Contemplating a legal career, I thought it was about time I set to work watching every single US legal drama on television. Don’t worry, I’m not under the impression that any of these shows are realistic in the slightest but legal dramas do tend to make for pretty juicy watching. I’ve already sped through Suits (review of season 1 and season 2)and How To Get Away With Murder so I thought I’d turn to something with more of a ‘serious’ air – CBS’ The Good Wife.
The Good Wife follows the story of Alicia Florrick, wife of the Cook County Illinois State Attorney, Peter Florrick (Chris Noth). Following her husband’s notorious political corruption and sex scandal, which lands Peter in prison, Alicia must work hard to rebuild a life for her and her two teenage children. An old friend, Will Gardner, hires her as a junior associate at his firm, Lockhart and Gardner, where Alicia has 6 months to compete with the younger junior associate, Cary Agos (Matt Czhuchry), for a permanent position.
Each episode follows the same sort of framework: a new case with some sort of home drama on the side. There are some story arcs which run throughout the entire season but each new episode brings fresh drama with it and you’re never sure what you’re going to get next. The legal cases that Alicia works on are hugely varied, which is partly what makes the show so interesting. From divorce to life insurance to murder, all these cases test the moral compasses of the characters involved and there’s always a twist half-way through to throw everything you thought you knew out the window.
The protagonist, Alicia Florrick, played by Julianna Margulies, is the character who really makes the show great. For anyone thinks that Mrs Florrick is, as the title would suggest, merely a ‘good wife’, you could not be further from the truth. Instead of choosing to play the victim after her husband’s scandal, she throws herself in the deep end, reigniting her legal career. This is no mean feat for someone who’s been out of this cut-throat business for over ten years, but she manages to hold her ground.
What I love about this show is that you see so many different sides to Alicia Florrick: the junior associate, the wife, the mother, the lover, the friend. The meek woman you see at her corrupt husband’s side in the first few minutes is not the same woman you see twenty three episodes later. Alicia shows that you can be a lawyer with a heart, but she is by no means soft. Margulies plays this thoroughly intricate character to perfection and I’m intrigued to see how her character will continue to develop in the subsequent seasons.
Although Alicia Florrick is undoubtedly the star of the show, the supporting cast are also an integral part of the series’ success. There are partners Diane and Will; Cary the rival; Kalinda, the side-kick; Zach and Grace, the kids and Peter, the husband, just to name a few. This is by no means a one-woman show. Somehow the writers have managed to weave a story centring on Alicia’s professional and personal life whilst also ensuring that viewer’s understand what makes each and every supporting character tick as well.
My only (small) complaint about this show is that the last episode didn’t end on enough of a bang and I must admit, I was a little disappointed. After such a punchy first season, I thought that it could’ve ended with a bit more pazazz. Instead, it ended with some romantic drama but the show is so much more than this. As I said above, this drama tests each player’s strength of character and moral compass, so to end on romantic tension seemed to reduce the show to another namby-pamby US drama, something that it isn’t.
I’m not sure my review has really done this show justice, but to sum up, The Good Wife provides viewers with a multilayered legal drama dealing with exciting cases and family drama. As I said before, I am under no impression that The Good Wife is what the life of a lawyer is really like, but as television dramas go, this one has to be one of the most realistic out there. The Good Wife is far ahead of Suits and How To Get Away With Murder in that respect, the both of which get progressively more ridiculous with each passing season. Nominated for a whopping eight Primetime Emmy Awards, The Good Wife is off to an outstanding start and I cannot wait to get stuck into the next six seasons!
Currently available on Netflix.
Have you seen The Good Wife? What did you think?
Do you have any other legal dramas to recommend?