…one of the most successful experimental procedurals is a glossy hit show smack in the middle of CBS, The Good Wife. It’s a series that might not look like anything particularly radical if you’ve never watched it, and certainly has all the surface pleasures of any lazy laundry-folder, including that gorgeous cast (Julianna Margulies and Chris Noth) and the classic, comforting, often lurid case-of-the-week structural element.
But for a regular viewer, it’s clear those lawsuits are a bait and switch. The show’s creators use them as scaffolding for a much stranger series — a cynical, erotic meditation on politics and modern scandal. Better yet, The Good Wife is the first show I’ve seen that seems to actually be about politics on a psychological level, as opposed to the pleasurable utopia that was The West Wing.
The show began with a resonant jumping-off question, one on everyone’s minds at the time: What was Silda Spitzer (Elizabeth Edwards, Jenny Sanford, Dina McGreevey) thinking? But it’s branched out since season one, exploring the mysteries of marriage in the public eye; the ambiguous qualities of ambition and repentance; the question of what it’s like to be a child in a famous family; boys’ club gamesmanship and post-Obama racial politics; as well as the fun of dirty tricks both legal and legislative.