30 Pilots in 30 Days: The Good Wife

Had I seen it before: No.

What IMDb says: Alicia has been a good wife to her husband, a former state’s attorney. After a very humiliating sex and corruption scandal, he is behind bars. She must now provide for her family and returns to work as a litigator in a law firm.

Why I picked it: I felt like I needed a token CBS show. Suck it, NCIS.

Oh, also a political drama focused on how a wife deals with being a fallen politician’s wife sounds like a delightful feminist twist on the genre. And who doesn’t love a delightful feminist twist?

What I liked: Almost everything. Likable protagonist leading a compelling life? Check. A nice balance between familiar genre and fresh, original take on that genre? Check. Good mix of resolved procedural conflict and a tease of conflicts to come? Check.

So why does it work so well?

For one, it does a really good job of establishing our main conflict within the first three minutes: Peter Florick has resigned from his job as State’s Attorney amid soliciting prostitution allegations. His wife Alicia is left to pick up the pieces. Four more minutes and we’ve already been briefed on our case of the week: a woman who has been accused of her first husband’s murder is about to be retried after the jury in her first trial was deadlocked.

As the pilot progresses we’re given even more conflicts to look forward to. Alicia must work alongside someone who used to work for her husband but was fired; She is competing against another new hire and after six months, only one of them will keep their job; She doesn’t like her mother-in-law, who has stepped in to help take care of Alicia’s kids.

The real genius of this pilot comes in when Alicia visits Peter in prison. Because of his work as a former State’s Attorney, he is able to feed her information about her case that is crucial for Alicia’s win. This sets up so much interesting shit that the writers can play around with until they tire of it.

First off, it gives Alicia a believable reason to stay with Peter and be nice to him. It pits the anger she has towards him on a personal level against her professional success, which of course she needs now more than ever since she is the sole breadwinner for her family.

It also means that our protagonist is walking a very thin ethical line, and the pilot is sure to remind us of this several times. We get the feeling that moving forward, Alicia could get in the same kind of trouble as Peter at any moment.

There’s also the question of what will happen when new cases come in that Peter has no knowledge of. Is Alicia actually a good enough lawyer to make it on her own? 

What I didn’t like: We kind of have the same problem as Grey’s Anatomy where at the end Alicia basically admits that she doesn’t know why she decided to stay with Peter. I’m a little more forgiving here than I am with Grey’s Anatomy though because 1) Peter’s mother is helping take care of Alicia’s kids and 2) Peter leaked crucial information allowing her to win her case. We can see why Peter is a bridge Alicia can’t afford to burn even if he’s a scumbag that doesn’t deserve her. It just would’ve been nice to see Alicia attribute her decision to something other than “I was unprepared.”

Do I want to watch Ep. 2: I want to throw on some comfy clothes and binge this thing with cheap wine and Ben and Jerry’s to comfort me. It just seems like it would lend itself to that sort of a thing.

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