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Friday, 16 of April of 2021

The Good Wife – “Unplugged”

As long as we’re solvent ghouls.”

It’s fun watching a show that creates parallels without hitting you over the head with them (I am not talking about…okay, that was totally about last night’s Lost…). Much like the question of whether or not the plug needs to be pulled on Max Wilder, the rock star in the coma by the episode’s end, the fates of L&G and Alicia’s and Cary’s placements within that firm are all in question, and who has whose best interests at heart swirl around the episode at a dizzying pace.

The parallels between who controls Wilder’s fate and those who control the fate of L&G and Alicia and Cary are never made explicit, and it makes for richer storytelling when a show trusts viewers enough to draw those connections themselves (and if they don’t, the show is still enjoyable). They’re there, underlining the episode, making the drama that much better. But perhaps underlining the show overall are contemporary concerns about the economy.

While the case is there to provide the parallels, the meat of the episode is in the ups and downs of the characters, as they come to grips their situations. Indeed, I think one of the best things about this show is how it deploys current day situations in a way to create a contemporary period piece. The economic downturn the United States finds itself allows them to create a recognizable set of stakes are a forces beyond everyone’s control, including the show’s.

That being said, for all the show’s talk about the bad economy, it’s important to remember how it presents the effects of the economy. Seeing fairly well-off people struggle with a bad economy is an interesting thing. Yes, the firm is rapidly losing solvency and could find itself shutting its doors, but I imagine that Will and Diane and many of the other equity partners are doing okay in the long run. And while the montage of bills and check book writing shows what straits the Florricks are in, they is living in a pretty sizable condo (it has a maid’s room for pete’s sake!) and I imagine Peter’s fees, both legal and political, must be steep. Even Cary’s place, shown last week, looked pricey.

The show is obviously doing well in the ratings, but I wonder how that bill paying scene played for audiences. Do they feel sympathetic for Alicia? Is that one last thing that’s weighing her down as she tries to stay afloat? Or does it come off as a rich white woman who should be downsizing anyway? (A maid’s room! In a condo! They don’t even have a maid!). Does the fact that bad economy is being shown as effecting even the upper class provide a degree of comfort to viewers who may not be in that same income bracket? Or do they just feel disgruntled, scoff at the fact that the rich woman is suddenly worried about her condo?

That Alicia wins the contest between her Cary and by bringing in Eli and a number of his clients shows that money (and connections) talk more the the hustle that Cary was seen performing throughout the episode (and through this portion of the season I’ve watched). I liked how blunt Diane was with Alicia, as Alicia has never wanted to exploit her connections since it draws her too close to Peter’s world. But in the end that’s all she can do to keep her job. Cary’s firing is well played, watching him deflate since he’s sure he’s safe. It’s a rough scene, and Alicia’s stoic face gives nothing away about what’s she’s thinking.

It’s a tricky balancing act to perform, entertaining a broad audience while still engaging in the issues of the day. You lack the benefit of perspective that history ultimately provides in period pieces but there’s a lack of fictional programs that deal with social issues in non-satirical ways, so I’ll take what I can get when a show can be both entertaining and be socially relevant.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Bringing in Eli as a client also has the benefit of showing how the show will incorporate Alan Cumming as a regular next season without picking up Chris Noth as a regular. It was wonderfully handled.
  • They sure put Becca on the bus quick. Then again, if I were Becca, I wouldn’t show up again after the smackdown I received at the hands of Eli Gold. At the same time, it was very sudden, and given the prominence they hinted Becca would have, to just let that slide is a bit frustrating. I sometimes think that the writers don’t really know what to do with Zach and Grace, and this is one of those instances.
  • The name Vernon Jordan was bothering me, until I looked it up and realized he was a real human being. Which explained why he’s not a good actor.
  • That scene of Kalinda making out with Burton in his SUV was unintentionally funny as it ended up looking like Kalinda was making out with the window and not with Burton.
  • The rock star’s mistress did not look 28.


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