I love recommending television shows to people. Friends, family, girlfriends, anyone. If they need an extra boost, I’ll even watch it with them. I’ve already scheduled the time to watch both seasons of Mr. Robot with my Mom over the holidays (that’s how cool I am). When I pick a new target for a recommendation, I go through my usual list of top shows: Game of Thrones, the aforementioned Mr. Robot, The Walking Dead, etc. But there’s one show that has always been a favorite of mine that I never seem to recommend to anyone: The Good Wife.
I guess I worry that liking The Good Wife would somehow be a blow to my manhood. But why? It’s not like I stay away from advocating for female-fronted shows. I got several people hooked on Homeland and I never shy away from voicing my fondness for Fringe. I think it could be the title: The Good Wife, it sounds inherently girly. But nonetheless, the time has come for me to share my love for this show with the world. And especially since the spinoff is launching in a matter of months, it’s time you got on board as well. Here are four reasons why guys can (and should) like The Good Wife:
1. There are characters besides Alicia Florrick
Yes, the show does center around the titular Good Wife, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies). She’s an incredible character, but she’s not whom I connect with most. The millennials in the crowd will be drawn (as I was) to Cary Agos (Matt Czurchry). He’s a young up-and-coming attorney who initially serves as a rival to Alicia. He’s the new talent directly competing against her return to the workplace. Without getting into spoilers, Cary’s story fleshes out in the latter seasons where he’s given a meatier role. Cary really grows up through the show’s seven seasons in what I found to be a very satisfying arc.
Now if a workplace drama set in a law firm sounds boring in general, let me introduce you to the firm’s investigator: Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi). As the investigator, it’s Kalinda’s job to get witnesses and evidence to help her colleagues win cases - and let’s just say she isn’t always concerned with following the law herself. It would be hard to dive deeply into Kalinda’s exploits without giving too much away, but I’ll go as far as saying she is willing to use anything in her toolbox to get the job done. And once the firm gets involved with Chicago’s top drug dealer Lemond Bishop (Mike Colter AKA Marvel’s Luke Cage) Kalinda’s morals go further into the gray.
Speaking of a guest actor on the show, The Good Wife has one of the most incredible guest casts on television. It's these recurring judges, opposing lawyers, and clients that make the show’s universe feel real. I could spend the whole article listing all my favorites, but I’ll limit myself to just a few: (in no particular order) Dylan Baker as the creepy-in-the-best-way client Colin Sweeney, Martha Plimpton as a seemingly always pregnant opposing counsel, and Carrie Preston as the neurotic yet genius attorney Elsbeth Tascioni. And I didn’t even touch two of the most prominent guest actors Michael J. Fox and Alan Cumming, who were so spectacular that the show's creators elevated their roles as the series progressed.
If you have seen the show already, you’ll notice that I left out the male lead of the show, Josh Charles. His character is definitely one the male audience can connect with so I felt he deserved his own section, Reason #2:
2. Will Gardner is just as badass as Harvey Specter
Now before I get the Suits fans in the crowd too riled up, I’ll have you know that I am one of you. I love Suits and I’ve seen every episode of it as well. But, I feel the need to stand up for The Good Wife. I think the public’s perception is that Suits was made for a male audience, whereas The Good Wife was made for a female audience. First off, it’s 2016 (I can’t believe it took me that long to make that joke in an article about gender). More seriously though, if it’s a strong bullish male lead like Harvey Specter I need to convince the guys to watch, I present Will Gardner.
These two characters were cut from the same cloth. Both Will and Harvey get most of their dealings done pre-trial and spend a lot of their scenes arguing with judges and/or opposing counsel. They bully witnesses, but they come off as lighthearted outside the courtroom. Essentially, just like Harvey Specter, Will Gardner can be summed up as the character men want to be and women want to be with (that phrase seems a little outdated). The one thing Suits fans might miss, in watching Will Gardner, is the lack of a mentor-mentee bromance (a la Harvey and Mike). I think there was potential to do this with Will and the aforementioned Cary, but the writers didn’t see that as a fitting direction to go in.
Let’s move off of the characters and look at the story of The Good Wife, here’s Reason #3:
3. It straddles the line between serialized and episodic drama
Before I started watching The Good Wife, I always worried that since it was a CBS drama that it would be completely procedural. The network is known for pushing out a ton of these “case-of-the-week” shows and even iterating on the same ones with new locations (cough cough, CSI: Miami). These shows, in general, just aren’t my cup of tea. I like shows that develop their characters over the course of a season or series and don’t reset their storylines after each episode. I always prefer dramas where I need to see every episode to really understand what’s going on.
Now, don’t get me wrong, The Good Wife is no Game of Thrones. There are episodes that are entirely self-contained and you could miss these and still keep up with the story. But, there are episodes you can’t miss. There are ongoing plots that run throughout seasons and some that even carry over through the entire run. This mix of serialized and episodic storylines work for the viewers that want plot progression and character development, but also for those that don’t want to give their televisions 100% of their focus. And the “case-of-the-week” storylines you get in The Good Wife are far from procedural, which brings me to my next point, Reason #4:
4. The cases are really interesting
Back to the Suits versus The Good Wife comparison for a second. Although I love the courtroom drama of Suits, to me the cases are secondary to the plot surrounding whoever is taking over the firm or something to do with Mike’s past. The cases themselves are usually iterations of Character A is suing Character B for wrongful termination or Company C is merging with Company D. There is the occasional exception, but real thought provoking cases only happen once or twice a season. The Good Wife, on the other hand, rips their cases straight from the news and/or fabricates scenarios that we’re likely to see happen in the next few years based on emerging technology or political trends.
As a bit of a tech nerd myself, I love the episodes in later seasons with cases on self-driving cars, personal drones, and the like. And one of the best ongoing storylines is the semi-regular check-ins we get with the NSA. I won’t go into too much detail, but the way the show portrays them (as a bunch of nerdy slackers that send each other goat videos) is downright hilarious. And if tech isn’t your thing, you’ll get invested in other high-stakes cases involving murders, drugs, racism, the list goes on. Plot-wise it pays off that Alicia’s is an all-service firm. And just to hammer home an earlier point, the reason you get so invested is because of the stellar guest cast!
I’m hoping I’ve already sold you on trying out The Good Wife, but just in case I haven’t (and you’re a The Walking Dead fan) I give you a…
Bonus Reason: Negan!
In The Good Wife’s final season, Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Jason Crouse, who is essentially a pre-zombie-apocalypse Negan. That should be reason enough to make it to Season 7.
If you try out the show, let me know what you think! Thanks for reading and see you next time on Scripted TV Hangover.