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21 October 2010 @ 09:07 pm
The Good Wife  
I should listen to awesome people when they tell me to watch things. Many, many people with good taste told me to watch the Good Wife, and I scorned it for a long time. A show about a wife that stands by her corrupt, cheating political candidate husband? Bleugh. None of the advertising for the show that I had seen touched on the fact that most of the show is about Alicia Florick's career. Actually it's mostly a procedural--again, not really a drawcard for me, but I have to say it's probably the most compelling procedural I've ever bothered to watch. The big hook for me was the strength of the female characters.

I was fairly slow to warm up to the show but by two thirds through the first season I was finding it very compelling and couldn't wait to watch more. Alicia is surprisingly sympathetic, though at first I did not really like her. I was wary of someone who came from such an obviously privileged and sheltered background and who initially acted very entitled in the office. However, I really like the way we got to watch how the job became more and more important to Alicia, how her commitment to the work grew, and as it grew so did my respect for her. Also so much of her character got unpacked over time. She's not a person that I have much in common with or have natural understanding of, but I find her really coherently and sophisticatedly presented, and so I do find I have a lot of empathy for her.

Superficially her marriage was the most baffling part for me. While I think she and Peter have some chemistry, I find him so abhorrent and slimy personally that I have to remind myself why she may be drawn to him. I found her brother's speculation that she's trying not to be like their parents interesting, and I thought the description of her as 'always grown up' was perfect--she is so composed (the Alicia stare--hee! so true!) all the time, even when she's not inside. I'm glad the show allows us access to her inner feelings because otherwise she'd be hard to read. I do think Alicia likes order and I think she's a very committed person, so I can understand her viewing marriage as something that you do not give up on, no matter what. I actually really love and respect the fact that she's able to confidently draw boundaries within the marriage, and I like that she didn't just dump him out of anger. However, the degree to which she hasn't expressed her anger to Peter does worry me. It must have been incredibly hard not to have an outlet for that, having to hold it together in front of her children.

So, not unexpectedly I'm shipping her and Will. Cautiously. Because I don't really trust Will either. I trust that he loves Alicia, but I agree with her when she says he doesn't have a plan. And I also think he's easily compromised in his business life, and has blurry boundaries that may not be something Alicia is comfortable with. Having said that, it's definitely interesting to watch her get into muddier waters herself (though I fear for her!). I particularly like the way Cary has turned against her now. I really didn't like him at all to begin with but found him increasingly sympathetic over time. He is who he is: ambitious, determined, arrogant, but he works very hard, and I can see why he views Alicia as a hypocrite. She is outwardly angelic but she does end up using her position of privilege for her own ends, even if she has mixed feelings about doing so.

The character I love best though is Kalinda. She's so fantastically self-contained. I love that we know so little about her and that she is she has her own agenda and code that she stands by. I love that all the police know her and she can rock up to a stakeout and they're all 'hey Kalinda!' I love that she got courted by the FBI and turned them down. She's fascinating, and now that she has a slimy rival, I am even more of a Kalinda fangirl! No one bests Kalinda at her own game! *stomps feet*

I also grew to love Diane. She's so wry. I love her sense of humour. I liked her struggles with her family's political background when she considered owning a gun, and when she was attracted to the ballistics expert. I really felt for her when that came out in court, because she deserves a bit of happiness even if the attraction is counterintuitive to her. I also, strangely?, like her relationship with Will. At first they seemed like an odd couple to be business partners but I find them to be very well matched. They each have weaknesses but they also speak each other's language. Sometimes their little exchanges are delightfully characteristic of people who've known each other a very long time, even if they're not close as friends.

I couldn't care less about Peter and I wish he'd rot in prison, but I am finding his political campaign entertaining for one reason: Eli Gold. I find him hysterical! I mean he's horrible and manipulative but he's so compelling and hilarious! I love it when things go terribly wrong with the campaign and he loses it. It's so much fun to watch! Also the crazy shenanigans are fun to watch when I am not actually invested in them. And he makes for some great scenes. But wow, I would not trust him an inch.

