Coming off an inconsistent — and in my opinion — overrated season 1, I was still mildly optimistic heading into the sophomore season of The Good Wife. With the wrap of season 2, I can now call myself a convert. The show is still prone to some goofy and unnecessary plotting, but season 2 was a satisfying ride that got better and better as it went along. The Good Wife is now, essentially, Grey’s Anatomy, but this time that action centers on a few Chicago lawyers, with good looking people doing naughty things while trying, with varying degrees of success, to retain their occasionally questionable souls.
What Works: Once again, the chemistry between the characters rules the day. Having made the very wise choice to abandon some of the “procedural” aspects of the show in favor of the juicy characters, The Good Wife became far more focused and driven, delivering generally excellent performances all around. The will-they-or-won’t-they between Julianna Marguiles’ Alicia Florek and (personal favorite) Josh Charles’ Will Gardner was there all season, while Chris Noth’s possibly reformed Peter Florek ran for re-election for State’s Attorney while also trying to reclaim his family. Alan Cumming as campaign manager Eli Gold was a welcomed presence of sometimes icky wisdom, humor and, in a very strange way, humanity. And the always mysterious Kalinda as the law firm’s investigator hit new highs (or lows, depending on how you look at it), pushing Alicia to the point of deciding once and for all whether she really is “The Good Wife.”
What Doesn’t: The legal plots are still boiler plate. The death row inmate looking for a last-minute pardon? The unscrupulous insurance company? Ho-hum. Been there, done that. And despite the quick pace of the episodes, the cases get resolved way too fast, challenging their credibility. One of my biggest pet peeves comes in the form of the “quirky” judges, which seems utterly implausible. One? Maybe. But almost every judge seems like a cartoon character with bizarrely exaggerated traits, which is painful to watch when the show is based on, in theory, the real-world legal system. The show also struggles to keep Alicia’s children in the mix, forcing her son’s very bad and unlikable/sorta girlfriend into the frame, just to stir up trouble.
Final Thoughts: As a popcorn show, The Good Wife is a tasty treat. There’s no high art here, just a pulpy, semi-trashy workplace drama that mixes law, politics, family, sex and love, and for the most part leaves the viewer wanting more at the end of each episode. The Good Wife looks good, moves fast and is littered with quality actors who bring layers to their roles. I still hold out hope the silliness will dissipate in coming seasons, but even if not, The Good Wife is addictive, watchable TV that I look forward to week in and week out.
Season 2 Score: 8 Stars out of 10