Law, life and love

telly review

Law, life and love

When I first heard the title of the show — The Good Wife, I was smug enough to assume that it would be a drag, involving a timid, acquiescing woman who becomes a martyr to keep her family happy. I was only partially right, though. Little did I know that it would throw surprise after surprise at me, making me swallow my words.

The Good Wife only bears the title of a righteous woman, when in reality, it does everything that may or may not be considered legit in a real world. Quite an ironical concept for a series where the focus is on law firms, courtrooms and attorneys’ offices. And that irony is what forms the theme of the show. Don’t break the law, just bend it, is what they say.

A State’s Attorney, Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), in Illinois, is caught in a corruption and prostitution scandal, for which he is sent to prison. With his conviction, the rug is pulled from under Alicia’s (Julianna Margulies) feet. She is his lawyer-wife who has stayed at home for 14 years to tend to her husband and children. The only way the sinking family boat can stay afloat is if she goes back to work. Now, there are few who will welcome with open arms an attorney with a sabbatical of over a dozen years. But help does come to those who ask for it. Alicia is employed at Stern, Lockhart & Gardner after a recommendation by her college friend Will Gardner (Josh Charles), a name partner at the firm. Sparks are reignited between Alicia and Will, a turbulent romance which affects a lot of outcomes in their lives, both professional and personal.

The plot deepens after Peter is released from prison and he re-assumes office. Dimensions replete with complexity are added in the form of unreasonably demanding clients, hectic work schedules, winning cases, managing wives and mistresses and raising kids.

The Good Wife has come of age well. The storyline has been developed gradually, giving the viewer time to absorb and assimilate the changes. No sudden moves, no unnecessary surprises. Robert and Michelle King have stuck to their forte, without experimenting too much. Courtroom scenes are pregnant with melodrama and sophistication.

The various characters express a whole gamut of emotions through their exclusive personalities. Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart exudes elan and seems to be a metaphor for poise on the show, just as the show would have been incomplete without the presence of family lawyer David Lee (Zack Grenier), whose words cut through the air like a hot knife through butter. Or Elizabeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston), who lands with a splash of brilliant comic timing and acting prowess, reassuring you that there is still a pool of talent left in showbiz.

Also, how the show has dealt with technology is simply commendable. I was amazed with the maturity and level of precision that prevailed when it came to handling concepts like Bitcoin and virtual presence tablets.

Five seasons have transpired and the series still leaves you wanting for more, with each episode turning into a cliffhanger, leaving behind residues of satisfaction and speculation. Despite digressions and occasional slow moments, human emotions of all characters have been well-etched, with the exception of maybe Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi). The poker-faced investigator is really an enigma, sometimes making one wonder why she does whatever she does.

The Good Wife has set itself apart from other legal dramas by deftly introducing the political element. Law and politics complement each other like fish and water. However, there are a few blank spaces that can be filled equivocally. For instance, what prompts Alicia to fall for Will again? Is it revenge against her husband, a distraction from life, a revival of old romance or the longing for a pillar of support? And why does she keep leaning to the bad side, even after knowing how much it would disrupt her life. Or is this the creators’ way of telling us about the fallacies of human lives?

I’m yet to fathom the underlying philosophy of the show, whether it is loyalty, betrayal, flawed human nature, or the desire to portray that it is perfectly valid to be imperfect. But, in spite of the nebulous substratal element, it makes for a pretty good watch. The Good Wife airs weekdays at 9 pm, on Zee Cafe.

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