The characters I don't find so well drawn are the other family members: the kids and grandma. I really dislike grandma and I find her to be the most stereotyped of all the female characters. She's strong, yes, but she's basically just a dragon lady who adores her son and manipulates everyone around her. I have no idea how Alicia puts up with her: to me she's almost harder to deal with than Peter. The kids I don't mind but I do find them a bit unrealistic as teenagers. I don't understand why they love their father so much. Did he buy them a lot of stuff? They don't seem to be distressed at all about his cheating. I can understand them having had a golden view of their father until that news came out, but wouldn't that make you find him repulsive after that? I mean no teenager wants to think about their parents having sex full stop, let alone with hookers. *shudders* I don't get it. Most of the time it doesn't matter though, it's just they're a couple of the characters I'm less interested in.

There is lots more stuff that I do like. I like the way the dynamic at the firm has been shaken up this year with a new partner. I found the Will-Alicia courtship very compelling, and I was mad as hell at Peter for screwing things up. I'm a bit fascinated to know just what history Will and Alicia have together because clearly it was a Very Big Deal that she have dinner with him... that kind of baffled me. I mean, he's her boss. Wouldn't they have dinner some time?! It didn't necessarily mean anything (ok, it did, but how did Peter know that?!). Is she never allowed to go out with male friends? YIKES! All the relationship-fail makes me cringe. Like the way Peter couldn't spend five minutes in his own house without going crazy (how was it worse than prison?) or the way she has to tell him how to heat pizza. In short, Alicia is awesome and deserves far better. But meanwhile her story makes for very compelling television. :) Yay!

This entry was originally posted at http://www.dreamwidth.org/12345.html. Comment here or there, as you will.
 
 
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Call Me OneTrackcallmeonetrack on October 21st, 2010 12:00 pm (UTC)
I'm not reading your post because I'm determined to start watching this show (from the beginning) before the year's out! The guest stars alone have me seriously intrigued and I hear nothing but good things!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on October 21st, 2010 08:34 pm (UTC)
Yup, highly recommended, but I definitely benefitted from watching through from the beginning. Hope you enjoy it!
Anne-Elisaetrangere on October 21st, 2010 12:52 pm (UTC)
I love that show ♥ Alicia:Kalinda OTP :p
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on October 21st, 2010 08:35 pm (UTC)
Hee! They're very fun together.
quiet dear I'm blooming withinturnonmyheels on October 21st, 2010 01:05 pm (UTC)
I've been watching The Good Wife since the start. I tuned in because I love Julianna Marguiles, but I stayed for the strong women and most importantly, KALINDA.

She is *amazing*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Freemabop_radar on October 21st, 2010 08:35 pm (UTC)
I knooooow! Kalinda rocks!
Nora Norwichnorwich36 on October 21st, 2010 04:41 pm (UTC)
I'm very happy that you're into this show now, because I always think it's fascinating and no one else I know watches it. I definitely agree with you on the Diane and Kalinda love. (To be honest, if I ship Alicia with anyone it's Kalinda, because like you I'm starting to develop my suspicions about will, and also: KALINDA! She is entirely made of awesome!)

I don't actually see this show as a procedural, though, because I think the cases are just a way to explore power and corruption, and how (at least in the Chicago political context, which I have some knowledge of since I grew up there) they suck in even the most well-meaning people (Alicia and Cary) and transform them. You don't get to be innocent in the Chicago legal system! Either you're a player or you get played. Which is part of the reason I, too, am enjoying the election storyline this season, because it just makes the power stuff more overt. That, and I love (or at least love to hate)Eli Gold.

I definitely agree with you about Grandma, who drives me nuts. In the episode with the Yom Kippur fast-breaking dinner party, I had to mute the sound when she was talking, she triggered my embarrassment squick so badly.

