Monday, April 22, 2013

What The Good Wife Needs To Do About Will and Peter

I am one of many women who have become addicted to The Good Wife, a show that actually has a lot of female writers and a bevy of three dimensional, complicated female characters played by talented actresses. It's hard to find shows that don't reduce women to tropes, and The Good Wife has the added bonus of a bisexual character and gay character, both of which are not terribly stereotyped.

But I digress. From the beginning, the show has been set up to display a rivalry between two men, Will Gardner and Peter Florrick; who I would argue are the least interesting characters on the show. They need to be on the show because they are representative of the cutthroat environment that is politics or the practice of law in Chicago. But the rivalry between them is dull because they are the same breed. Whenever I think of a perfect love triangle, I think of men who are very different from each other. Rhett Butler and Ashley Wilkes are the perfect foil of each other. To some degree, Peter Florrick and Will Gardner are both Rhett Butler: smart, shrewd and well dressed men who tend to play outside the rules because they think the rules don't apply to them. Hey, one of them even cavorts with prostitutes!

I wondered what could be done to make the show more interesting, because as it is, the show relies on a stereotype about women, even though so much of it is groundbreaking. Alicia has developed as a lawyer, as a mother and as a person in general. Yet her destiny on the show is defined by her relationship with these powerful, albeit dull, men. She is interesting enough on her own. She is involved in intellectually challenging cases and power rivalries at work. The ultimate season finale that I'm looking for? No! Series finale? Alicia doesn't choose Will or Peter. She chooses herself. The series finale ends with her sitting down in a big comfy chair whilst drinking a glass of wine after a long day of whooping ass in court. It would be a much more original ending than anyone would have expected.

Originally I thought Alicia would do well to meet a third man, maybe a man totally disconnected from the firm or Chicago politics. Shocker: What if he weren't a lawyer? What if he worked in a bookstore? What if he was a high school math teacher? But that is unlikely to happen. A certain segment of the audience needs to believe that the ultimate dream of a woman as successful as Alicia will always be to attach herself to the wealthiest or most powerful (or both) man in the room. Either way, if the writers of The Good Wife don't take advantage of this chance to tell a lesson about Alicia's growth I'm going to be very disappointed. But a girl can still dream of a Cary Agos and Kalinda Sharma wedding.

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