The Struggle is Politics: The Good Wife and Compromise

27 Oct

At one point in “Old Spice” Alicia comments that she “doesn’t like pretending to be someone she is not” as a result of the religion focused interview she has just taken part in. The question of who Alicia is or rather who Alicia wants to be (or even who she is perceived to be) is at the heart of The Good Wife from the title of the show itself to every move we have seen Alicia make from first-year associate to starting her own firm.

Alicia’s life has been entangled with politics since Peter entered this professional sphere, but it is the opening scene of her standing next to her disgraced husband that blurred the line between public and private; while we have seen glimpses of who she was prior to this our relationship to her has been primarily from this moment onward and it was only from this point that the press really cared about who Alicia Florrick is. Now there is a new update to the Alicia Florrick story and the media went crazy for the next chapter in Alicia’s life as she takes a leap from lawyer to political candidate.

the good Wife 6.06 interviewThere is a lot of talk about honesty this week as Alicia struggles with the idea of lying about her faith (or lack thereof) to secure votes and this ends up not only compromising her, but also Grace who has been helping her brush up on her religious knowledge (treating it like courtroom prep). It’s a bad position to be put in and when Alicia ponders whether she should simply refuse to answer the question she gets told there is no way around this; “it is none of your business” is not an option to this personal question, even if it should be enough. It is an interview that could sink or swim her campaign, a campaign she has only just entered and if she told the truth about her atheist stance as she has done in the past then she is torpedoing her campaign before it has even begun. Alicia complains to Johnny that the “political rules keep changing” but the religious question is one that has been prevalent for some time now and I’m surprised Alicia is surprised her lack of religion will be an issue (it shouldn’t be, but here we are).

Alicia talks of a struggle and when Grace presses the question wondering what this struggle is exactly; Alicia’s answer is “Politics.” Alicia doesn’t feel the need for God or faith and this circles back to her answer a few weeks ago about why she became a lawyer:

“I like clarity. I like rules.”
“And you wanted to help people with those rules.”
“No. I know I’m supposed to say yes. I just wanted to be inside something that made sense to me. I never thought about—”

This is a pragmatic answer rather than an empathetic one and Alicia tends to work at things from this angle including her reasoning last season for why she ended things with Peter aside from their marriage as a political tool bump “It’s a decision. I like decisions.” This is pretty much Alicia’s mantra on life as she likes to know what the boundaries are and it is why she is thrown when someone is dishonest with her from Kalinda’s long ago betrayal to Zach’s more recent indiscretion and subsequent cover up. Now she is making these compromises herself and while this walking around the religion question by claiming she is open to the idea of it, is of course a barefaced lie it means she is still a viable candidate which is of course the goal of this entire exercise. There are two points where Alicia bristles during the interview; the first is when Will gets brought up and she doesn’t deny that she searched for faith at this time. Instead the opposite is true as when Grace approached her mother and told her that Will was with God now, Alicia rejected this notion and the idea of why this tragedy happened.

The second moment of looking uncomfortable during this interview and attempting to sidestep the question is when Grace is referenced and it is one thing twisting the truth entirely about her own beliefs, but it is clear she feels extra shitty when her daughter’s beliefs/guidance is mentioned. It’s not like Alicia can come clean to using her daughter as a religious cheat sheet for both this interview and earlier this season for a case. Grace gets praised at her Bible group and she looks extra guilty for this lie she is caught up in as her friends are so happy she has ‘reached’ her mother. Grace uses the same ‘struggling’ euphemism to sidestep how she reached her ‘hardened’ mother and this further compromises Grace.

the good Wife 6.06 Alicia and GraceAlicia’s ability to answer these questions without committing too much to anything shows she is already learning one of the all important tricks to the trade, in fact it is something she has been good at for a long time; it’s just she doesn’t normally have to use her daughter to notch up a win. Whenever Peter has run for anything Alicia has always been insistent that their kids are not involved and inadvertently both Zach (because of the oppo research) and Grace are already part of the SA campaign. It was inevitable that they would be a fixture of questioning and sadly the family/work balance is a question a woman is more likely to get than a male candidate and her role as mother/wife is something that will be taken into consideration even if it has nothing to do with the position she is running for.

The Saint Alicia brand has nothing to do with religion of course, but it would be a dent in that persona if she had stuck to her atheist guns and I can’t help but wonder when the other accusations of infidelity are going to be unleashed. My money is still on some kind of iCloud hacking ‘ripped from the headlines’ scenario.

