Why ‘The Good Wife’ is the best

BY Jen T. Tuazon

The courtroom drama series The Good Wife

The courtroom drama series The Good Wife

I recently saw the latest episode of the legal drama  The Good Wife and a part of me died.

I hate spoilers so I’m not going to ruin anything for anybody by giving anything away. But what I will do is try to convince you to watch this show so you can experience storytelling at its best.

A scene from Season 1 of The Good Wife, starring Julianna Marguiles, with Chris Noth

A scene from Season 1 of The Good Wife, starring Julianna Marguiles with Chris Noth

The Good Wife is now on its fifth season and I know it’s not as buzzworthy as Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. I actually know a lot of people, even “law-loving” ones, who do not know about The Good Wife at all. Which is a shame because it’s a damn good show, whether you’re a fan of legal dramas or not.

Julianna Marguiles as Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife

Julianna Marguiles as Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife

The Good Wife tells the story of a lawyer-turned-housewife whose life is turned upside down after her husband-politician gets involved in a sex scandal. Alicia Florrick, wife to State’s Attorney Peter Florrick, is forced to find her way back into the legal world as her family’s sole breadwinner while her husband is in jail. As expected, no law firm would hire Alicia after not having practiced law for the last 13 years (and for being tied to her husband’s scandal). She was a pariah to all except to one—Will Gardner, her old friend from law school and now a named partner in one of Chicago’s law firms. Will welcomed Alicia, warts and all, to his firm. And so began Alicia’s new life as a lawyer.

Alicia runs into old law school friend Will Gardner (Josh Charles)

Alicia runs into old law school friend Will Gardner (Josh Charles)

It doesn’t seem much like an extraordinary story but somehow master storytellers Robert and Michelle King (with the help of Oscar-winning Gladiator director Ridley Scott as the show’s Executive Producer) have created a not-your-typical courtroom drama series. The end result is a very compelling, moving, powerful show that will hook viewers from episode to episode to episode (and that’s no mean feat considering it has 22-25 episodes per season!)

A scene from Season 5 of The Good Wife

A scene from Season 5 of The Good Wife

The Good Wife is one of those rare TV series which actually gets better every year—and I mean every year. (Even Friday Night Lights, which for me is the best TV series of all time, did not have a spotless record, with its not-so-good second season.) And on its fifth and current season,The Good Wife is at its strongest, showing no signs of going off-air any time soon.

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So why is The Good Wife so good? Here are some of the reasons:

The love triangle

Team Peter VS. Team Will

Team Peter VS. Team Will

It’s Team Peter (the disgraced, philandering husband) vs. Team Will (the friend-from-way-back bachelor-boss) and it’s a testament to how good the show is that you’ll find fans of both teams. You’d think it should be an easy choice for Alicia (Team Will!) but the show succeeds in painting a picture of conflict—you’ll be rooting for Team Will one moment and Team Peter the next. You’ll remain conflicted all the way to the fifth season!

The twists

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The twists are endless. The story is so rich with intrigue, conflict, and suspense and in such a believable way, too. There’s courtroom drama, office politics drama, local politics drama, family drama. Every season finale is a cliff-hanger and the best part is they live up to their own hyped-up expectations every time.

The legal problems

Can you sue the government for using the wrong dose in a lethal injection execution?

Can you sue the government for using the wrong dose in a lethal injection execution?

As someone who grew up in the ’90s, I’m a big fan of The Practice (to this day some of the episodes still give me goosebumps). It was really hard to imagine finding any series to replace The Practice in my law-loving heart. But The Good Wife comes up with great legal problems every episode, novel but relevant problems such as cases involving social network wars, copyright infringement, government surveillance, health insurance, surrogacy, the death penalty, terrorism, election fraud, internal political party strife, judicial corruption, and on and on and on. They cover a wide range of cases—civil, criminal, even political—which makes the show not only entertaining but also educational.

The guest stars

Recurring guest stars Martha Plimpton and Michael J. Fox

Recurring guest stars Martha Plimpton and Michael J. Fox

Some of the more known guests include Michael J. Fox, Nathan Lane, Rita Wilson, Stockard Channing, America Ferrera, and Matthew Perry.

Guest stars Mammie Gummer and Anna Camp with Julianna Margulies

Guest stars Mammie Gummer and Anna Camp with Julianna Margulies

The following guests are also remarkable: Carrie Preston (as “creative” lawyer Elsbeth Tascioni, which won her an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress), Mammie Gummer (aka Merryl Streep‘s daughter!), Anna Camp (from Pitch Perfect!), Dallas Roberts (who was also on The Walking Dead), Scott Porter (aka Jason Street from Friday Night Lights), Parker Posey, Amanda Peet, Gary Cole, Martha Plimpton, Maura Tierney, and even real-life Democratic Party Vice-Chair Donna Brazile as herself!

The cast

The stellar cast of The Good Wife

The stellar cast of The Good Wife

You won’t be surprised why two of the show’s cast have won Emmy’s, and the rest consistently nominated, for their acting on the show. It’s hard to say who’s the best because they’re all so good. The lawyers, the non-lawyers, even those with minimal roles who show up sporadically all give great performances:

TGW Alicia 03Julianna Margulies (aka Nurse Carol from E.R.) as “good wife” Alicia Florrick (which has won her an Emmy and a Golden Globe)

TGW Peter 04
Chris Noth
(aka Mr. Big from Sex and the City) as Alicia’s husband, the never-say-die Peter Florrick

TGW Will 04
Josh Charles (he was one of the students in Dead Poets Society!) as big-hearted lawyer Will Gardner

TGW Kalinda
Archie Panjabi
as the scene-stealing investigator Kalinda Sharma (also an Emmy winner)

TGW Cary 02
Matt Czuchry
(aka Logan Huntzberger from The Gilmore Girls!) as young lawyer Cary Agos

TGW DianeChristine Baranski as Will’s partner, the forever classy Diane Lockhart

TGW Eli 02
And last but definitely not least, the fan favorite Alan Cumming as the colorful character Eli Gold.

The direction

The Good Wife, now on its fifth season

The Good Wife, now on its fifth season

I have seen so many TV shows and I can safely say The Good Wife is way, way up there as far as masterful, excellent production goes. It is just impeccable. Everything is perfect: the transitions from scene to scene, the dialogue, the music, the silence, the facial reactions, the camera angles, even the fashion. You know the creators of the show are not kidding around. It’s definitely not a show-just-for-the-sake-of-having-a-show kind of show. It’s brilliant, it’s bold, it’s brave—it’s simply the best drama on TV right now.

 

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