The Good Wife: Alicia Florrick vs. the World

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The Good Wife S03E19: "Blue Ribbon Panel"

You could argue that every episode of The Good Wife is a showcase for Julianna Margulies’ talents, and you wouldn’t be wrong. In the role of Alicia Florrick, the series has given her so much range to explore—she remains one of the most well-drawn characters on television, particularly on a non-cable network.

But Sunday’s episode was an especially good one for Margulies, in that it forced Alicia to confront the perfect storm of family and career. It also highlighted her outsider status: No matter how many steps forward feminism takes, Alicia is still regarded as a “token female.” She may be on equal footing at Lockhart-Gardner, but in many ways, the law is still a boys’ club. That much was clear when the blue-ribbon panel used Alicia’s husband against her: She is an accomplished lawyer in her own right, but she’s still Peter Florrick’s wife in so many people’s eyes.

No matter how hard Alicia pushes, she’s repeatedly undermined. In the blue-ribbon panel, she butted heads with Mike Kresteva, played by Matthew Perry working extra hard to be unlikeable. The more Alicia dug into the case they were reviewing—going above and beyond what she should be doing as a member of the panel—the more Mike worked against her. The Good Wife is adept at pitting characters in conflict with one another, because these are all very intelligent, cunning people. They’re intellectual equals, and that makes the fight far more exciting to watch.

Moving on from Alicia for a moment, the case itself was fascinating: an officer being investigated for shooting a (possibly unarmed) black man. The timing is uncanny, as the country continues to respond to the recent killing of Trayvon Martin. Even more uncanny: The officer accused of planting a gun on the victim was named Zimmerman, just like Martin’s killer. Eerie coincidences aside, this was a depressing but likely accurate perspective on the bureaucracy behind crimes like this. There’s more to the law than simple justice—a sobering point The Good Wife continues to integrate into its storylines.

But back to Alicia: The episode also found a way to integrate her family life into the plot, as Alicia moved forward with her attempt to purchase her old house. I loved the conflict within her flashbacks—a mix of fond memories and memories she’d rather repress. Like the court case, but with admittedly lower stakes, the moral here also seemed to be that sometimes life isn’t fair. Alicia’s emotional plea to the current owners was a step toward ownership, but in the end, money made all the difference. And now Alicia will be forced to wrestle control from a mother-in-law who doesn’t care for her much.

“Nothing’s simple, is it?” Alicia asked Mike. It might seem like an obvious point, but it’s one The Good Wife makes so well week after week. We’re used to legal procedurals where the story gets wrapped up within the hour—and more often than not, the good guys win. Sunday’s episode challenged us beyond that: Can Alicia continue to ignore her morals for the sake of Peter’s eventual run for governor? At some point soon, the “good wife” might need to rid herself of her husband entirely. That pesky conflict of interest is costing her too much.


Questions:

– What did you think of Matthew Perry’s debut as Mike Kresteva?

– How would you have ruled if you were on the blue-ribbon panel?

– Will Jackie turn the house over to Alicia?

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