The American Renaissance: Chapter Six: The Good Wife
By Michael Moriarty
Netflix’s The Good Wife is NBC’S Law and Order on steroids.
One great, 45-minute-serving of drama after another for roughly 4 ¾ full days of non-stop, 24 hours-per-day watching!
No, I didn’t consume it quite that fast.
However, it will only take me one more day to completely see all 7 seasons of The Good Wife.
That is how addicted I am to this divine roller coaster ride.
The Good Wife can, if it chooses to, easily match its role model’s… Law and Order’s record of a 20-year longevity, and, should its present creators remain with the show, carry on into the future, beyond even the life of Gunsmoke and Law and Order combined.
And, yes, it is undeniably richer and more exciting than Law and Order ever was.
Aside from the life of a defense lawyer always being double the emotional range of any prosecution team, the leading character, indeed, The Good Wife herself, has an ongoing, doubt-ridden crisis with her husband, played by former Law and Order alumnus, Christopher Noth.
The program’s legal advisory and writing staff have lifted the courtroom density by stacking the bench with an unending and most impressive string of no-nonsense, wittily patronizing judges who take no prisoners.
The high-points of each episode’s courtroom proceedings are ruthlessly edited and almost each and every syllable dropped from every “mouthpiece” feeds a merciless battleground with unrelenting intensity.
As also an alumnus of Law and Order, I take a certain, personal pride in The Good Wife’s very existence.
Without the success of Dick Wolf’s Law and Order, The Good Wife of Netflix might not have seen a title of any kind, let alone a courtroom.
By the third episode of The Good Wife’s first season, I am beyond “hooked”.
I smile and laugh repeatedly at the brilliance, intelligence and stinging wit within the repartee that will most likely bristle throughout its entire, law and order, 22 shows-per-year offering.
The Good Wife’s many predicaments?
You can’t ask for much more out of any heroine’s pilgrimage through the nightmare and challenges we see our Good Wife/Breath-Taking Consigliere caught in.
While she’s hurting from her own dilemmas, she’s obliged to put others into similar pain.
“Never trust a lawyer!”
Not even the proven integrity of The Good Wife?!
If the opposition hires her?!
She’s obliged to, indeed, take the other side and, yes!
She’s deliberately trained in law school to sell her soul in a complete about-face!
She has to envision the “other side’s strategy” anyway! Without such easily shifting moral guidelines, she cannot defend her client swiftly enough.
By episode five, we confront that exact moral quandary
At one seminal moment in episode 5 of the first season, our heroine suddenly becomes heartless, coldly opportunistic and, upon seeing the grief-stricken face of the young woman she forced to testify against her own best interests?! We see The Good Wife’s simple, common decency shoved just that much further into her subconscious.
And inevitably, as successes follow, one after another, her conscience will grow increasingly more challenged.
Will she, as expected, grow more calloused and lose her soul forever?
Meanwhile, the character of Kalindra Sharma, trained in deadly violence by surviving her previous marriage to a psychotic, is performed with exquisitely poker-faced perfection by Archie Panjabi.
Of all the characters in The Good Wife, she is the most mesmerizing, and, finally, the most ethically complex.
Despite a few of her ruthlessly violent decisions, she still holds – to put it not so simply – our complexly unwilling compassion.
Of all the characters in The Good Wife, she is the most courageous.
That bravery alone wins us to her forever.
Is the bit by bit loss of one’s own soul a necessary part of the legal profession?!
That question is why, in the end, my “Ben Stone” of Law and Order ended his undeniably successful career!
Both Ben Stone and I discovered that keeping one’s mouth shut about the unconstitutional behavior of a real life Attorney General was also the price one must pay for being part of a successful NBC television show.
Success in American business of any kind, whether in law, entertainment or politics demands one increasingly look the other way.
Thank God I didn’t do that.
My career paid a price but my joy in life has only increased.
Now that I am into the Sixth Series of The Good Wife, the very entrance of Christ in the life of the Good Wife is the hopeful sign that it might be possible to retain both a legal career and a soul.
Since I do believe that Christ and The Advocate He bestowed upon us, the Holy Spirit, are God’s own law firm, and with such sacred blessings knocking on the Good Wife’s door, our heroine may not be the Hillary Clinton that the Good Wife seems to have been originally painted as.
Chicago, however, as even the Red Atheist, Bertolt Brecht realized, is that profoundest Jungle of Cities and the home of little Hitlers such as Brecht’s Arturo Ui. The diabolical “Toddlin’ Town” wraps itself around The Good Wife so inextricably that we are, in a very real sense, experiencing a modernist’s version of Dante’s Inferno.
The creators of this impressively literate portrait of a Third Millennium Hell, Michelle and Robert King, chose, as their main subjects, the two most likely Americans to be found in the impressive stable of lawyers owned by that legendary lawyer of light, Lord Lucifer: Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Needless to say, this bold, x-ray vision of Chicago, the Democrat Party and the hell of American politics has me beyond fascinated.
I feel myself on a virtual pilgrimage, no, a literal and indisputably classic Odyssey, with The Good Wife as an “Odyssia” and the stakes involved are not her own life but her own soul.
The drama of a human being who is incurably “Good”!
Despite all the temptations surrounding her and her return to practicing law not so much a decision as a necessity, our heroine, while declaring herself an atheist, has the appearance, no, the soul of a “Good Catholic Girl”.
As such, she was forced, by necessity, to become the angel of a second and third chance for the homicidal and depraved.
Such a heroine, as such and for myself at any rate, possesses infinitely dramatic possibilities and eternal suspense; not to mention the fact that even if she falls further into Hell, her initial “Goodness” can and will “Bring Her Back”.
The “stakes” involved are not human life but the human soul itself.
In Series 6, Episode 19, entitled “Winning Ugly”?
The very head of the Democratic National Committee reveals, through his own decisions, how profoundly corrupt he is and, therefore, how corrupt the entire Democratic Party can be.
Obviously, The Good Wife is not what we might expect from a seasoned, Hollywood producer such as Ridley Scott. It’s the very opposite of a whitewash for the Liberal Left. Actually, the hell that The Good Wife finds herself in is, in fact, the American Democratic Party itself.
Where and when have we ever seen an American television series choose to create such a boldly naked examination of
Have I ever experienced such an offering from an ordinarily Democratic Party of Hollywood?
Not at any moment amidst my 76 years of time on Earth… and 50 some years in the performing arts.
A television series that doesn’t patronize its own audience?
That takes the “Progressive” Left’s elephants-in-the-room – Bill, Hillary and the Chicago “machine” – puts them all under such an intense, thorough and lacerating microscope?!
An ambitious law firm?!
Whose back won’t this legal posse stab?!
The Good Wife won’t stop effecting the American self-image for decades.
Perhaps even centuries.
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.