I like The Good Wife. There, I said it. I know. I just gave up “man points” for admitting that I enjoy watching the CBS Sunday night drama starring Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick, the wife of a Chicago politician who was involved in a sexual scandal reminiscent of the all-too-familiar real-life political scandals of recent years.
With only two episodes left this season, I can take solace in knowing that I have 16 episodes of Season 2 still to watch. I’ve already breezed through the first season’s episodes on the DVD’s that I bought last month (that was another deduction of “man points” when I let that slip at the office). I don’t know why it took me so long to start watching The Good Wife. Well, that’s not entirely true. I do know why I avoided this well-written, well-produced, and well-acted show — it was a “woman’s” show. Or, so I thought.
Oh, I was aware of The Good Wife from talking to some of the ladies in my office who love the show. For the first two years that The Good Wife has been on the air, I was dismissive of any attempts from my female co-workers who tried to get me to watch this legal/political drama. Notwithstanding my newfound appreciation for the show, my student pastor, who will dock me major “man points” for writing this post, continues to argue that The Good Wife is not a show that any self-respecting man should talk about, much less watch.
I would have to respectfully disagree. Having discovered The Good Wife last September, on a trip to Albuquerque for an Executive Board Meeting of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, it is only fitting that I write my first post on the show while in New Mexico’s largest city for another Board Meeting. Having just finished watching Sunday night’s episode, I can honestly say that The Good Wife is probably my favorite scripted television show currently airing.
Truth be told, I’ve always been addicted to good legal dramas. From L.A. Law (1986-94) to The Practice (1997-2004) and its spinoff, Boston Legal (2004-08), I have been offered a steady diet of television shows about lawyers. Even though I don’t practice law anymore, I have been able to live vicariously through these various programs. When the increasingly eccentric (and annoying) Boston Legal concluded its run four years ago, I was left without my law show fix. That is, until I finally succumbed to temptation and secretly watched my first episode of The Good Wife seven months ago.
Why am I hooked? There are many reasons, but it all starts with the writing. If a show is not well-written, then it doesn’t matter whether the subject matter is one that would interest me or whether or not the actors on the show are likeable (more on that in a subsequent post). It all begins and ends with the writing. For a legal drama, I have been pleasantly surprised that the episodes of The Good Wife in all three seasons have not been the typical left-wing pabulum that has become the norm with most legal procedurals (including the rabidly leftist Law and Order franchise).
While the plots of L.A. Law and The Practice/Boston Legal became all-too-predictable — the government (in the Bush years) was evil, corporations were the source of all that is wrong in the world, all murder defendants were somehow misunderstood saints who were wrongly accused by a corrupt police force in collusion with the State’s Attorney, and the protagonist criminal defense attorneys always won their cases — The Good Wife’s storylines are never predictable.
In A New Day, the first episode of Season Three (originally aired September 25, 2011) “a Palestinian college student is accused of killing a Jew.” As I began watching, I just knew how this would play out. The Palestinian student would be found innocent (he was, but not for the reason why I thought). It would turn out that a right-wing nutjob (probably a “Christian”) had killed the Jewish student after viciously carving what would turn out to be a backwards swastika on the dead man’s body. That’s how Boston Legal would have been written. The writers of that show would have also tried to implicate the Bush/Cheney Administration or Big Oil for the dastardly deed.
What the storyline actually revealed was another Muslim, the roommate of the defendant, was guilty of the crime. But, in a twist that left me shaking my head in disbelief — which in this case was good — the Muslim roommate killed the Jewish student, not because of any religious hatred, but because the two were homosexual lovers who had gotten into an argument. A Homosexual Muslim shown to be the killer. How’s that for cleaver (and original) writing? And, how did that slip past the politically correct tolerance police at CBS?
While there are clearly liberal elements within the scripts (this is set in the Democrat-controlled world of Chicago politics), I have not noticed the “moral preaching” that sometimes characterized the other legal dramas. In fact, there appears to be more of a moral clarity in the midst of some delicate issues. In several episodes that I have watched from the first three seasons, the military seems to be treated in a fair and respectful way. That’s saying a lot for a Hollywood produced show.
Because of great writing, a stellar cast, superb production values, and my addiction for legal dramas, I have become an enthusiastic fan of The Good Wife. Better late than never. It took me seven months to publicly admit what I knew after watching my first episode in Albuquerque last September. Just by writing this post, I have opened myself up for ridicule and mocking. I am willingly subjecting myself to a loss of more “man points.” Is The Good Wife worth all that? You’re reading this post, aren’t you? I think that answers the question. Case closed!