Tuesday, March 22, 2016
The Good Wife, "Shoot" And A Love-Hate Relationship
When I watch TV, it's for either character or story. For example, I'm wading through The Tudors to see how the writers and actors (and costumers and lighting designers) handle an extraordinary, contradictory story about vivid, vital characters caught in an inexorable plot. I mean, come on, how many of us could invent the swirl of religion, politics, medical conditions, love and lust that is the story of the Tudor dynasty from beginning--Henry V's widow, parked in a remote castle, yet boldly (and secretly) marrying her Welsh head-of-horse--to end? (The death of Elizabeth I.)
The Good Wife, at its best, has created that same maelstrom of politics, character, religion, love and lust. And if they weren't precisely starting a new Reformation, they were illuminating our times by leaping into the story of Eliot Spitzer and Silda, his miserable wife, pinned to the background by the TV camera's light as she stood beside her (sick) man.
The Good Wife's idea--to follow this destroyed woman, holding herself together by sheer martyrdom, self-destruction and grit, as she fought to become herself again. At it's best, The Good Wife has been about Alicia's battle to first find herself (again), then to make a real relationship with her husband, and ultimately, to find a way to exist as herself out in the world.
In fact, in my memory, one of the best and most telling moments of The Good Wife was a fleeting one, where Alicia bumps into an old, once-dear friend, who has never called since the scandal broke. "We have to get together," the old friend says. "And do lunch."
"Yes," says Alicia, as she turns away, before stopping in her tracks to turn back. "No. Let's not. We know we won't anyway. Let's be real here." The new Alicia is not willing to waste time on pleasantries. She wants to cut to the truth.
The question is, how to find that truth?
As a lawyer, Alicia has long since found her way. No one, anymore, questions her ability to practice law.
As an ethical human being, she is sliding through a world of gray, becoming grayer herself all the time.
As a woman in relationship to other women, she has lost her one-time friendship with the ethically questionable, sexually variable, Kalinda Sharma--the one with the liquid eyes and the high boots even in a Chicago summer.
Alicia still has virtually no friendships beyond a growing one with the equally damaged Lucca Quinn, (she of the liquid eyes and the sometime boots.) Though this friendship seems to require the consumption of alcohol.
Her relationship with Will seemed to that she shared with Peter. Again, she chose a demanding man, a political figure, willing to fight dirty, and one who is willing to have an affair with another man's wife, and one who, when he thinks he has lost this woman, runs to post-teenaged lasses with multiple tattoos and wanderlust. Beware the man who cheats on anybody, but beware especially the man in his forties who falls for twentyish yoga instructors. This is a man who needs to have control in his relationships. If you are dating, and you meet him, run, run, run, the other way.
Will also was willing to destroy the woman he once loved after he felt she had betrayed him in a business sense. Whatever he was, and whatever relationship Alicia might have had with him, I doubt it would have lasted long.
So, here is Alicia. She has taken on her husband's political willingness to do what it takes to win. (Note the way she uses ill-gotten information to sway a grand juror in this last segment.) She is still drinking too much. She has accepted a marriage in name only, purely for political gain. She has chosen, yet again, Jason, a dangerous man who she has been warned is a psychopath, and who gives off a cheating vibe.
And in this last episode, when she learns that, yes, he is cheating, she stifles the pain that clearly she feels, decides to follow Lucca's advice and trust or care for no one, is willing to have a purely sexual relationship with a dangerous man, and starts drinking again.
Okay. It's real. She becomes a bully. She becomes her husband. It just makes me sad.