Can we just take a moment to reflect on the greatness of The Good Wife? It’s not that I haven’t said it before—and God knows I’ll say it again—but a series of this caliber should be recognized repeatedly. The show fully deserves to be part of our ongoing discussion of this new Golden Age of television, whether or not it’s as glossy as Mad Men or as tense as Breaking Bad. It might not be perfect (what is?), but it’s the best non-cable drama on TV right now—frankly, it’s on a whole different level than its competitors.
Sunday’s Season 3 premiere offered everything we’ve come to expect from The Good Wife: sharp character moments, a captivating case-of-the-week, and secret, sexy shenanigans. Okay, that last one’s kind of a new addition, so we’ll allow some eyebrow-raising there. I was most impressed by the way the episode balanced a very controversial case (a purported hate crime against a Jew by a Muslim) with office politics, bedroom politics, and politics politics.
There isn’t much to say about the case, because it was self-contained—though I do appreciate that the series didn’t shy away from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or offer any PC platitudes on either side. As a result, the episode gave us a very current story that continually subverted stereotypes without ever being hackneyed or deliberately shocking. It also allowed for a great line from Eli: “Is it good for the Jewish League Fund? I don’t know. A Muslim was the killer, but he was also gay and sleeping with our guy, so I would call that a classic mixed message … If it helps our cause, I can find out if he’s a top.”
The Good Wife is a series that knows its strengths, as evidenced by the way it’s brought. All told, the show features some of the most well-developed characters on television, and their interactions with one another remain the show’s strongest asset. Aside from Eli’s scenes—and credit where it’s due, Alan Cumming continues to do great things with the role—there were wonderful moments with Kalinda and Will, Kalinda and Cary, and Will and Alicia. The two halves of that last pairing, by the way, are totally still doing it. I admired the premiere’s slow reveal of their ongoing affair (if you want to call it that), because there’s so much more to this show than the Alicia/Will relationship.
But you know what I actually find more interesting than office romance? The relationship between estranged married couple Alicia and Peter. Season 1 saw them apart but trying to make it work, Season 2 brought them together again, and now, at the start of Season 3, Alicia and Peter are near-adversaries. They can’t get divorced, as Eli reminded Peter; they can’t even let anyone know they’re separated. And as they work both sides of a case, defense and prosecution, they know exactly how to play one another. The stronger Alicia becomes as a lawyer, the more Peter shows his prosecutorial strength. He is going to run a clean office, but he’s not afraid to use his intimate knowledge of Alicia to swing cases in his favor.
As with any good season premiere, Sunday’s episode left me excited to find out what happens next. I’m interested in Peter’s political aspirations (not as much as Leslie Knope’s, but still), I’m interested in Alicia’s clandestine relationship, and I’m interested in Kalinda’s—well, everything. The Good Wife sets a higher standard for non-cable drama, and I look forward to being wowed on a weekly basis.
“You’re being a bit rude,” one witness told Alicia. “Yes,” she answered, “and I’m just getting started.”