Monday, May 09, 2016
THE GOOD WIFE Roundtable
Ty: THE GOOD WIFE aired it's final episode on CBS tonight, Sunday night. We're doing a roundtable on the show and what it meant -- if anything. Participating in our roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's me, Ty; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. You are reading a rush transcript.
Ty (Con't): Marcia, you want to do the overview?
Marcia: Sure. In the fall of 2009, this hour long show starring Julianna Margulies began airing. As it completes its seventh season, it completes its run. The show revolved around Alicia who was married to Peter Florrick -- played by Chris North -- who was a politician caught having an affair. Does she stand by her husband? Does she have her own identity? Is there any reason to care about her?
Ty: And was there? Ruth?
Ruth: For a few seasons, yes. For a few. But she became insufferable. And Ms. Margulies off camera difficulty with Emmy winner Archie Panjabi who played Kalinda went a long way towards destroying any good will she had with audiences.
Ann: Well Kalina was a person of color in an all White cast. And when she was sidelined, that really hurt the series. When she was then fired, that hurt the show more. When it was learned that the White Princess Margulies would not even film a scene with her at the bar -- it had to be shot with them on the set at different times -- that really screamed White entitlement.
Ty: Stan, you were blogging about the show weekly and stepped away around this time.
Stan: Yes, I did. This was a show made by 'well meaning liberals.' And yet, as Ann pointed out, the regular cast was all White except for Archie Panjabi. And she was hugely popular. The actress was wonderful in the role. But there was so much racism. Most obviously in the use of an actor to play a drug lord -- an African-American male. They can't make an African-American male a regular lawyer on the show but they can make him a drug lord. Time and again, well meaning intentions were betrayed by unacknowledged racism.
Rebecca: Which really came to bear on Kalinda -- Archie Panjabi's character. Talk about that, Stan.
Stan: The show runners turned on Kalinda. They came up with this 'great' story. They just knew it was groundbreaking. Kalinda's husband returns. And she is sexually attracted to him when -- pay attention here -- he beats her.
Rebecca: She was in an abusive relationship where her husband beat her and she escaped that. Now he returns and she's supposed to be turned on by his violence against her.
Ann: It was disgusting.
Stan: And again, racist. The only person of color in the regular cast is the one who wants to be beaten, who gets horny from being beaten. Not "the good wife," but the person of color. It was disgusting and went a long way towards explaining what show runners Robert King and Michelle King really thought of people of color. They're the exotic 'other,' the savages turned on by violence. It was so insulting and so racist.
Rebecca: And the response? The audience was outraged, rightly. But the Kings didn't acknowledge their mistake. They had a hissy fit and punished Kalinda fans by sidelining her.
Marcia: I am so appalled that this show was so widely praised and that there was so little effort to criticize it for its awful portrayals of race. I also felt it was the biggest waste of time ever. In the end, what was Alicia? Old and wrinkled. Still pathetic. She'd given up her chance with Jason. She was still pathetic. More wrinkles and still pathetic.
Betty: And the wig. The Good Wig. How can we not talk about that?
Ty: Go ahead.
Betty: People were praising Margulies as Becky Good Hair and then, around season five, Margulies reveals she's worn a wig in every episode.
Ann: And it was a bad wig in the final season.
Betty: It was. It was so bad.
Trina: I hated Diane Lockhart. Christine Baranski is a one note actress who throws every line into the roof of her mouth. I couldn't stand her. She betrayed Alicia repeatedly. And in the end, her last scene with Alicia? Their last scene together is Diane slapping Alicia and Alicia taking it. What a pathetic embarrassment Alica Florrick was. Diane hated her from day one, felt she was only there because Will GArdner had the hots for her and, once Will died, Diane was still working against Alicia unless she felt she could use her. Alicia was pathetic.
Ann: I can't stand Diane and I can't stand the actress that played her. I hate her on BIG BANG THEORY, I hate her on everything.
Ty: Other than Kalinda, what characters did you like on the show?
Ruth: Eli. Eli was a good character. Usually not very sympathetic. Always felt he was supposed to be Rahm Emanuel. But he was an interesting character. And Alan Cumming did a great job playing the part.
Wally: I'd agree. Other than Archia Panjabi's Kalinda, my favorite was Matt Czuchry's Cary. Cary was a really important character and the failure of the show to grasp that -- repeatedly -- was embarrassing.
Stan: Like when they had him on trial. That was just nonsense.
Ty: What about the kids -- Alicia and Peter had two children -- Zach and Grace.
Stan: The show lost its way repeatedly. That was especially clear in the last three episodes. Zach, in college, has fallen in love and plans to marry. He's going to move to Paris with her and Alicia has a fit insisting that with Peter on trial -- again! -- Zach has to put his life on hold. But in the final episode tonight, she has a fit when Grace postpones moving to California because her dad's on trial. It made no sense at all.
Ty: The show had a lot of guest stars. Anyone especially stand out?
Betty: Martha Plimpton. She played Patti Nyholm and she was wonderful.
Ty: She won an Emmy for the role.
Wally: And deserved it. I also liked Parker Posey as Eli's ex-wife Vanessa. And of course, the Vanessa.
Betty: Vanessa Williams. She had a small role in season seven as Courtney Paige and I was really pissed that there was no effort for her and Eli to have a final scene.
Stan: And Vanessa was wonderful in that role but that's what they did with people of color -- bring them on for a few episodes and then disappear them. And we only got them because some of us were brave enough to call out the never ending Whiteness of this show.
Ty: So the show finally ended tonight. What did you think?
Trina: Again, not impressed. Alicia was actually more pathetic than when the show started and getting slapped by Diane and being left alone?
Wally: It really was disappointing.
Rebecca: I'd argue the show should have been called THE GOOD DOOR MAT and should have ended when Will died.
Ty: But he was on the last episode in flashbacks and fantasy scenes.
Betty: Which was the biggest waste of time. Will's dead, why did he get so much air time. It also drove home who wasn't there: Kalinda.
Marcia: I thought the show as overhyped but often entertaining. This episode was just nonsense. Peter resigns as governor, goes on one year probation, Alicia chooses Jason too late and he's gone and she gets slapped. What's the point?
Wally: I kept waiting for them to rally in the court room with some way of proving Peter innocent. I really wanted that because that would have allowed Alicia to stop worrying about Peter and focus on building a life with Jason.
Ruth: And that is true and it is true that Kalinda was also lost and forgotten but Eli was on the episode and he had what, one scene? After all the importance he has had on the show, that is all the time they gave him? They should have brought Vanessa Williams back on, like we were saying earlier, to give Eli a happy ending. But no one got a happy ending. Certainly not the audience.
Ann: It really was a screw you ending. A big screw you to the audience.
Rebecca: It was a potboiler that lost the ability to keep things boiling. The show went out as an embarrassment.
Ty: And that's it. Unless, two years from now, when Margulies can't find another role, CBS decides to do series of TV movies. But that's it, that's our verdict on THE GOOD WIFE.