I was excited about seeing "The Good Wife" (tonight, 10 p.m.) because it's got Chris Noth, Juliana Margulies, and because living in the age of the wayward political husband (with recent revelations, our own John Edwards now owns the crown of worse husband on the face of the Earth), the wife at the podium seems great fodder for a dramatic approach.
After all, wasn't that Elizabeth Edwards interview with Oprah both heartbreaking and illuminating? And what was more dramatic than watching Jenny Sanford fight for and then (wisely) abandon her marriage while her spirit was still in tact?
So, I was primed for "The Good Wife."
Turns out, it wasn't exactly what I expected. It starts with Chris Noth as bad husband Peter Florrick on the podium, denying he did anything illegal and talking about healing his family. And then, it skips forward 6 months; he's in jail and Alicia Florrick is jumping back into law, a career she abandoned to be the good wife.
Then it turns into the your basic courtroom procedural.
But in ways both understated and perceptive, the writers show what it's like for a woman who has been married to a powerful and fallen man. Colleagues and acquaintances constantly judge Alicia by her husband. She learns the enemies he's made, the people who her husband has stepped on or over on his way up. The good wife not only has to reclaim her life, she has to reclaim her identity.
There's a great moment, too, at that podium. Each time one of these betrayals happen, a friend of mine and I discuss how the wife decides what to wear for the husband's apology speech. It may be a silly discussion in a way, but in a moment of crisis it's the kind of detail one thinks about to distract from the horror unfolding. Alicia Florrick has that kind of moment on the show.
"The Good Wife" is very CBS; I'm not sure I could see it on any other network. I hope during the course of this season we'll see what happened in those 6 months they skipped; the emotional journey that helped the good wife get up out of the bed and move forward.
And I hope there are enough imaginative people on the writing staff to tell stories exploring the good wife's life beyond one season.