Arts

Binging: The Good Wife

So, you’ve finished The Wire, Breaking Bad and The Killing but you’re still hungry for more boxsets. Fear not, Standard Issue writers are on the case with some hidden gems you might not yet have seen. This week, Christine Robertson puts the case for The Good Wife.

Cast of The Good WifeA good wife? God, she sounds dull. She works at a law firm? Yawn. And stands by her man when he cheats on her? Ugh, NEXT. For a show that goes out of its way to put me off on paper, The Good Wife sure has hauled me in on screen.

This is not uncommon for the show’s growing audience. When I meet anyone who watches it, the first thing we say after clapping like seals is, “It’s really good, right?!” – the subtext being “… for a show called The Good Wife.” So my first instruction to you would be: SEE PAST THE TITLE.

The one-line pitch: After 13 years raising her two kids, Alicia Florrick has to return to work as a lawyer after her disgraced politician husband is jailed. Now that might not sound like enough to form the basis of your next boxset binge but allow me to look you squarely in the eyes and assure you that there is often more tension, drama and excitement in just one episode of The Good Wife than some TV dramas manage in an entire series.

Full disclosure: the urge to binge didn’t kick in properly until series two – but when it did, it was the most dedicated I’ve ever been to a full-time job.

“I binged so hard I woke up screaming OBJECTION! from a drool-soaked pillow when my husband tried to switch an episode off at 3am.”

I binged so hard I started power dressing to take the recycling out. I binged so hard I asked three different friends to call me at the same time with fake emergencies so that I could feel a sense of urgency while I popped to Tesco. I binged so hard I woke up screaming OBJECTION! from a drool-soaked pillow when my husband tried to switch an episode off at 3am. I binged so hard I’ve now caught up to the current series (six) on More4 and have to WAIT for an episode to go out ONCE A WEEK like it’s the FREAKIN’ NINETIES.

Julianna Margulies leads a cracking ensemble cast, including Chris Noth, Christine Baranski, Josh Charles and – flying the Brits Abroad flag – Archie Panjabi, Alan Cumming and, more recently, Matthew Goode. Over in the show’s superlative stunt casting department are the likes of Michael J Fox, Martha Plimpton, Kyle MacLachlan and Rita Wilson, in guest roles that make you clap like a seal again when they appear.

While the show functions in its own bubble, like any other TV drama, its writers are plugged into rolling news, often exploring topical issues such as online security, college campus rape and police brutality. It’s not afraid to go meta either – a recent ep saw a fictional TV drama that tears stories from the headlines for ratings stand accused in the dock.

Don’t get too comfy on that sofa, though. The Good Wife will pull the cushions from under you occasionally. It likes to play around with storytelling; it likes to shake things up; it likes to take risks – and while some of those risks might not always pay off, it has the confidence and ambition to try. So my second instruction to you would be: DO NOT GOOGLE THIS SHOW. I’ve had major spoilers reveal themselves when doing a harmless search for a statement brooch Christine Baranski wore in one episode.

Still unconvinced? Well, for my closing argument, your honour, The Good Wife is co-produced by Scott Free Productions: Ridley and Tony (RIP) Scott’s company. So if the show is good enough for the guys who brought Alien, Blade Runner, True Romance and Beverly Hills Cop II to the screen, the least you can do is give it a day in court.

@xtine_robbo

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Written by Christine Robertson

Christine is an award-winning comedy writer who thinks Winona Ryder picked the wrong guy in Reality Bites.