And I want to see Kalinda take down that new male detective SO MUCH.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Freemabop_radar on October 21st, 2010 08:40 pm (UTC)
Yes, I see why people ship Alicia/Kalinda. I can't quite go there myself simply because the show is so realistic and I don't think Alicia would go there. I'm not really sure Kalinda would be great in a relationship though either. ;p She makes a kickass BFF for Alicia though so I totally love their relationship.

So interesting your thoughts on it not being a procedural! That's probably my naivety in the genre coming out. What ou say makes a lot of sense, I think I was just set up to see it was that once every ep centred on a court case.

You don't get to be innocent in the Chicago legal system! Either you're a player or you get played.
Yup, it's fascinating to watch! And wow, yeah, the election stuff makes it so much more overt. I also love the way they show how technology developments have had an impact on both politics and the courts.

Ugh, Grandma, SO BAD. That dinner party was excruciating!
DC: Bend It Like Beckham - Jessbananainpyjamas on October 21st, 2010 05:09 pm (UTC)
Yay Good Wife!! I love the show but I can see how it's a hard sell and can take a little while to get going.

Re: anger on the part of Alicia and the kids, I wonder if the fact that the show jumps in a few months (?) after the scandal breaks means we missed the worst of it? Alicia does slap Peter at that press conferences, after all, so I'm guessing some anger was expressed.

Kalinda is the best. And I grew to like Cary too, which is astounding because arrogance is typically one of my biggest turnoffs. I think it's partly because I really felt bad for him when he didn't get the job. It wasn't that his work wasn't up to snuff, but rather that his rival had connections he couldn't hope to match. That sucks in a big way.

Then again I don't hate Alicia for playing that card because she has a family and needs to make up for not being able to put in the hours of a typical single associate. All so very complicated! It's fun. :D
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lois searchingbop_radar on October 21st, 2010 08:45 pm (UTC)
we missed the worst of it? Alicia does slap Peter at that press conference
I know, I spent the first half of the season trying to work out with that was supposed to be her only explosion (she's so very contained that seemed plausible!) or was meant as a stand in for other tension. However, Peter always seemed so deeply surprised by how hurt she was so I'm thinking it was quite isolated? The other thing is I wish we'd seen Peter apologise. Grandma keeps saying he did! But I want to see this grovelly apology!! :p

Yeah, I was surprised Cary became likeable to me too! I think the fact he didn't get the job combined with the fact that he had really appreciated Alicia's work turned the tide for me. I think he's a limited, flawed character but he's well drawn and he's young... I see how his world built him up to believe hard work would get him to the top and now he feels like even the nicest people in the world will stab you in the back.

I don't blame Alicia for playing that card either! In fact, I'm sure I'd do the same in her position. She so badly needed that job and Diane was right that she can't be Cary. I love how muddy everything is and how you can trace each character's rationale, while at the same time flinching at the implications. Definitely fun!!
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Gaius dancebop_radar on October 21st, 2010 11:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, he is MESMERISING! I already want to vid him but I can't even begin to imagine what a vid of him would look like! Hee. I find him utterly charming, which is ridiculous because I'm also screaming 'OMG HORRIBLE LITTLE MAN!' inside.

The only reason I don't want to ditch Peter is because he faciliates me seeing Eli! :D

My ultimate vid or fic in this fandom so far, I think, would be some kind of crazy spin-off which pits Kalinda against Eli. Kalinda would ultimately win but Eli would drive her nuts in the process and thus the smackdown would be even more beautiful. Eli would also be Kalinda's fan for ever after. :D
(no subject) - m_a_r_i_k_s on October 22nd, 2010 10:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on October 23rd, 2010 01:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
m_a_r_i_k_s: John and Dargo dancem_a_r_i_k_s on October 22nd, 2010 10:33 am (UTC)
Yay! You watched! Now you can see my vid and actually get the context, and somehow that notion makes me happy).

