TV review: The Good Wife

In a scene we’ve seen too many times, Alicia Florrick [Julianne Margulies] stands beside her husband [a stuffy Chris Noth] who is resigning as a Chicago state attorney due to charges of prostitution and mishandling of his office in connection to those charges. She looks rather stunned at his side. They walk down a corridor after leaving the podium and she stops. He comes back to get her and Alicia slaps him. Hard. And then she straightens her suit and walks ahead of him. Six months later, Alicia has returned to work as an attorney at a private law firm. She had only worked for two years before having children and putting her career aside in support of her husband’s more high-profile one for the past fifteen years. The firm assigns her to a pro bono case of a woman accused of killing her ex-husband.

An older female attorney, Diane Lockhart, at her new firm [played with equal parts arrogance and aloofness by Christine Baranski] tells Alicia that women must stick together. She says: “Not only are you coming back to the workplace fairly late but you have some fairly prominent baggage.”

Alicia, obviously, has a lot to prove. People constantly whisper and speculate about her and her relationship with her husband. She has to start over in a highly competitive career, as a junior associate with people 15-20 years younger than her [as she walks into court Alicia says to her investigator Kalinda [a spicy and sharp Archie Panjabi], “The last time I was in court was 13 years ago.” The investigator rolls her eyes and replies: “Wow. I was 12.”] She has to field calls from her teenage daughter who hears rumors that her father slept with underage prostitutes. She has to manage money issues while her husband is in prison. She also has to be true to herself and maintain her self-esteem.

The Good Wife is a television series that holds a lot of promise. The pilot is written by Michelle King and Robert King [who also serve as executive producers]. The series is produced by Valerie Joseph. Juliana Margulies can act her way out of a paper bag. She’s terrific in this layered, complex role. She’s determined, poised, and immensely focused as Alicia Florrick. As the series continues, I’m sure we will understand Alicia’s motives in staying with her husband as well as her drive to work as a defense attorney again, a role that will draw the spotlight on her instead of her husband. The Good Wife will show how older women can and do go back to work after raising a family and can be successful. The Good Wife also looks like it will shine light on sexism and ageism. It is about a woman fighting back. It is about a woman getting back on her own feet. It is about a woman making her own decisions and taking the reins in her own life, after being the supportive one in a relationship that has immensely embarrassed her, disappointed her and devastated her. The Good Wife is more than just a series about a woman scorned. But that will certainly fuel the show.

The Good Wife premieres Tuesday, September 22 at 10p EST on CBS.


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