A creative renaissance? A renewed passion? Whatever you want to call it, season 5 of The Good Wife is on fire – in the best possible way. Alicia went out on her own, much to the surprise and shock of Will and Diane. Because of this seeming betrayal by Alicia, Will has rediscovered the drive that made him want to be a lawyer and a name partner in the first place. Denied her judgeship, Diane is back in the fold (where she should be). Peter and Eli (and Marilyn) are in the Governor’s mansion politicking, the lawyers at both firms are doing what they do best, and Alicia’s family life is currently stable, although that never lasts for long. Let’s delve deeper into what’s made this season so satisfying so far and why I’ll always be grateful for a show like this.Â
10. The guest cast
I’m not even sure where to start here. If I focus just on season 5 so far, we’ve already seen the likes of Mamie Gummer, Jeffrey Tambor, Jason O’Mara, Nathan Lane, Janel Moloney, Edward Herrmann, Gary Cole, Stockard Channing and America Ferrera. If we’re opening it up a little bit more the names I can recall off the top of my head are Michael J. Fox, John Noble, Dylan Baker, Denis O’Hare, Martha Plimpton and Matthew Perry. And that’s only from last season. Suffice it to say, the list is long and distinguished. To be a guest or recurring guest on this show seems to be some sort of medal of honor – one worn proudly by actors who enjoy great roles and interesting storylines. But more than just the caliber of the guest stars is the work they consistently deliver. I love to see what they do with the material they’re given and I don’t think I’ve been disappointed yet. Of course, it’s always nice to see a face we’ve become familiar with on another show. With The Good Wife it’s even more fun to see what kind of character the writers have created for these actors we love.
9. The supporting cast
The list is long: Alicia’s family, the lawyers at both LG and Florrick Agos and Associates, the judges, the opposing counsel, etc. This is a large and diverse cast and it’s always Â entertaining to see how all the characters orbit around Alicia – both personally and professionally. I can’t be the only one who is excited to see Mary Beth Peil‘s Jackie Florrick back in action. I have to admit that I love it when she’s underhanded and devious, especially when she’s trying to get her way over what Eli wants. Chris Noth as Peter Florrick is always fun to watch, whether he’s peacocking with Will or talking strategy with Eli. I’m still mourning the Kalinda/Alicia friendship. I guess it’s old news and I know I need to get over it, but I just really loved these two. There are a lot of other characters I could mention but we only have so much time. Those are just a handful of the standouts for me.
8. The Ripped From the Headlines Stories
Whether it’s straight from the front page of your local paper or a twist on a story we think we already know, both the cases and the personal stories of the firm’s clients are always so engaging. It all started with the Elliot Spitzer-like drama with Alicia and her disgraced politician husband and it’s just gotten more interesting and twisted from there. I love seeing all the behind-the-scenes scheming and planning that goes into each case as well as how everyone fares in court. The personal histories of their clients as well as the working relationships of these lawyers with the judges is always dynamic and it’s all the better when things don’t go as planned.
7. Zach Grenier‘sÂ David Lee Is Trouble
I cannot get enough of David Lee. I think I may have loved him from the moment he first appeared on this show (which I think was in 2010’s “Infamy”) and I still love him now. Actually, I love him more now.Â I’m sure part of my fascination has to do with the smart writing, but a larger part of it is Zach Grenier’s spot on delivery. I just don’t get tired of David Lee machinations. I love watching him make trouble. I want to continue watching him make messes and problems for anyone who gets on his bad side. And people continue to do that all the time.
6.Â Matt Czuchry‘sÂ Cary Agos is a Name Partner at His Own Firm
Cary is an interesting character for me. I like that he spent time at Lockhart Gardner and the State’s Attorneys office. He’s a better lawyer because he’s played both sides. I’ve always enjoyed his dynamic with Alicia, even when it been tense and adversarial. I’d like to see what Cary’s personal life is like because I feel like that’s one aspect we know little to nothing about right now. Either way, I continue to enjoy his evolution as a character.
5.Â Christine Baranski‘sÂ Diane Lockhart Won’t Be an Illinois Supreme Court Judge (For Now)
I’ve always loved Christine Baranski, but I feel like this is the first TV role she’s had that has really showcased her serious acting chops. She’s been through a lot and I want to see her continue to experience it all. She’s passionate about the law and about Kurt. She served as a great mentor to Alicia for most of her time at Lockhart Gardner. She knows how to play the game most of the time and can be a real asset in the courtroom. Now that she’s firmly back at LG, I want to see her continue to strengthen her bond with Will and to work on interesting and challenging cases. I wonder if she and Alicia can ever be friendly again. I hope so.
It’s hard to separate these two things. I know Robert and Michelle King have a staff of writers who are responsible for pitching ideas and writing a lot of the episodes. But Robert and Michelle King are the ones who oversee everything and make sure the stories and writing live up to their (and our) expectations. So without them, this show wouldn’t be what it is today. Everything starts and ends with them and even when I feel like this ship isn’t necessarily on course, I am more than willing to weather their course corrections. Wow, I’m not sure when my metaphor got so nautical, but I’m sticking with it. At the end of the day they tell an entertaining, interesting and often tense and surprising story.
2.Â Josh Charles‘s Will Gardner Fights For What’s His
I feel like this is the year of Will Gardner. I’ve been a fan of Josh Charles since back in his Sports NightÂ days. Similar to Christine Baranski, I feel like this could be the role of his career. He’s already been through a lot, but his best work this season has to be from “Hitting the Fan.” If he doesn’t get an Emmy nod, I will be complaining loudly and often. But back to the show. Will’s current mindset/struggle/plan of attack is fascinating on many levels. I want to see him succeed, but obviously I don’t want him to run Alicia and Cary out of business. I understand his need to get revenge, but at some point I hope that he’ll come to realize that Alicia felt like she needed to leave. Until then, I’m enjoying this rebellion. I want to see just how far he’ll go to turn LG into the powerhouse he believes it can be.
1.Â Julianna Margulies‘Â Alicia Florrick Is (Still) The Good Wife
And where would this show be without Julianna Margulies? I’m sure there are a handful of other actresses who would’ve made this show very compelling, but I can’t imagine anyone other than Julianna in this role. I root for Alicia, I feel her heartbreak, I want to see her succeed even when she makes questionable choices. I like it when she fights back and wins cases for her clients. I like it when something goes wrong with her case despite her best efforts. Her interactions with her family are always enlightening, but I also enjoy the quiet moments when it’s just Alicia ruminating on her day or her life or her choices. Any way you slice it, it’s a great story very well acted.
The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9/8c on CBS.
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