Hee, I don't see the show as much of a procedural anymore. Maybe it was from the beginning but now that the political plot and courtroom stuff as well as relationship drama merge before our very eyes, I think whatever forms of storytelling they use, ultimately it's about the characters interactions and development.

Alicia's character grew on me too, and I think Julianna's performance brings so many nuances without which it would be very hard to read her as she has a reserved, extremely self-controlled personality with a volcanic temper and sexuality boiling underneath her usual demeanor. It's very interesting to watch Alicia come to know the world she's been basically unaware of for many years, learn its rules and how to survive in those muddy waters remaining human, how define her ethical and moral boundaries according to what she believes is right. I was so worried about her last season when she had to go against Stern, or when their competition with Cary was about to be resolved… And it was fascinating to watch her struggling with having to defend a murderer twice.

I actually really love and respect the fact that she's able to confidently draw boundaries within the marriage, and I like that she didn't just dump him out of anger.

That would be too easy wouldn’t it? I don’t think Alicia’s built that way. And she keeps saying she loves him, which isn’t necessarily true but you can’t dismiss the fact that she cares about him a great deal even after his profound betrayal. Fifteen years of marriage can’t turn to dust in one moment, although I believe her trust might have been lost forever. Personally? I dislike Peter very much. But he’s interesting as a type of character in some ways, or maybe there’s always something sparkling in the people he keeps around, like Eli and some other aids.

I ship Alicia and Will too. You’ve no idea how wary I was at first about them and my own reactions. But they do have a great chemistry, and not just romantically, but as friends and a working team too. And I like the fact that they share those years at Georgetown that we know so little about.

That said, I don’t have any illusions about Will’s code of ethics in his business decisions making, I’m sure he’d cut a few throats to get so successful in terms of career making and become a law firm partner at a relatively young age, but that’s what makes him interesting as well. I’d like to see those personal moral boundaries of Will’s explored some more. What the story is that he shares with their new partner and his investigator. And I do believe his life changed a lot since Alicia came to work at the firm btw. Last season he said something about liking himself when he’s around her, and I think that he can’t quite decipher her influence on him, but instinctively knows it’s a good one; it seems like he gets more demanding of himself in her presence and more live and relaxed too.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee concentratingbop_radar on October 23rd, 2010 12:52 am (UTC)
Mm, I think maybe I was wrong to call it a procedural? norwich36 explains it isn't, above. I don't really know. I don't really watch shows set in legal offices so I assumed they are all like this! It definitely feels more like there's an overall season arc and themes being explored, and the connections between the characters are far more organic.

Yes, I agree wholeheartedly with you about Alicia's character and Julianna's performance. I think in some ways she surprises herself with what she's capable of (e.g. defending a murderer) and through that learns greater flexibility navigating a very fraught political landscape. At the same time she doesn't lose a firm inner compass.

That would be too easy wouldn’t it?
It would, and one thing I really like about her is she clearly views love, long-term love, as being capable of enduring periods of ambivalence or even antagonism. She doesn't reserve the term 'love' only for infatuation, which makes her more mature than a great many people. I do feel for her when people say 'you're not in love with him'. That feels so simplistic. She's built a life with him. Of course she still feels love for him in some way--he's part of her, but I also think she's learning just how much of him she didn't know, and I don't think she likes what she sees. That poses some big questions for her about whether the love she had for him is able to evolve to be ok with those now she knows. I absolutely loved it when she left to go on her 'date' with Will and she was all 'no, you know what, I'm NOT going to try, I actually can choose not to'. I do think overall she still thinks that the more valuable path is to give it time and see if her love will overcome these negative feelings about Peter.

I do find Peter makes for a lot of interesting scenes, I even find him really powerful in his scenes with Alicia. I just don't like him.

