Sex scandals and politicians go together like peanut butter and jelly. You really know you’re at the top of the political world when the entire country gives a shit about your unlawful sex life. But while the cameras flash and the tabloids spew out the dirty details, few people stop to think of those affected by it beyond doling out the obligatory statement: “Poor Mrs. Politician and her kids.”
“The Good Wife”
Tuesdays at 10 p.m.
CBS explores this untouched area in its new show “The Good Wife,” which takes a look at the other side of the political sex scandals.
Non-descript political figure Peter Florrick (Chris Noth, “Sex and the City”) has a couple wild nights with a hooker, and chaos ensues when the world finds out. Peter lands himself in jail for being involved in non-descript corruption and suddenly his wife, Alicia (Julianna Margulies, “ER”) has to provide for the household, protect their children from the media and mend her broken heart. She returns to her old law firm with the intention of bringing in some more income and finds many cases awaiting her.
This shit storm results in an odd but effective blending of legal and family drama. Legal drama is a tricky genre and “The Good Wife” doesn’t quite pull it off. It’s commendable because viewers don’t need to watch the show regularly — they can always just tune in and watch a bunch of suits expose the real criminal in a stabbing case. But it’s not so kind to rabid viewers, because those who choose to watch the show regularly are neglected — every time they tune in it’s a bunch of suits exposing the real criminal in yet another stabbing case.
“The Good Wife” adds the element of an overarching storyline. It’s more compelling to watch than the average legal drama because there is real plot advancement from week to week. Despite the excellent concept of adding soul to a stagnant genre, the execution suffers. The plot is confusing: It’s not clear who Peter Florrick actually is or why he’s in jail and it took a lot more time and effort than it should to figure out what Alicia Florrick’s first case was even about.
And with this addition of a real story comes the sacrifice of the edge and suspense that legal dramas thrive on. Essentially, “The Good Wife” is incredibly slow. The legal system isn’t always fast-paced and exciting, but if the show’s tempo doesn’t pick up, the channel will be changed long before any of the characters get to the point. There are a few biggish names in the cast and the actors play their parts convincingly, but the writing and logistics hinder what could have been a very well-constructed show.
While “The Good Wife” doesn’t have a whole lot of flaws, it doesn’t particularly stand out either. Perhaps CBS felt that the show’s hook would be relevant in today’s political world and that its concept alone would propel the show to success. But without a faster and more comprehensible plot, the show will more likely end up lost in the shuffle of the new fall lineup. The show may be able to survive if the courtroom aspect is pushed aside and the personal aspect is given more focus. Otherwise, “The Good Wife” will be gone as quickly as the media circus surrounding any run-of-the-mill political sex scandal.