As usual, I was late to The Good Wife bandwagon. Despite recommendations from trusted TV critics, both personal and professional, that I should give this show a try, I mostly just ignored them. Then, sometime over this summer, I randomly put it on via Amazon Prime as something to have on while I did other things - laundry, budgeting. Something that I didn't really pay attention to.
Then, in August, my Good Wife switch flipped and I became obsessed. It was around the end of season one, when Lockhart and Gardner pick Alicia over Carey. I started paying more attention, putting aside the laundry or the spreadsheet to focus on the drama. In the past few weeks, I've powered through the remaining six seasons. Season six and seven I went through at a sprint, desperate to get through the series so I could return to caring about other things, like the election or my own personal well-being. But it's done! I made it through the entire season. Honestly, since I can't find a legal way to watch The West Wing or Friends in Germany, The Good Wife is probably going to be my new back up, the thing I turn on when I need some random noise or something to fall asleep to. And that's fine! I've seen every episode, I can relax now.
I very much enjoyed the show. I'm looking forward to the spin-off. But first, before I get into what worked, let's take a moment on what didn't. And even before that, my consumption of the show was not perfect and may have contributed to my negatives. First, I binged seven years of show in just a couple of months. Binging shows that weren't meant to be binged is tough. Story lines that were intended to be spread out over months are instead gone in a weekend. Maybe the terrible husband/Kalinda thing would have been better if it had been an hour a week instead of a couple of hours a day. Also, Amazon Prime let me download the show to my tablet to watch offline, so I really watched this show everywhere - on trains across Europe, my hostel in Berlin, my hotel room in Dublin while I waited for my family to arrive. What I'm saying is, I wasn't necessarily in my quiet apartment with a glass of wine the whole time.
Now, for the bad, then the good:
Season seven is not great. So much didn't work: Alicia as bond lawyer was not interesting. In general, Alicia's 'on her own' story line was a letdown. She didn't interact with much of the main cast (maybe that's because of those rumors that everyone hates the actress? I hope not). The splintering of the show didn't stop there. Eli and Peter's political drama came and went, prevalent in one episode to not appear at all in the next. Lockhart/Agos seemed like a separate show. The whole thing was disjointed and far from the shine of earlier seasons. Kalinda's absence left a hole in the show that Jeffrey Dean Morgan couldn't begin to fill. Also, what happened to Robyn? She wasn't Kalinda but she was a nice, spunky addition.
Aside from season seven, there were a few other things very much did not work for me that I still can't get over, even though we're at the end of the show. Kalinda's husband. I'm just going to pretend he didn't exist. Aside from that idiot, the show seemed desperate to pair her with some guy - the dude from Friday Night Lights, the Scottish (or was it Irish?) lawyer. Stop trying to create douchebags to compete with her, just let her be her own badass self. I was also disappointed in Kalinda's exit. Whatever the outside personal drama was, it seemed insincere and rushed. At least they didn't kill her. RIP Will, that was wholly unnecessary.
One more thing that bugged me the entire series: do law firms really do that? Disband and reform that frequently? I would understand if it happened once or twice, but the show returned to this well so often I got whiplash. I wish we could have spent more time with Florrick/Agos, with their trendy bare-brick offices, their sparse client roster, and unending feud with Lockhart/Gardner. It was a fun, interesting dynamic but it was gone all too quickly. The story wrapped up with a little bow - one episode they're bringing in Diane, one or two later they're back in their old offices. Come on! As a client, I would be jumping ship to find something more stable. This may not have been as noticeable for the regular viewer versus the binger, but still, it was confusing and unrealistic. I couldn't keep track of who was feuding with whom.
That's enough of the bitching and moaning. Because I really, really enjoyed this show. Here are my favorite pieces and why it's going to be on repeat for me for awhile.
The characters. From the main cast to the recurring guest stars, this show has an incredible roster. There were ones I was always happy to see on my screen - Geneva (Angelica!), Elsbeth, Canning, and Patti. Even America Ferrara's brief stint was enjoyable. These were all smart, capable, and unique lawyers who brought a spark to the show. As a regular cast member, it might have been too much (looking at you, Elsbeth), but just dropping by a few times a season was perfect. As for the main cast, brilliant. Diane Lockhart is my spirit animal. Cary Agos grew on me after that first season, especially watching him on the other side in season 2 and then seeing him take charge, getting his name on the door, in later seasons. David Lee was entertaining. Kalinda was brilliant and worthy of the fame around her before I even started watching the show. I liked Will, though didn't get why all these women were lining up to sleep with him. Peter was exactly what he needed to be, though some of his political shenanigans were eye-rolling towards the end. Eli was excellent, but sometimes felt shoe-horned in to the rest of the series. And then there's Alicia, who we will talk more about later.
The cases. First, every show should create their own version of Google (though maybe not name it chumhum) and reddit. It makes internetting so much easier! That aside, some of the cases were very obvious to their real life counterpart but it never took me out of the show. The cases were always interesting and smart. And watching brilliant lawyers argue at each other, virtually yelling, and then going out for drinks afterwards, that's honestly been a huge source of inspiration as I struggle with maintaining the line between personal/work out here in the real world.
The politics. Here's the thing: politics don't stop when you put aside Politico or leave DC for private practice. Politics are everywhere. They're at work and at home and among friends. And this show demonstrated this so well, with the constant (and honestly too frequent) reorganizing of firms and the never-ending dance between Peter and Alicia.
Alicia. Finally, the evolution of Alicia. In an interview after the series ended, the creators said the overall purpose of the show was the evolution of Alicia, bringing her from the person who slaps to the one who gets slapped. Turning Saint Alicia into Peter, basically. Some of this rings true. Season one Alicia would never have stolen clients from Will and created her own firm. Season two Alicia would never have run for States' Attorney. There is some character growth here as she deals with her husband's infidelity and her changing role in her own home. I just wish the writers didn't need to beat us over the head with it. Season 7, in particular, stands out: in a mid-season episode, she actually refers to the 'old me' and the 'new me.' Show, don't tell. It sucks to see a once-admired character willingly vote with Landau for no discernible reason. Also, come on, the voting commission would include the woman who supposedly stole votes?
Overall, I enjoyed the show. But it went on a season too long. I'm going to treat it like Supernatural, a show I insist ended in season five. For The Good Wife, it's the exit of Kalinda.