The CBS lawyer drama The Good Wife, is so smart and politically incorrect, that it’s hard to believe it is on one of the dinosaur broadcast networks. In fact, the only television series I have seen be this smart and brutally honest about big-city politics is The Wire—a comparison I don’t make lightly.
This is not the first—or even the second—time I have commented on this very popular show, But a recent episode called The VIP Treatment, in which “the world’s most popular Democrat” who happens to be a Nobel Peace Prize winner is accused of assaulting a masseuse and leftists employ the argument, “Who cares what he does to a particular lower class woman, look what he does for women,” took “ripped from the headlines” in a direction Law and Order would never consider following.
While the show’s main protagonist, (Alicia Florrick, played by Julliana Marguiles) who has had her own experiences with a high profile profile public figure caught up in a sex scandal—her husband (Chris Noth)—is sympathetic, her firm’s senior partner, Diane Lockhart (a brilliant Christine Baranski) suspects the aggrieved woman is a “Republican plant.”
However, sheer power politics come into play as Alicia’s husband is offered an endorsement in his race for Cook County DA if he can get his wife to drop the case; and Lockhart gets a call from no less than the wife of the “great man” arguing that the masseuse is nothing compared to her husband’s good liberal work.
If this were Law and Order, you just know the wronged woman would be a money hungry tool of evil conservatives; but at the very least the cynical motives of the Left putting The People over a person would most certainly not be the theme.
Most refreshingly, in The Good Wife the words “Democrat” and “Republican” are used, not left to the imagination in the weird, stilted way of most shows—which tend to only use Republican when identifying a villain. In a show based in Chicago, it’s just stupid not to mention which party runs the political machine.
As I’ve discussed, this show has a recurring very smart heroic character played by Gary Cole who is a Sarah Palin fan; and an episode in which Lockhart loses an endorsement from the Cook County Democrats because she dared to question the racial and ethical motives of a liberal judge—and such things are not unusual in the show’s milieu. Even prolifers are treated with equanimity.
But with the campaign of Peter Florrick for DA, this show has kicked it into another gear. The Al Gore—oops, did I say that out loud?—episode also took place around a high society political dinner with pretentious and politically correct “artistic” entertainment going on in the background that was worthy of Tom Wolfe; while the wooing of Democrat interest groups from black churches to gays to Jews is dealt with frankly and smartly.
This, along with a consistently, but not showy, visual style is no doubt in at least part due to the producers, Ridley and Tony Scott. I have no idea what their politics are, Tony doesn’t have much in the way of liberal cred. He is known for ultra-violent thrillers, often starring Denzel Washington, and all of which have Christian symbolism scattered throughout… and can anyone say Top Gun? Ridley has at least 2 movies that show up in nearly all conservative favorite films lists: Black Hawk Down, and Gladiator– but he was also responsible for G.I Jane and Thelma and Louise.
But that unpredictability plays to dramatic advantage and The Good Wife is the better for it.
There may have been another broadcast show that did politics as well as The Good Wife. But for the life of me, I can’t think of what it could have been.
But I gotta admit, with my absolute contempt for any politician—of ANY party or political stripe—who drags his wife out to be a human shield at the confessional press conference, this is still my favorite all time scene from The Good Wife: