16 great shows: the good wife (2009)

(Bitter Script Reader challenged their followers to make a list of 16 Great Shows that have influenced them as writers and viewers. This is my list.)

15

I didn’t start watching The Good Wife until about 2013. It’s so rare that I would start a show in the middle of it while it’s still airing, but it was part of an assignment in my television writing class and I’m so glad it was. The Good Wife has somehow become a part of my bingeing rotation when I just need something to watch that I know will be good and satisfying.

And it is so satisfying. I don’t typically like procedurals unless there’s some kind of mythology or serialized season long arc, something driving the show. I burn out on shows like Bones and Castle, even with their high degree of relationship driven plot. At a certain point the cases become redundant.

Even with seven seasons this somehow never happened on The Good Wife. The cases always felt fresh and the twists came from out of nowhere.

It helped that the show had a strong cast of guest actors to pull from. From judges (Jeffrey Tambor, Ana Gasteyer, Denis O’Hare) to clients (Dylan Baker, John Benjamin Hickey, Mike Colter) to oppositional lawyers (Michael J. Fox, Rita Wilson, Carrie Preston) to Gary Cole there was always someone great to bring in and spice up an episode.

But just as important, The Good Wife had a solid foundation. It mixed the procedural and personal seamlessly and fairly equally. It didn’t hurt that the show had a strong female protagonist that was to varying degrees admirable, funny, steadfast, righteous, flawed, and just plain interesting.

Between the cases, the relationships, and the dynamic between the two this show has stood out amongst so many others in our current television climate. It’s a show I’m happy to watch over and over again and I still enjoy just as much (if not more) as I did the first time I watched.

This show doesn’t need a gimmick. It’s just good. And even among such juggernauts as Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, that’s all The Good Wife needed to be. Great television and great writing that both entertains and makes you think.

I certainly hope to be able to blend the two in my future work and I hope more shows will be brave enough to follow suit.

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