Yes! Dying to know what the story with Will and the new partner and investigator is! Yay, suspense! I think he also gets more in touch with his emotions when he's around her? And that offers him a different basis for decision making... I say that on instinct alone, I'd have to go back over the eps to say what I'm drawing on to say that, but I have that gut feeling. I found it interesting that Will said his father ran the business into the ground through generosity. I suspect Will's swung the other way in reaction but would ultimately feel more comfortable with more of a balance and perhaps he sees that in Alicia's decisions to sometimes do something 'because it's right'.
(no subject) - m_a_r_i_k_s on October 23rd, 2010 02:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on October 24th, 2010 09:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
m_a_r_i_k_s: scar_kissm_a_r_i_k_s on October 22nd, 2010 10:34 am (UTC)
I don’t know if you watched the fourth episode of the new season btw, but Will does something truly selfless in that one, I think you’ll enjoy it.

Kalinda was right in pointing out that his relationship with Alicia reminds us of “that high-school stuff” somewhat, but at the same time I can’t help noticing how mature these people are in dealing with their feelings.

Speaking of Kalinda, she’s amazing, isn’t she? I don’t know who can resist falling for this character at least a little bit)). It’s not just about kicking some ass spectacularly on a weekly basis; her professionalism and moral boundaries are impressive, I like that she’s never afraid to express her opinion, demonstrate where she stands even when it come to her bosses. I love how protective she is of Alicia – their friendship is one of the first things that I find compelling about this show. It’s interesting how different they seemingly are, at least in their behavior, and how accepting of each other at the same time. Alicia respects Kalinda’s personal space, the fact that she doesn’t want to go into details about her private life or her past; and there’s something beautiful in the way Kalida can’t resist Alicia’s naivety at first, she seems to make light jokes about it, but at the same time she admires it, knows that there are few people around quite so honest and pure as her new co-worker. I think she’s appalled how Alicia could share her life with Peter, because in some ways she sees him more clearly than his wife does. Yet it is striking that she’s probably the only person besides Will who doesn’t question Alicia’s reasons to stay with Peter after what he’d done. She doesn’t have to know them in details to respect them.

I really felt for her when that came out in court, because she deserves a bit of happiness even if the attraction is counterintuitive to her. I also, strangely?, like her relationship with Will. At first they seemed like an odd couple to be business partners but I find them to be very well matched.

I liked how quickly they dispelled those fist impressions of Diane as a stereotypically bitchy ruthless boss whom the team hates. I think she and Will have more in common than they realize. Sometimes they remind me of a brother/sister kind of relationship when one of the parties seems to be a world away from the other’s personal ideology but they know each other so very well that sometimes it comes across as something supernatural, they can read each other’s moves minutes before they actually happen. Another thing is that they’re both workaholics. It was striking for me to realize how lonely these characters are sometime past midseason 1. All of them. Will, Diane, Kalinda. Granted, they have a work they love most of the times, but other than that: look at how disconnected and craving for a simple human reaction they are, even if secretly, unconsciously.

What I like about Cary’s character is that he’s believable in everything from his triumphs to losses and even in the grudge he’s now holding against Alicia.

Grandma irritates me the most. I was sickened by hearing her condescending lecture at the end of S1 about Alicia doing it right, being a good wife who stood by her husband no matter what blah-blah-blah. On the other hand, I quite enjoyed seeing Alicia’s face turning to stone. So it’s one of those characters I find despicable but at the same time like seeing other people’s reactions to their repugnant self-enamored behavior. And sometimes she’s quite hilarious in tandem with Eli.

Oh, and I’d love to see Patty Nyholm (another one of the ‘love to hate’ kind of characters) more often on this show, some of the judges too.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee smilebop_radar on October 23rd, 2010 01:01 am (UTC)
I haven't seen the fourth episode yet, I'll catch it today probably.

Kalinda was right in pointing out that his relationship with Alicia reminds us of “that high-school stuff” somewhat, but at the same time I can’t help noticing how mature these people are in dealing with their feelings.
Yes, totally! I love the way both Will and Alicia both ring back and/or go back to talk to each other after something happens between them. They don't have any shame or silly shyness about saying 'ok, something's happening between us, we should sort this out'. It's refreshing--even if they don't actually sort it out. ;) Speaking of: waaaaah, Eli deleting the phone message!!!! Aaaaaghhh the angst!!

