Kalinda at bar in episode of The Good Wife.
Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Good Wife

I’m not a big fan of The Good Wife, but my wife likes it so I watch it with her. The show is widely perceived as being a liberal show, and it’s not widely liked by conservatives. There’s been some criticism of the show for its negative portrayals of the Tea Party movement. Now it’s sometimes the case that a viewer will see a movie or a TV show and come away from it with a different interpretation than the auteur intended. I think this was the case with Heaven’s Above, which I see as pointing up the necessity of markets as a way of regulating greed, and which the film-makers probably intended as a satire on the failure of Christians to live up to their creed. Actually, Heaven’s Above, permits both interpretations though the Boulting brothers may not have perceived it.

In the case of The Good Wife we have to bear in mind that:

  1. Shakespeare was right about lawyers.
  2. While the conservative character is named McVeigh, and a comment about his relation to Timothy McVeigh was made in his initial episode, it was also made clear that he had no truck with Timothy McVeigh’s politics.
  3. There are no masculine characters in the show, outside of the conservative. Most of them are somewhat effeminate, metrosexual at best. Will, for example, is unable to declare his love for Alicia, and has sex with another woman. The old machismo of a Bogart or a Cagney is not evident here. The only exception is the conservative character.
  4. There is a general sort of cluelessness in some of the characters. This is particularly true when it comes to religion. Alicia reacts to the idea of Christianity as if she were a Roman matron of 150 AD whose daughter had just joined a strange cult. Peter’s mother had no idea how to act around Jews. Come on. In this day and age most of us know enough not to offer pigs-in-a-blanket to our Jewish friends and acquaintances.
  5. The daughter is also quite clueless. She is taken by the web evangelists who say that Jesus was the first rebel. This appeals to adolescents, and has the advantage, like many statements about Jesus, of being partially true, from a certain perspective. Also like many statements about Jesus, it is incomplete, and only a partial truth. The first pure rebel, and here Saul Alinsky was right, was Satan. There were also other rebels prior to Jesus. The daughter would have known this, if she had any education in history.
  6. Diane quite frankly has the hots for McVeigh.
  7. Diane likes guns. Now part of this is her desire to share a common interest with McVeigh. Part is no doubt Freudian, the gun and the bullet as phallic symbols. Part is also the feeling of power that flows from the realization that here she has a means of control, of projecting power. This in turn feeds into her need to dominate others. She is after all a senior partner in a big law firm.
  8. When McVeigh is challenged on his Tea Party affiliation, she defends him and the Tea Party from the accusation of racism by forcing the contending counsel to admit that liberals can be racists too.
  9. Diane’s native honesty causes herself to distance herself from the liberal operative who made the accusations of racism.

It may well be that as the story progresses Diane realizes that the party has left her rather than she has left the party. If that happens, then the series will have subverted the liberal assumptions that it appeared to embrace.