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!
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