Elsewhere, Cary is still getting himself into bother as he technically breaks his bail conditions landing himself a list of stricter terms including a ban from interacting with Kalinda; this is what she gets for calling him “the most honest person I know.” If Cary is going to break any of these restrictions this is going to be the one. Alicia hasn’t been very present at work and particularly with Cary as she wasn’t even aware that he had been rearrested until the next day and despite their many recent disagreements she refuses his suggestion of taking a break from work; in it together and all that. There is a lot on Alicia’s plate at the moment and as the season/her campaign progress I wonder what will fall by the wayside first.

While it was a meandering episode for the most part and even though I love Elsbeth I am finding it hard to care about the case she is part of or even the flirtation/hook-up with the just as kooky Josh Perotti. Except for the part where she got him with the single party consent, which was pretty awesome. Oh and every frilly shirt is an Elsbeth costuming dream.

The end is what really sells this episode and the return to their former Lockhart Gardner (& Canning) offices that have been trashed by the previous inhabitants (taking all the ‘F,’ ‘A’ and ‘L’ from the keyboards) is full of former ghosts and references to where they have come from.

the good wife 6.06 AliciaInsisting that Alicia takes her old office, Diane is turned down and there is something fitting about Alicia taking the office that holds so much meaning. I had reservations about the return to this office space, but the look shared between Alicia and Diane as she sits at what was once Will’s desk it is enough to convince me that this isn’t regression at all. This is all through very misty eyes of course and I don’t know why I hadn’t considered who would get Will’s office, but this hit me like a sucker punch of emotions. His name isn’t even uttered in this episode; however his presence is clearly felt.

The Good Wife 6.06 DianeDiane standing defiant in her office while wearing yet another magnificent pin is something I will never get bored with; she thought she was doing the kind thing by offering to take Will’s former work abode by suggesting she needs a new start, but she sees Alicia will be more than fine in these surroundings. The slight mirroring between Alicia and Diane in this scene comes in part from their attire as both are working a zipped look, with Diane’s No. 35 jacket being far more showy with fur cuffs and trimmings than Alicia’s Akris belted grey dress and this fits their style as Diane tends to lean towards opulent detail whereas Alicia sticks to clean lines. Emotions are running high for both women and it is a big moment for them and us as an audience watching this exchange.

The Alicia we met in that pilot episode is so far removed from the one we see now and while Diane has been an influence on her, Will’s impact was far more than just romantic and when Alicia references how different things are from six years ago in her interview Will is a big part of that. Returning to the place where she started is not a step back for Alicia, it might be a regression for Cary who has been pushed to the side once again as his legal problems continue. Cary has always played second fiddle in these offices and it is understandable why he voted against moving back here no matter how many infrastructure problems their current home has. All control is getting wrestled away and while Alicia reassures him that they are in this together with him tucked away in David Lee’s former office and Alicia being so close to Diane they are aligned in both proximity and most recently with their decision making. Cary is the one making all the work compromises and it probably won’t be long before Cary makes a terrible hook-up decision as he did in “Old Spice.”



2 Responses to “The Struggle is Politics: The Good Wife and Compromise”


  1. Who is the Hypocrite on The Good Wife? | TV Ate My Wardrobe - November 3, 2014

    […] Last week I discussed compromise and how Alicia had to make certain omissions about her belief system (in that she is an atheist and yet claimed otherwise during an interview) to stay in this race. Who is the hypocrite now? Even though it didn’t sit well with her, she still went ahead and played along using Grace for religious prep and citing a ‘struggle’ when it comes to religion; really the struggle is with politics. Alicia and family are two disconnected entities at the moment so when Frank talks about the Florrick family sitting at the dinner table talking politics this image seemed far from anything we have ever seen. Have we ever seen them have a dinner with just the four of them? If so it was very long ago as on other occasions Jackie or Veronica have been present and it has been chaos. Relationships are fraught as their marriage is a sham and Zach got an earful over the phone a few weeks ago regarding the abortion that Alicia only became aware of during oppo research. The abortion is referenced this week during interview prep and rather than giving the restrained answer, Alicia lets rip at Johnny (who is role playing as Prady) showing the full force of why you don’t go after Alicia Florrick’s family. This is something they can work with as controlled passion is fine, but don’t say ‘horseshit’ (which of course gets blanked out and in doing so it drives this point home). BS is fine. […]

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

    […] moral order of the highest with her Saint Alicia nickname, but behind the scenes she makes compromise after compromise; first with her position on religion and this week with the money she will take to give her […]

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