This season of The Good Wife just hasn’t worked for me. That’s a sad sentence for me to write, in fact it’s taken me about half a dozen attempts to realise that was the sentence that my review needed to start with. I’ve gone through multiple variations of openings which started with saying how good The Good Wife usually is and then noting that this season fell short, but I have to acknowledge that I’m just burying the lead. This season of The Good Wife was not as good as it has been, or as it should be. Something has gone off track.
I can even spot exactly where the moment was that it got lost, it was when Alicia decided to run for State’s Attorney. That was the moment that the writers made a bad choice and (not to be overly dramatic or anything) I’m not sure the show can come back from it. Because after that poor choice, the writers just kept compounding it and digging the hole deeper and deeper.
The “road not taken” was the one where we saw Alicia and Diane commit to rallying around Cary to clear his name. The three of them would then spend the rest of the season building their firm, united against the corruption in the State’s Attorney office and police dept that led to Cary’s arrest in the first place. Cary and Alicia, becoming the new Will and Diane under the ‘old’ Diane’s guidance. That would have been something to see. Something I wanted to watch.
But instead they split everyone apart. Even when there were chances for them to come together the writers jumped through hoops to stop the characters connecting and talking to each other like professionals with a history, respect and even fondness for each other.
Basically this whole season felt like the writers taunting us with brief glimpses of what could be. Alicia as State’s Attorney, Alicia and Finn working together, Alicia returning to her firm. All waved in front of us and then taken away. At each juncture, the explanation for why we couldn’t have what we wanted was poorly handled and didn’t hold up to scrutiny at all. It was a cruel trick, and the only thing they leave us with at the end is the possibility of Alicia partnering up with Canning. Really? Ugh.
Although the overall plot has been a frustrating disappointment the episodic writing and acting has never let me down. While the writers have struggled to work out where they want their characters and how to get them there, the dots along the way have been as strong as ever. The core cast are as usual without fault, guest stars create fully rounded, fascinating characters in just seconds. David Hyde Pierce heads the list, making an exceptionally welcome return to television as the only good thing about Alicia’s State’s Attorney race, Oliver Platt follows a close second.
I don’t know where The Good Wife is going to go next year, and for the first time ever, I’m actually not excited about the options. The possibilities that were floated (Alicia partnering with Canning on a vendetta against Diane and Cary, Peter running for president, Alicia writing a memoir) all sound like very weak options compared to the route that we could have been on. I actually feel betrayed by people I thought I could trust. The Good Wife was the beacon of light on American network television, and they’ve let everyone down.