The Good Wife Season 5 Review “A Precious Commodity”

Not many would dispute the notion that The Good Wife is one of the most polished shows on television. The show is teeming with competent professionals who can stand and deliver when asked. It’s led by perhaps the most solid actress of our time (Julianna Margulies), co-stars some able performers (Christine Baranski and Josh Charles), and has several bit players exceedingly capable of coming in and stealing scenes (Alan Cumming, for one). It’s the kind of show that must be a joy to produce. Everyone seems so professional and so well put together it becomes hard to quibble with anything the show is trying to do. Sure, the storylines may occasionally flub, but the performances always hit their marks, and everyone looks great doing it. It’s a clean, polished machine of network television. It takes a lot of pride in being a network procedural with cable-level sensibilities and mostly delivers on that promise.

Here’s the problem: The long-arc storyline surrounding Diane’s departure is anything but clean and polished. She’s being forced out of the firm she helped establish. Granted, she has a job waiting for her at the other end of this road, but the idea of the likes of David Lee forcing her out of her firm should raise her blood a little. I respect the gravitas Christine Baranski lends to the role, and her abilities as an actress. Still, the show has a real opportunity here to show something a little different. Hushed tones behind closed doors are fine, but the the fine-tuned rhetoric doesn’t seem to fit between Will and Diane. For two people to dissolve a partnership over the course of 42 minutes is pretty jarring. It needed to stretch out. It needed to be messy. I appreciate the gloss The Good Wife puts on its show as much as anyone, but part of having that cable-level sensibility is being willing to muss up the hair on occasion. If you look across the dial at the best cable television has to offer, there isn’t a show you’ll find that is scared to get a little messy. Perhaps we’re only at the beginning stages and Kalinda’s findings will raise the stakes, but for now, the show is treating the storyline as if there was a time limit on its resolution.

While I needed more from Diane vs. Will, I could have done without this week’s case of the week. The Good Wife certainly earns its brownie points for not shying away from the weird and the controversial, but this case felt like a mash up of so many others. There’s the controversial topic, the pro-bono work from Alicia, the horribleness of David Lee, and the client who won’t behave herself. As always, I appreciate the ending wasn’t necessarily the best outcome, but it was the ending Alicia represented. So many lawyer shows have seen people fighting on the side of good. They strive to do the right thing, and the only cases that come through their door are the meek who need defending. Therefore, I appreciate Alicia Florrick is a lawyer in the real world. You represent your clients. Sometimes they have the right interests, sometimes they don’t. We’ll never know where Tara’s decision ultimately falls, but I liked the ambiguity of the ending.

Ultimately, I came away disappointed the case of the week got messier then Will and Diane. The child certainly heightened the emotion, but to watch years of personal and professional history go up in the most high-end of cigar smoke was astounding. I know we haven’t heard the last of this storyline, but for one night, the show’s polish stood in the way of some really compelling television.