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Wednesday, 3 of March of 2021

The Good Wife – “I Fought the Law”

“This isn’t about the ’50s, and it’s not about women. It’s about me.”

The Good Wife Title Card s3I don’t know that many dramas do better season premieres than The Good Wife.

It’s not that “I Fought the Law” is necessarily a crazy episode but that it is, now in its fourth season, can effortlessly do these sorts of establishing episodes with not only aplomb but with enough little touches that it didn’t miss a step over the break.

But there’s also a lot of promise in this premiere. It’s par for the course for the series, one that likes to juggle lots of different elements. These elements don’t always pay off (Remember how excited I was about Lisa Edelstein last year?!), but it’s a sign of the show’s ever-increasing ambition that it actively pursues these elements. And I think the plots points presented here, the law firm troubles, Peter’s campaign, Kristen Chenoweth’s reporter, and another new Kalinda subplot, all show promise.

Which must be a shocking for those of who you who know my beefs with Kalinda. I’ve been routinely frustrated with Kalinda’s presence on the show. I’m not going to backtrack on those criticisms of past Kalinda storylines now, but I am going to say that, despite some misgivings about the announced storyline I am fully on board with it.

The simple fact is that with the presence of Nick, Kalinda’s in a similar situation to Alicia. As Kristen Chenoweth’s Peggy asks that ever-lingering question about why Alicia is staying with Peter it clicks into place. Both women are…not trapped, but are lingering in relationships with flawed and abusive men, and they’re trying to negotiate what those relationships mean to them.

It’s the sort of conflict that we’ve seen play out in Breaking Bad. Why doesn’t Skyler just leave Walter? What keeps her in that death trap of marriage (even after a supposed reform)? Certainly the scales are different (Walter is a murderous, abusive, drug-dealing sociopath while Peter is guy who got stoned with some hookers; I think Nick likely falls closer to Walter), but the core question remains: What has feminism done, in the concerns of Peggy, if these women are sticking around?

And that’s ultimately what’s been exciting about The Good Wife since the first season. It’s a show about interrogating the meanings of feminism. And now with Kalinda’s husband here, the series seeks to create, hopefully, a dialog between these two women’s situations. What is Alicia’s responsibility to feminism as a public figure, and what are Kalinda’s as a woman struggling to survive? I don’t think Peggy accuse Kalinda of setting women back to the 1950s for beating the crap out of Nick, having sexy fun times (even though both of those things seem related with these two), and then pulling a gun on him.

I don’t have answers to this, of course. The show’s not done, the plots could be a dead-end, and the show could fumble this entire thing. Nonetheless, it’s vital that a show on broadcast network, a show that, feasibly, could be watched by anyone with a television, addresses these issues.

Lots left to talk about, of course, but let’s have at it in the comments.

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