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Public and Private Spaces on The Good Wife

17 Nov

“I always hated it that these offices were glass.”

Private spaces are hard to come by on The Good Wife and offices made of glass windows mimic the scrutiny of Alicia’s current situation. There are few places where Alicia doesn’t have to contend with all eyes on her and one such place is her home, but even this is not entirely private as the security camera shot of Finn leaving her building reminds us. For Cary he doesn’t have the luxury of feeling safe anywhere, including his home as his life has been threatened and he’s incredibly vulnerable.

The Good Wife likes to play with different locations and once again elevators are used to great effect to show a variety of emotional states. “Sticky Content” was written by Good Wife creators Robert and Michelle King and they are experts at producing an episode that oozes tension and forward momentum weaving both the campaign and Cary stories together.

The Good Wife 6.09Attack ads and introductory videos are the campaign order of the day with David Krumholtz joining the Florrick team as Josh Marnier, a campaign media specialist. Josh is another expert who ends up having to tell Alicia that her strategy is wrong and how she just needs to let her ideals go and let them do what they do best. Marissa Gold returns as Alicia’s bodywoman and all round voice of reason/snark. So far Alicia has been a pretty terrible candidate and she should have gone to Johnny straight away with the shoe box of dirt rather than stewing over it with an Alicia sized glass of wine; no matter how much will power she possesses, she was always going to crack. Like Johnny I am pretty cynical of Prady’s motives as this comes across as a manipulative power move wrapped up in an ‘oh shucks, I’m just a good guy’ routine. And it works as the first envelope sends Alicia into a mini tailspin. The Finn and Will (*sob*) photos don’t have an impact; it’s the ones of Peter and Ramona that sticks the needle in.

Alicia is all about control so when something disrupts this she tends to react in two different ways; confrontation and avoidance. These normally coincide with each other so she rings Peter up to yell at him – and the manner in which he answered sounded like his voicemail – and instead arranged the sit down interview to show how happy their marriage is. The second moment comes when she pops into see Finn after the super fake all smiles and hand holding Peter interaction. What this is motivated by is anger at Peter and Ramona coupled with desire as they’ve been flirting it up a storm for weeks now. A line is about to get crossed and Alicia seems somewhat relieved when she finds his office empty, but then he returns coffee cup in mouth and his usual super charming/attentive manner. The sofa conversation is the unlikely combination of awkward and comfortable; the warmth is there and yet there is an unspoken tension that overspills with a brief touching of hands. With Peter this gesture was empty and symbolical, here it is spontaneous and fully charged.

The Good Wife 6.09 finn's officeWhat this is reminiscent of is those moments in “Heart” and “Red Team, Blue Team” between Alicia and Will where empty office spaces and heightened emotions led to Alicia letting down her guard and allowing herself to be impulsive. Of course this is a very different set up and an interruption/realization of how public this space is causes Alicia to flee before anything more intimate can happen. The following day the weirdness of the night before is discussed and Alicia refers to the mood as “worrisome” – I think this is Alicia’s way of saying I think you’re hot but I can’t right now – and that people have expectations. It’s even more complicated than when Alicia was involved with Will and even if they want it to be simpler that’s just not happening right now. The line has been crossed as feelings have been verbalized (underneath layers and layers of subtext) and if they can find somewhere that has actual non see-through walls then maybe a conversation can be had (or something way more fun than talking).

Perhaps Alicia should take a page out of her husband’s book and improvise with the spacious car he is being driven around in. Peter rebuffs Alicia’s Ramona accusations, however it is worth nothing that he doesn’t deny having an affair with her back when they lived at Highland Park and this also supports the theory that Lauren is his child. Peter is also lying about the Ramona thing as the car smooching demonstrates. Alicia claims that she is angry not because she is jealous or that their agreement is invalid, but because this could fuck everything up for both of them. I think a small part of this is jealousy, particularly if this infidelity stems back to a time when she thought she was in a good marriage. At the same time it is very telling in how strongly she emphasizes that no, she will not be standing by his side again (“not in a million years”).

After this conversation Alicia is red dress wearing, guns blazing and she is willing to use and exploit her scandal and tragedy to sell herself in the introductory video. It sounds so incredibly fake and sincere all at once, because we know exactly how she really feels, but she’s selling to a public who don’t know her yet as the woman who went back to work in a time of hardship (she didn’t wallow) and then saw gun crime take away the person who took a chance on her when no one else would. There’s the perfect amount of misty eyes and resilience, plus she looks killer in that red dress. Until of course Prady’s mother wears the same dress in his own boohoo version of his life and why he wants to run; this is where I think the Prady campaign are being tricksy as if they did their research they know that Alicia’s power color is red. Coincidence? I think not. Or maybe I’m too cynical, but I don’t think Prady is the good clean guy he suggests he is.

the good wife 6.09 alicia's dressDigitally changing the dress doesn’t work and she ends up looking like she’s wearing a wallpaper design and trying to recapture the (fake) sincerity of the previous version falls so flat. We do get the jokey version of Alicia including why she wanted to be home with her kids “because child services said I had to be” as she eye rolls through her terrible, terrible second attempt. It’s really fun seeing Alicia sucking so much at this, not that her campaign team is reveling in this really bad performance. In the end the decision is made to just go with the same dress as it is a far better option than this new take.

A leak is to blame for the Prady DINO attack ad, which comes in response to a “Who is Alicia in bed with now?” negative commercial from the Prady PAC. This is in reference to her clients (Sweeney and Bishop), but they could also be laying the foundations for affair accusations and this question could easily apply to both work and personal matters even if it is just an insinuation.

Let’s talk about one of The Good Wife’s favorite locations:

the good wife 6.09 elevatorElevators! Here this space looks huge and it shows Alicia as contemplative and lonely after the interview reinforcing the idea of a good marriage with Peter. This is her returning to the office to go see Finn and maybe do something about their flirting in what could be considered as a retaliation move.

The Good Wife 6.09 Cary elevatorFor Cary this space is precarious as he doesn’t know what will welcome him when the doors open as he’s just heard a tape with Lemond Bishop threatening his life. It’s a tight claustrophobic, perhaps even coffin like location and at his building the shots are either in a close up or emphasizing how closed in he is. The flashes of someone with a gun coming up and shooting him add to the tension and fear. Elevators mean a whole lot on The Good Wife and we have seen them used as a place to sob alone, hook up or even as a host of awkward conversations; they can be equal parts private and public.

Cary’s home is no longer safe and in a bold move he chooses to visit Bishop in his after an encounter at the office reveals Cary’s new bodyguard (when the elevator doors opened – see you never know who is going to be on the other side) insinuating Cary has flipped. With Bishop’s son present in his home this is probably the safest place Cary could have gone to have this discussion with Bishop, but it still doesn’t stop Cary and the audience from feeling nothing but fear as Bishop’s presence alone is intimidating in any location. Cary is back on Bishop’s good side, but how long is this going to last with jail looming over Cary’s head?

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2 Responses to “Public and Private Spaces on The Good Wife”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Degrees of Caring on The Good Wife | TV Ate My Wardrobe - November 16, 2015

    […] to stop (okay still being married is a good reason I guess). She didn’t even go beyond a chaste hand touching moment with Finn and there was plenty of opportunity for that to move from flirty drinks to more. Johnny […]

  2. Paranoia Runs Wild on The Good Wife | TV Ate My Wardrobe - February 22, 2016

    […] thrown caution to the wind in what looks like the same office where she had a very chaste moment with Finn Polmar. I know there was some John shenanigans as well last season, but eh there was nowhere near the heat […]

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