Monday, October 8, 2012

TV: The Good Wife Season 3 (and beginning of Season 4)

I really liked the first season of The Good Wife and I continued to like, though not quite as much, the second season. This season had huge problems for me, though. I think some of the vague things that bothered me in the first and second season crystallized for me in this season. It was like the flaws made themselves abundantly clear in a way I couldn't ignore. That isn't to say I didn't still enjoy aspects of it. I really love Diane, for example, and continued to love Diane and Will. Also I think some of my issues are my issues...a difference between what I would like to see and what the show is interested in doing. But it is a good show in that I'm still interested in talking about it even though it failed for me in some regards, the fact that I want to pick at it and talk about it is part of what makes it worth watching.

I'm not very well educated in feminism but I find the feminist ideas in The Good Wife interesting. Like for example, I really loved how Diane took it upon herself to reach out to Alicia after she ended her relationship with Will. There were about a billion different ways that could have gone, but having Diane acknowledge there would be a void in Alicia's life--both professionally and personally, and wanting to help fill that by mentoring her was pretty fantastic. There was no resentment on her part (and part of why I love Diane. She's professional, strong-willed and determined, but also loyal and kind) But then on the other hand, the firm had this sexual harassment training that was kind of mocked on the show. Obviously it was written in to be this funny awkward moment for Alicia and Will, since she was sleeping with the boss but it just rubbed me the wrong way that it was treated so ridiculously. Sexual harassment in the work place is a real thing and there actually was a problem with Will and Alicia sleeping together? Which is part of what made it such an interesting story. On top of that you have Alicia achieving so much of her professional success because of Peter, she gets the big corner office because Eli wants her as liaison or whatever. Obviously none of this would be possible if she wasn't a great lawyer, but I don't know. AND THEN there was that story with Caitlin deciding she wanted to stay home and be a mom instead of work, which I quite liked! I don't know I think there's a lot to discuss and I'd welcome pointers to anything that has been written on the subject of feminism in The Good Wife

So speaking of Will and Alicia, the season felt kind of anti-climatic. Like if the end of season two was about busting everything open for the possibility of change, season 3 was about realizing maybe it shouldn't have been. While I found Alicia not being in love with Will but just kind of..using him as a way to move on/assert her independence, a logical and interesting choice, it was also just kind of like...oh. I mean for two seasons it felt like something was building there but in the end, no? The entire second half of the season dragged on with the boring subplot of her trying to buy her old life house back. And getting Cary back to Lockhart Gardner. I mean, basically I felt like the second half of the third season about returning things to the status quo.

Okay and I haven't liked the portrayal of the Florrick children on the show and I finally figured out why. It's not just that they seem surprisingly sheltered and naive, but it's that they don't feel like real characters in their own right. They exist solely to create conflict for Alicia in how she's balancing her life and reveal aspects of her character. know is fine, this isn't really a family drama, it's a workplace one. It's not unlike Borgen in that regard. But I can't help but think there has to be a way to make it less grating and obvious, and I think part of it is that we're never allowed to call into question if Alicia is a good mother or not. We are to assume she is a good mother who makes the right choices for her children. There are brief mentions of whether or not she's working too much, but the answer is always, "no, she's not." She seems like a workaholic without actually being one--it has no effect on her kids. There was some stuff with Grace this season, she started hanging out with this weird tutor and making odd videos. And there was this implication that Grace had no friends...and then that didn't go anywhere. Grace runs away to get baptized in this short resurgence of her interest in religion storyline but that story was mostly about Kalinda and Alicia and Alicia needing an impetus to break things off with Will. So you sort of have this suggestion of true troubles that Grace has but they only surface at key moments for Alicia and have nothing to do with Grace, really. Maybe the show will have one of the kids rebel big time in the fourth season? I'd love that. (ugh I can't help but compare it to Borgen where you ARE allowed to question if Birgitte is doing the right thing for her children and still not manage to question if she loves them or is a good person. The stuff with Birgitte and Laura in season 2 is just so freaking good that everything else will pale in comparison I guess.)

Which brings me to Jackie. I liked how in the second season, I could feel Jackie's pain. Sure she was a bit of a witch, but I felt like the show created enough space for me to understand her story and where she was coming from. But that subtlety was all gone this season and she just became an outright manipulative enemy of Alicia. It was frustrating to me! And I actually dislike Alicia in her interactions with Jackie even if they are justified. Oh well. I also hated Eli Gold through pretty much the whole season. I'm not exactly sure how I went from liking him so much to finding him annoying, but oh well.

And that leads me to Kalinda. This makes me so sad, because I really like Kalinda and I like the kind of character she is or should be allowed to be. But I think the show is kind of obsessed with...her sexuality in a way that is detrimental to her overall storyline. Sure Kalinda is supposed to be a very sexy woman but she uses that as a guard. I mean come on. And they had this long drawn out story with Cary and Dana and Kalinda which was...I'm not exactly sure what the end aim was. I think part of it was just about how Dana got caught up in the ~allure of Kalinda and made a series of poor decisions (for herself professionally) and I guess it also reinforced the degree to which Kalinda uses her sexuality to achieve her goals, like she couldn't even relate to Dana as another professional. Anyway there was this moment at the end of the season when Kalinda and Alicia are finally out drinking again and Kalinda answers Alicia's question from two years ago about whether or not she's gay. And that moment it's just so...good, I mean my heart. It's worth all of her forced sexual tension scenes and more. In fact everything about Kalinda trying to reclaim that friendship was more subtle and good and heartrending. Basically I'd like to see a lot more of guarded Kalinda and her genuine affections and her attempts to build meaningful friendships not based on sex than Kalinda using her sexual power over other people to get what she wants. And the fourth season has only just started but is making me sadder about this. Tough Kalinda's biggest vulnerability is a stupid man and he's not even good looking, ugh. (not that it would be okay if he was good looking it would just be a tiny bit more tolerable to me as a viewer) I'm kind of really tired of this story line and while it speaks well that Kalinda once knew he was so bad for her she changed her whole life, I just wish better for her.

But Diane is flawless! I love how she wanted to open up firm space for Legal Aid and how she went to bat for Will (oh yeah his grand jury thing had a very unrealistic ending for me) and took Alicia under her wing and is just ALL AROUND AWESOME.

Anyway, I do like the rest of season 4 so far, for example, I thought it was kind of refreshing how Alicia had a pride issue in the latest episode (assuming the firing decisions were based on her input, thinking Maddie was asking her out, etc) I really liked the case of the week with the unpredictability of the jury asking questions, etc. I guess I'm interested in watching Peter's campaign. Nathan Lane is very good, but the OMG THE FIRM IS BANKRUPT story line is VERY TIRED.

Anyway, if you watch let me know how wrong I am! Or whatever. :)


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