The Good Wife, Identity and What it Means to be Good

5 May

The word is in the title and question of ethics and morality have been at the center of both The Good Wife and who Alicia Florrick is since the pilot. The moral grey area has expanded with each season and Alicia is no longer naive and wide eyed when it comes to these boundaries. Alicia tells her mom that “Nothing’s as simple as it used to be” and considering how tangled her romantic life was prior to Will’s death this might seem like a ridiculous notion. There was simplicity in that there was Will and there was Peter and while that was a mess of sorts, it was something Alicia has lived with for five years (more if you include their bad timing at college). Now there is Peter and there is nothing, the nothing is the daunting thing and work isn’t enough to keep her occupied especially when Cary forces her to take a day off.

The Deep WebWill’s death continues to hang over each episode in a way that doesn’t make it too maudlin or disingenuous for Alicia and Diane. With Diane it’s mostly in a work sense (more on that below), for Alicia it has her questioning everything. There have been moments in each episode since this tragedy where something causes Alicia to have a teary eyed reaction and Julianna Margulies is working the glassy eyes so well as she draws breath and stops those tears from exploding. They do come eventually as she breaks down on her mother in a way she stopped herself from doing in front of Owen last week; with Owen Alicia still wants to appear as the pillar of strength she likes to project, but with Veronica she lets the facade slide.

The Good Wife is Alicia’s story and this season filled in some of the blanks of Alicia’s return to work after Peter’s scandal. For the audience Alicia’s role has always been more lawyer than wife so to hear her question this part of her life is jarring. It is something Alicia mentioned when she encountered Grace’s old tutor Jennifer and at the time it came across as an extreme reaction to her grief. Is this something we should take seriously now that she has mentioned it on more than one occasion? Alicia spends so much time between work and whatever she is with Peter now that everything else is muddled; last week she told Owen she was happy with this and at the time she was very convincing. However, the cracks continue to form and Alicia’s black/beige/white block Narciso Rodriguez jacket is trying to present some form of order and yet it highlights how fractured her life is.

Jury duty selection produces a meet cute and it is the catalyst for Alicia’s confusion this week as she doesn’t know how she should behave with Daniel. It’s always been Peter or Will so to throw in a brand new flirtation is rather jarring for both Alicia and the audience. There’s no real reason why she can’t go for a drink with Daniel – technically she is still married, but what’s one drink? – and it doesn’t even have to be about getting laid as Owen suggested in the previous episode. For Alicia it feels like she is cheating and when she asks who she is being faithful to, the crane shot and the look up infer that it is Will. I don’t know if the audience are ready for Alicia to move on this quickly from Will and while there has been some chat about her chemistry with Finn, for me they are reading very much as solid friends. This isn’t to say that something won’t happen down the line (he is also married), but their catch up call at the end of the episode felt very much like BFFs checking in on each other rather than romance.

The notable thing about this relationship is how Finn has become her go to person and as Alicia has always had a glaring lack of friends since the whole Kalinda breakup, I’m glad to see her find a friend as a result of this tragedy. During this conversation Finn mentions how Eli is trying to turn him into a hero and how Eli already made her a saint so we circle back on this idea of purity and Alicia’s identity. This might also have contributed to Alicia’s decision to not go into the bar for a drink and while we know Alicia isn’t a saint (because who is?!) this has become part of her persona as it has been reinforced on multiple occasions.

Saint and hero are both labels that suggest an inherent goodness and while Alicia and Finn are uncomfortable with this notion, they also let Eli manipulate the press to adhere to this image. Finn’s soft spoken answers about the shooting and his sister’s suicide help with this perception and so far he’s very much the good guy. We’ve also seen how Castro is not above leaking personal information about Finn and so this SA race is going to get dirty; will Finn be able to retain his hero status? Alicia has committed many actions that could impact the image the public has of her as the woman who stood by her man, Will being the main one and it’s the glance she is given in the bar that sets off her alarm bells when it comes to socializing with Daniel over lunch. There’s still so much conflict about who Alicia is and how she is perceived; at the moment her grief is compounding this further.

Alicia’s relationship with Will was never public and that impacts the legitimacy of it and how she is dealing with his death “It’s unreal. Like he’s, like he’s still there, you know? Or he was never there at all.” It was always so hard to define what she had with Will, particularly with the added emotional turmoil this season and so it is not surprising to hear Alicia complain that everything is in a tailspin. Part of the reason why Alicia decided to leave Lockhart Gardner was down to the overwhelming Will feelings as she used work to avoid her personal life. Losing Will has caused Alicia to look inward and she doesn’t like what she is seeing and this might be why she is questioning if she wants to be a lawyer anymore. It’s never really been about being a ‘good wife’ more like becoming someone beyond this label and this crisis has Alicia examining everything that makes her who she is and it is terrifying.

the good wife 5.20 DianeOver at Lockhart Gardner, Diane is taking a very different approach as she is concerned about the actions of David Lee and Louis Canning in regards to her clients. Diane’s not going to roll over and let them take the reins of the firm she helped create and she’s got Kalinda in her corner to help with any potential sneak attacks. Canning tells Diane he is dying, which turns out to be true and yet Diane’s instincts are spot on as he’s also trying to screw her. Kalinda notes there is something different about Diane in a good way – here’s that word again – and Diane explains that she feels like she is “channeling Will’s ghost.” It’s like Diane has taken the best of Will to help with her current situation. The women of Lockhart Gardner are making their presence felt as Kalinda and Diane are wearing colors that make them stand out; purple and royal blue are colors that emphasize power and neither are going to go gentle into that good night.



2 Responses to “The Good Wife, Identity and What it Means to be Good”


  1. Best of TV Costuming 2014: The Good Wife and Grieving | TV Ate My Wardrobe - December 9, 2014

    […] who he has previously cheated on Alicia with), Alicia is yet to do anything beyond flirtation (with Lost’s Nestor Carbonell and Finn). One thing that is worth noting about Finn is that he saw her in her most vulnerable […]

  2. Feeling Bad on The Good Wife | TV Ate My Wardrobe - March 2, 2015

    […] is far from the first time we have talked about this idea of being good nor is it the first time Alicia has discussed it in such an overt manner as she does at the end of […]

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