If you’re not watching “The Good Wife,” you should be. It’s done something series rarely do—become better in its fifth season than it was in its first and its first was a winner. What started out as an exploration of the woman who stands by her bad man has now started questioning how long that woman will stay good. It’s a surprising, thought-provoking, funny, sexy show that is well worth your viewing time.
Thanks to great writing, it’s easy to jump into the action this season but here’s a quick recap for those of you who haven’t been watching since the beginning. The “good wife” of the title is Alicia Florrick (Julianna Marguiles), a lawyer who gave up her career to raise a family and support her state attorney husband Peter (Chris Noth). Peter gets in trouble with the law and his libido, goes to jail and eventually makes a comeback all the way to the governor’s mansion. Peter’s downfall forces Alicia back to work but it also makes her examine her choices. As she rises through the ranks of law firm Lockhart/Gardner, she has a brief relationship with her former law school flame and current boss, Will Gardner (Josh Charles). Along the way, Alicia tries cases that test her political, social and moral views.
After an uneven season four, when the series unsuccessfully delved into investigator Kalinda’s (Archie Panjabi) personal life, “The Good Wife” returns in season five with a major plot shake-up. Alicia and her co-worker Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry), along with most of the senior litigators, secretly plan to start a firm—with clients they steal from Lockhart/Gardner. The scene where Will discovers the secret is explosive and he declares war on his former lover and her new firm.
Has Alicia gone to the dark side? It’s not a simple answer and that’s what makes this season so compelling. Is she justified in embracing the power of her growing independence? Or are her choices simply a reflection of the worst parts of the firm she is leaving? Alicia takes pleasure in the war with Lockhart/Gardner. It’s a battle that has not only revitalized a character who was in danger of becoming stale but given new life to a series that was losing interest in its central conflict.
Previously at stake for Alicia was her identity as it related to her relationship with Peter. Who is she without him? Does her goodness lie in her loyalty? Or in her ability to be a caring mother? After four seasons, the self-esteem crisis played itself out. Now, the conflict is about her moral center. How far will she go?
“The Good Wife” is on Sundays at 9 p.m. EDT on CBS.