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These Boots Were Made for Walking: A Few Thoughts on The Good Wife’s Departure News

16 Oct

Yesterday was pretty much the everything entertainment news days – HBO announcing plans for a standalone service, all of Friends on Netflix, NPH hosting the 2015 Oscars – but the one item that prompted the biggest response from me personally is the news that Archie Panjabi won’t be renewing her contract on The Good Wife. Rather than going the Josh Charles ‘secret exit even though we knew his contract was up for negotiation at the end of the season’ route, Panjabi has signed a development deal with Twentieth Century Fox Television which means it is time to announce her Good Wife exit.

This is a good move for Panjabi and hopefully whatever project she ends up with will serve her well. For me this news was met with an array of conflicted feelings ranging from well this makes sense considering how little Kalinda has had to do over the past few seasons to sadness that this character has really been left flailing for so long and it’s a shame they never really figured out what to do with her. It also means The Good Wife cast has got a whole lot less diverse.

The Good Wife 5.21 KalindaKalinda has been reduced to the magical case solving unicorn on The Good Wife and the person who can seduce anyone of either sex. She knows everyone and is generally the solution to narrative issues generally regarding whatever case of the week they are dealing with. Kalinda’s personal life was stomped all over when they introduced her ex-husband Nick in season 4 and while the Kings were quick to realize how much pretty much everyone who watched this show hated this character/storyline (and I still have the image of Nick smashing eggs on Kalinda’s chest etched into my mind) the damage was done. Everything after this has come across as clutching at straws with Kalinda including her several romantic relationships which tend to lean on getting some kind of professional leverage in the form of seduction. Cary is perhaps the only one who doesn’t fit this pattern; however she did use her closeness with him to get information for Will about Cary and Alicia’s exit from Lockhart Gardner resulting in trust issues between the pair.

The two people Kalinda has been closest to in a non-sexual capacity are Will and Alicia; Will is gone and Kalinda and Alicia haven’t shared a scene (other than over the phone) in 34 episodes. The latter friendship was destroyed when Alicia found out Kalinda had slept with Peter before they had met and while Robert and Michelle King were more than happy to dispose of Nick in a swift manner, they haven’t succumbed to the calls for Alicia and Kalinda to reconcile. Just look how good they were together.

kalinda and aliciaA complex, close friendship can be just as compelling as a romantic connection and the breakdown of platonic love can be just as heart ripping out sad as the end of a passionate union. Lady friendships that don’t include petty jealousy or arguments over dudes are still too far and few between on television and even though this one ended because of a guy, prior to this it included all the tequila/beer drinking and the kind of strong rapport that makes this kind of pairing so special. Kalinda is part of the reason why Alicia grew more self-assured and confident in her abilities. The dissolution of their friendship also goes some ways to explain why both of them are pretty prickly and wary when it comes to getting close to someone new; they let down their guard with each other and got hurt in the process. Just thinking about Kalinda’s elevator sobbing after Alicia found out breaks me. Without Will or Alicia, Kalinda has been set adrift in a sea of flirtation and trying to figure out whether there is an ulterior motive to the actions of the person she is interacting with.

Alicia has also lost Will and Kalinda, but instead of reducing her to one aspect of her character she has thrived since (although I still think she needs more friends) and she does have a few drinking buddies she can trust on hand. Plus Alicia is never going find herself as a story afterthought; she is the title character after all.

The Good Wife 5.21 Diane and KalindaLeather jackets, knee high boots and a notebook at hand (okay the above photo only has two out of three) are the Kalinda signature; however a character needs much more than costuming and props to be a fully formed thing and there’s been this constant struggle to find the right fit for her. So yes I am sad Archie Panjabi is departing, but I hope this means they will give her a kickass story to end on and hopefully one last shot of tequila with her former best friend (even if she disagrees with the ‘best’ part).


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