The Good Wife continues to defy expectations. A structurally rigid courtroom drama made by CBS and now entering its sixth season ought to be looking more than a bit tired and drab around the edges. Instead, The Good Wife hit its creative, dramatic and intellectual peak in season five and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down.
The season launches with the arrest of Cary Agos, who finds himself swiftly charged with drug charges due to legal advice given to his client, Lemond Bishop. This turn of events is an interesting one. For all of the idealistic ambitions of Diane and Will, our lawyers have thus far been living a parasitic existence, taking sustenance and wealth from complicity with the dregs of humanity. Throughout the series, they have always maintained a level of detachment with their professional responsibilities to their clients providing a convenient buffer to prevent anything but entirely superficial moral self-examination. But now the two worlds have collided and it doesn’t take long before Cary and his colleagues are finding themselves vulnerable in unfamiliar murky waters.
As for the good wife of the title, season six starts with Alicia under fire from all sides. Her partner in prison, a start-up law firm to commandeer, clients to coerce and the nagging pressure from Eli Gold (Alan Cummings in Malcolm Tucker-lite mode) to run for political office. Alicia Florrick is a complex and interesting television creation. Florrick batters off her competitors through fair means or foul, represents the worst criminals in Chicago, indulges in an affair with her boss, grudgingly accepts a marriage of pure convenience and yet brandishes her self-proclaimed morality like a weapon. She is referred to as ‘Saint Alicia’, a moniker she publicly rejects and privately relishes. She acts disingenuously in the moment and justifies herself later. She lives in a morally ambivalent world and she is a morally ambivalent character.
Her flaws aren’t gaping or signposted. She is a truly human portrait. This sophisticated and intuitive character drawing is the true strength of The Good Wife and makes it one of the most humane and intelligent dramas on television, as well as one of the most culturally and technological savvy.
With Netflix and HBO redefining the way we watch television, The Good Wife is a dying breed. Watch it while you can, you’ll miss it when it’s gone.
The Good Wife will be broadcast at 9.00pm on Thursday 29th January on More 4.