Wednesday, August 29, 2012

TV: The Good Wife Season 1

The Good Wife is one of those shows I've always felt like I should be watching. I actually did start out watching the first season it was on, (it's one of the few times I got a screener for pilots! It happened to be on the same DVD as another pilot based on a book I was sent for review) but for some reason I ended up dumping it. My guess is that at the time I was much more focused on work and blogging and was blogging while watching which is not a good way to watch TV let's face it.

I realized, though, when I started watching it this time around that I had watched for much longer than I originally thought, I remembered quite a bit from the early season. Anyway, this show is often cited as an example of great female characters and while it was excluded from Emmy nominations this year in the overall Best Drama category, it's the one network show that has been recognized in recent times. That doesn't mean, of course, that I will like the show, there are plenty of award winning shows I don't care for, but I wanted to give it another chance.

I really enjoyed it this time around. I don't know there's something to be said for watching a show in quick succession, it is both better and worse. It's better because you don't forget the details from episode to episode, you can see the way it's all sewn together much better, if something potentially exciting happens you don't wait and wait and wait only to be disappointed by the direction the story line takes. It's worse because you devour it quickly and it's over, it's easier to forget the show as a whole, and when you don't have the week in between to really think through each episode (if you're so inclined) you end up missing some of the subtleties of the story. At least I do. I think with The Good Wife it was particularly interesting because I was surprised by how I felt some stuff got dropped or rushed unexpectedly, especially with regards to the Will/Alicia relationship.

I have only watched Season 1 and through 2x03 as of writing this so please do not spoil! (also sorry Lu, I totally blazed through this much more quickly than I was expecting!)

The concept of this show was to follow what becomes of a politician's wife once the scandal is over. The sex scandal that is, you know once the dust settles, what happens to her? In this show, he's not just any elected official, but the State's Attorney. This was a smart move, because Alicia is a lawyer, too, and it creates interesting conflict/opportunities for her in her job. Also, there is an ongoing investigation into his corruption and I still feel like I have no idea what happened. (am I supposed to?)

So anyway she's back to work, but lo and behold her boss is an old flame! Or something. (another thing I was never entirely clear on) This is television, that's what makes it juicy, you know? So there's all this unresolved sexual tension with the guy who is her boss and also all these complicated feelings about her husband's situation, plus a rivalry with a younger ambitious male attorney for one job that they are basically fighting over, and you have some great drama.

I like almost all of the characters on the show, and I find Alicia's conflict interesting. Her husband is pretty gross in my opinion, and I think a lot of women would have no problem leaving. But Alicia's situation is kind of different because of how much they are in the public eye and also because of her kids. And...I don't know I think being married creates a safety net for her from having to deal with the feelings (?) she has for her boss which would complicate everything in her life so much more. I think there's a lot to Alicia's journey, though, it's about more than just...coming into her own apart from her husband but also grappling with the realities of the law. It almost seems like she would be better suited in a position similar to her husband's...going after the bad guys than defending people she sometimes finds questionable...but she does grow and does do things that might be considered morally grey...I guess what I mean to say is she learns how to manipulate the legal system to her advantage and be okay with that. It's interesting to watch, because it's one of those things I always have a hard time with myself, the conflict between what feels like the right to do based on cultural conditioning and then knowing what actually might okay or the right thing to do in any given situation. (in theological terms, the difference between actual sin and societal sin)

Also, like for example by the end of the season, she has to "use her connections" to ensure she gets her job. And it's something she is loathe to do, but her desperation outweighs her reservations, and she does it. She gets the job, but Carey, her rival for the position, is understandably bitter and ends up getting a job with the State's Attorney for the very reason she managed to save hers...because of his connection to her. (I've watched through 2x03 there is a deleted scene where Carey actually says to her, the Florrick name cuts both ways and yes that's exactly it! That's what makes her situation so incredibly interesting. I suspect the scene may have been cut because it was a bit unsubtle, but I appreciate having a way to explain what I mean)

Oh and Kalinda is the kind of person it would drive me slightly crazy to have as a friend, because of how intensely private and reserved she is, but I love her as a character, she's interesting and mysterious with a strong drive of self-preservation but not lacking in loyalty. She's fantastic, tbh. (btw I didn't watch all the deleted scenes, but I watched one where she was stung by a bee and had an allergic reaction. It was a really super contrived set-up only meant to give her a vulnerability and super cheesy so I'm glad they cut it!)

Courtroom drama is still one of my favorite things which makes the proceduralish nature of The Good Wife bearable. Also, I never really felt like the cases fell into the humdrum which was good. I did hate the one episode where the defendant took a plea bargain and the jury found her not guilty. I knew that was going to happen and I hated every second leading up to it....(plus I'd be pissed as a member of the jury, too!)

Oh and I also enjoy that the setting for the show is Chicago, but I wish they really filmed there and not in New York!

One area I do feel like the show doesn't pay enough attention to is Alicia's children. Looking at the situation, they almost seem too good to be true. They don't seem to really act out at all, or resent the upheaval of their own lives enough. I mean they had to move which they pout about a little, but mostly deal with well, their mother has become a workaholic, their father is in prison after embarrassing their mother in a very public way...I don't know they seem oddly sheltered and naive. But maybe that other stuff is coming. (see what I want to do right here is talk about workaholism and women in difficult situations and BORGEN but I don't know enough yet, sigh)

Having watched through 2x03, Eli Gould is the best with the comic relief, omg. And I like the character of Jackie even though she annoys me, I think she's really well drawn and realistic.

Finally, I thought the season finale missed the mark slightly because I didn't think Alicia was really at a point to be choosing between two men and it seemed like a forced way to keep interest for the next season. But I did like that she told Will she needed a plan and more than just the romance. (I've watched 2x01 and it resolved exactly how I thought it would, but I do have to say that so far Will is true to his word, which I admire, even though she never heard it!) those are my thoughts! Do any of you guys watch this show?


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