A lot has changed since I last wrote about The Good Wife, and unfortunately these changes have been for the worst. After dubbing this show the most impressive show on TV following its amazing fifth season and good first half of its sixth season, the show has hit some unexpected turbulence. The second half of The Good Wife season six was as aimless as its lead was by the end of her arc. A major theme during this period on the show was that Alicia didn’t know what she wanted, which was sadly wholly appropriate for the show since it didn’t seem to know where it was going either. Hitting us with yet another election story line, isolating the Alicia from the supporting cast, and going to great pains to invalidate all of the major changes that happened over the course of the show’s fifth season really put a damper on things. For a series that is often praised for its boldness and refusal to conform to network TV standards, it seemed oddly eager to revert back to its status quo. For those who want a basic understanding of what went wrong, here is a brief overview.
Walking the halls of the show’s law firm are not characters, but ghosts. Spectral anomalies caught between this world and the next, roaming, searching, hungering. Cary Agos, a character at the centre of the first half of the latest season was reduced to a shell during the second half, desperately searching for a plot line to latch on to, but only allowed to be tangibly related to what was happening. Other characters, played by notable guest stars like Nathan Lane and Jess Weixler, have stopped appearing on the show altogether without warning or reason. This has more to do with the actors themselves rather than the writing, but it’s an issue nonetheless in a show with as loose a setting as this. The law firm musical chairs and the decision to repair all severed connections in season 5 didn’t help matters here either.
The Show Stopped Being an Ensemble
The Good Wife has always been a show that was held up not only by its stellar lead, but also her supporting actors. Yet, during the latter part of the season, those major characters began to fade more and more into the distant background. At first with Alicia’s election storyline, the divide between her and her co-workers held dramatic weight. The stakes were high, and Alicia was preoccupied with a goal that was entirely personal, but later on, it just began to drag and suck the focus out of everything else on the show. Not only that, it had me questioning why there was any focus on the other characters at all because all their storylines were so frivolous. Neil Gross is unhappy again? So what? The audience is long past being invested in his nonsense. If the show wanted to sell us on Alicia’s rise and fall, they should have went all the way with it or dropped it entirely and focus on a plot that would allow for focus on the show’s other cast members. You can’t have it both ways, you can’t take focus away from Alicia defining herself with a plot about the firm dealing with petty disputes.
Characters The Show Doesn’t Know What To Say About
Here’s something I never thought I’d say before watch season 6: I am sick of Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox) and Lemond Bishop (Mike Colter). I’ve had it with them and their back and forth antics. Canning is a cut-throat lawyer with Parkinson’s disease, and Bishop is a drug-dealing kingpin with a deep love for his son. We get it, people are complex and have several shades to them, but eventually chickens have to come home to roost. Between the plot with Canning possibly pretending to have fallen seriously ill and only having a short time to live and Bishop forcing Kalinda to babysit his son, I’m at my limit with these characters. These plots seem to lack direction, but the worst part about them is how boring they are. It’s like I’m being told “THESE PEOPLE ARE COMPLEX”, but nothing is coming of it. It’s all so meaningless.
Nothing else needs to be said. We’ve known for a long time that this was to be Kalinda’s final season on the show, and what a God damn disaster this was, and yet another example of the writers letting the actors dictate what goes on in this show. Kalinda’s character was so great for the first two seasons of the show because of how well she bounced of Alicia’s character. They were the show’s central pair; Alicia the lawyer with Kalinda her investigative partner. Following a gut-wrenching twist at the end of the show’s second season, they had a falling out, and unfortunately Kalinda’s character never quite recovered from it. Her last remaining (good) connection to the show was with Will Gardner, but after Josh Charles’ departure, her character was completely untethered from the story. Reduced to sexy liaisons with no-name characters (and occasionally Cary) and magical case-solving errands for the firm, Kalinda’s character became an honest to God parody former self. Even her relationship with Cary Agos felt empty because there was always the sense that she never saw him as an equal. There was romance there there, but it was just a relationship that only approached meaning during Cary’s incarceration. What we all wanted to see was Alicia and Kalinda together again, but for over two seasons these characters wouldn’t even share the same room with each other. Kalinda’s character suffered and the show suffered and that’s because the actors can’t stand each other for some reason. So much so that their hotly anticipated final scene together was actually done through green screen trickery. These professional actresses hate each other so much that they can’t even stomach being together in the one scene that should have mattered the most. They couldn’t be their for each other during Kalinda’s final episode on the show, and that is absolutely disgusting. Season 6 seems to have been about three downfalls. The downfall of Alicia’s career in the show’s universe, the conclusion to Kalinda’s character downfall that began following the show’s second season, and finally the downfall of the show itself.
Ok, perhaps that was a bit dramatic. The Good Wife is still and will most likely always be an entertaining watch, and there are a couple of genuinely great episodes that were produced during the latter half of the season. The frustration comes from the fact that I know the show can be so much better. Once a master at spinning several different interesting plot threads at once, this season could barely handle two, and with Alicia partnering with Louis Canning at the end (which was prompted by a pretty dumb plotline at the firm) things are looking grim. Let’s hope season seven, which is likely to be the show’s final set of episodes, ends on a high note. I need this show to die gracefully, or I’ll lose it just like I almost lost it when Kalinda ate her ex-husband back in season 4.
Quote of the Day:
“Absence of ‘Yes’ times ‘Time’ equals ‘No’.”
– Eli Gold, The Good Wife.