their bread and butter during its run and regularly appear as either judges (Denis O’Hare, the god), opposing counsel (Michael J. Fox, Marty McFly himself, swoops in for a few episodes), or the person on trial (Atlanta’s Brian Tyree Henry and many, many more). Half the fun of each episode is recognizing which one-off characters also ended up with their own arc on The Walking Dead.

What Are You Waiting For? Go Binge Now!

Seriously, The Good Wife has it all: sex, drama, and a cleansing rain of legal objections that’ll leave you feeling like yes, you can represent yourself at your next indictment. So, where can you go to watch it?

Unfortunately, the show is dropping off Hulu today, but it’s still available to watch for free on Amazon Prime and the CBS All Access streaming app. You can also buy the complete series on DVD from Amazon for ~$60, a steal for the top-tier content you’ll be getting your hands on, not to mention the fact that Julianna Margulies’ face adorns the side of the box—and you’ll be able to admire it every time you pass your DVD collection. That’s a win-win.

So, cancel your plans, abandon your friends, and surrender your soul to The Good Wife today. At some point, I’ll be publishing more qualified content for Geek Guy Buys, but I think I’ll try to squeeze in one… more… season first.

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