Saturday, 26 October 2013

The Way the World Ends; very belated thoughts on The Good Wife

(Apparently I didn’t hit the publish button on my piece on last Sunday’s episode of The Good Wife,and with six days since the episode I figured it would be better to do a less review-y piece looking forward to tomorrow’s “Hitting the Fan” instead of publishing said original review. So, instead of an analysis of “On the Bubble” here are some incidental thoughts on the show in general, my thoughts on the current season, the way forward and nagging worries.)

As someone who’s been a firm fan of the show over the years it’s been interesting watching the oftentimes underappreciated show (as far as internet conversation goes) getting so much attention paid to it over the last two weeks. For much of the back half of the show’s fourth season, from “The Seven Day Rule” onwards I routinely mused on twitter at the muted online response to The Good Wife. Even significant television critics who admitted to watching, and liking, the show didn’t speak of it often. Weekly reviews weren’t forthcoming. It would only be lucky to get a mention, perhaps every fortnight to say – “Oh, The Good Wife is a good show, too.” I wondered if people spoke so little about it because no one showed interest or were people not showing interesting because so few spoke of it?

With the civil war between Lockhart/Gardner and the defecting Florrick/Agos firm, though, the spotlight has been stationed on the show in a more urgent way. It is great news for the show, especially when – despite generally good notices it spends each season being considered as an “on the bubble” show potentially due for cancellation. Whether that’s paranoid TV assessors or true wisdom, who can tell? Because I’m probably the paranoid one, though, I found myself second-guessing this surge of goodwill towards the show. I said to my sister, “Why the belated “this is a good show” notices towards The Good Wife? it’s been a good show since its inception, it’s been a great show since at least the second one.”

“Don’t over think it,” she said.

A fair point. The serialised nature of the civil war on at the firm has been a key way in showing naysayers who’ve never bothered to assess the show that The Good Wife is not an expressly procedural show. The show’s serialised nature isn’t anything new, of course, but still. Let me not second guess it. But, I wondered? What happens after the unmentionables hit the fan tomorrow? What happens a day after or a week after when the dust settles and a new status quo is found. Assuming that the Kings continue to be as savvy as they’ve always been the show will continue to be a good – even great one – but will the new enthusiasts specifically lured in by the civil war decide to stick around? Or will the new status quo be indicative of a slump?

I don’t think there’s any show right now that I’m as protective about as The Good Wife. When it falters I’m both disappointed and worried for it, when it does good I feel prideful. Judging all the from January to now I do think, yes, this is the best drama of the year. I read someone say, “No matter how good The Good Wife tries to be it’ll always be just another lawyer show. It’s not doing anything particularly innovative.”

As I said, I’m sensitive about the show so I bristled. And I wondered, how difficult will The Good Wife be just for being a lawyer show? Or for being a network show? It’s offered wisdoms on the trials and dangers of friendships in the workplace, it’s offered insights into petty politics, it’s been savvy in showing the subtleness and easy reach of patriarchy and privilege. Myriad cable shows have been praised for these qualities , the same ones the Kings consider and weigh in on season after season. Will they pull of the civil war give it the attention it needs? Or will the conversation on its goodness recede after the dust of the battle settles? The way the first four episodes of the season have played out could very well legitimatise claims that the Kings are preparing for the show’s inevitable cancellation. I find the “likely to be cancelled” claims baffling, but the pressing concern after the drama of the internal warfare at Lockhart/Gardner is what happens after.

OF all the showrunners with shows on air, or recently finished, I trust Robert and Michelle King more than most. I don’t doubt that they have vested interest in their characters or want to do well b them so I’m not worried that they have an end in sight, but it’s curious how it’s almost to a hundred episodes of consistent work and the show is still always in this uneasy position of “can-it-sustain?”. I’m not so much worried about if the Kings will do right as I am about if the show can hold on to the current excitement about it after the storm is over.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s episode but also nervous about the after.

Excited and scared.

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