I like that she’s never afraid to express her opinion, demonstrate where she stands even when it come to her bosses
Yes, I love that about Kalinda and I love that she knows how to be assertive and coaches Alicia on it. She doesn't fear speaking her mind because she knows the value of her work speaks for itself.

she’s probably the only person besides Will who doesn’t question Alicia’s reasons to stay with Peter after what he’d done. She doesn’t have to know them in details to respect them.
I feel like she's more respectful than Will in a way because Will is respectful out of love, whereas I think Kalinda more firmly believes that your personal relationship decisions are nobody's business but your own. It's wonderful and I do like their interactions very much--Alicia is cute when she's all 'but I know nothing about you!!'

a brother/sister kind of relationship
Ohh yeah! I totally see that. I've also worked with several women who remind me of Diane very much. Women of that age, unmarried workaholics, cutthroat but very good at their job. Some of them were more bitches than she was but I do appreciate seeing that kind of person explored sympathetically on screen. And yes, this is a show of workaholics and they are turning Alicia into one too!

Yes, Cary is so very believable. The show really does that thing of allowing the characters to be completely who they are and not apologise for them--and it makes even people with unlikeable traits more sympathetic as a result, because they're so human.

Yes, I like these 'love to hate' characters! I think I like Grandma least but even she can build some good moments. It does fascinate me to see the different ways that the lawyers 'play' the court, a witness or the judge.
(no subject) - m_a_r_i_k_s on October 23rd, 2010 02:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on October 24th, 2010 09:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on October 26th, 2010 07:58 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - m_a_r_i_k_s on October 26th, 2010 08:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on October 26th, 2010 10:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - m_a_r_i_k_s on October 26th, 2010 12:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on October 26th, 2010 08:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Ms Cranky Pants of the Depresso Blogbofoddity on October 22nd, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC)
Maaaaaan I need to start catching up with this show again! It took me some time to really warm up to it, and while I'm not as fannish about it as I am about other things (The Vampire Diaries!), it's a really fantastic show and it's been awesome to see it succeed. So many fascinating women! Such an interesting treatment of morals and ethics and how gray, white and black they can be! I don't mind the kids much either (though it's kind of noticeable that the boy gets to be the active one), but compared to other female characters the grandma is a disappointment, though I like the actress. Male characters are interesting to watch too, but while I sympathize with Cary and find Eli Gold hilarious, we have seen guys like this in many shows before, and while they're still interesting they don't draw me as much as the female characters do. It's such a fascinating show and as I said, I need to catch up with the current season. Where is the well-deserved buzz for this show?
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Audrey Tautoubop_radar on October 23rd, 2010 01:04 am (UTC)
Yeah, definitely the female characters are the drawcard and fascination. I like that it's so clearly still a male-dominated world they live in, yet all of them struggle actively with that, and do so in different ways. They do have constraints on them, realistic ones, but it doesn't actually limit them. They are far more active agents of their own lives than most female characters on the shows I watch (ugh, makes me realise how crap most genre TV is). Yeah, not sure why there's not so much buzz... I do blame the marketing here a little. It really sold it as a highly conservative show about a sex scandal, something titillating and a bit 'wrong'. Which... isn't what I get out of the show AT ALL.
brokenmnemonic: BSG - Silhouettebrokenmnemonic on October 22nd, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)
I need to come back and comment in detail when I'm running on more than 8 hours sleep in the last 72 hours, because this is one of my favourite shows, I like the idea of having a show in common again, and it's not often I get to be fannishly annoying these days ;)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on October 23rd, 2010 01:04 am (UTC)
You won't be annoying! Do come back! Sorry to hear you're so busy. Yeah, I finally caught up more or less... I think I have a few more eps of Season 2 to see then I'm up to speed. :) It's a really good show!