The Good Wife Punishing Alicia For Willicia?
By Alex Cranz
There’s this guilt bred into moms. Not just working moms but all moms. If something happens to a child a dad will be pitied by society and he will feel guilt, but women are trained by society to feel that guilt more acutely. Women who work, who leave their husbands, who seek lives beyond the traditional maternal one are punished for it. This isn’t new.
Yeah, there’s an unwritten rule that women who stay at home are supposed to pretend it’s boring, and women who work are supposed to pretend they feel guilty, and that’s how it works.
- Amy Poehler, Bust Magazine
Only on The Good Wife Alicia felt legitimately guilty this week. It wasn’t external forces that guilted her. It was all internal. And that internal guilt. That twinge of internalized misogyny led her to leave Will.
Here’s what went down:
A few weeks before Alicia dealt with a case where a man murdered teenage girls. It was an appalling case any way you look at it, but Alicia, mindful of the teenage daughter she had at home, was especially moved by it. The case rattled a woman who is rarely rattled.
And Will told her he loved her.
Alicia never meant to love Will. She wanted to have fun. She wanted to stop being “the good wife” and finally just be Alicia for a little bit. Will had years of desire fueling his half of the affair while Alicia was doing it to escape all the people who’d hurt her emotionally.
Her reasons for having the affair put it on a timer. It was never going to be a long-term thing for Alicia. All she needed was a push. A reason to back out.
And this week she got it. After weeks of worrying about her daughter for borderline irrational reasons this week she went into full-blown “mom” mode.
It’s something my siblings and I are intimately familiar with. Your cellphone “dies” and your mom spins herself into a psychological tizzy. In my mom’s case this led to her driving around at 2am looking for us. In Alicia’s case she got Peter to use the chief of police to launch search parties.
She also uses her daughter’s “disappearance” as a wake up call. Instead of thinking things like “my daughter needs to charge her phone” or “maybe we should talk to her about getting baptized by strange dudes and not telling a single person.” Alicia goes to “I have failed as a mother and need to get back on track so this never happens again. What a terrible person I am for having some fun sex. So long Will.”
90% of guys in the same position? Would not react that way. Women, especially older women, have been told that they must work and have children but they must feel guilty about working. They can’t have affairs. They can’t break up the family. They are the anchor of the family. It is their millstone and if they cast it aside they’re not only bad parents, but bad people.
Peter’s guilt about his many affairs? Had nothing to do with how they affected his role as a parent and everything to do with how they hurt his wife. When he swoops in to sit with Alicia and worry about their missing daughter he doesn’t express the same guilt. In fact he expresses no guilt. It’s all on Alicia.
The Good Wife didn’t punish Alicia for her affair with Will. Alicia did.
On the bright side, while Alicia wrestled with her internalized misogyny Michael J Fox returned to help guilt her and in general be awesome. And Kalinda acted like a magical fairy made merged with Batman and saved the day but insisted that no one know the truth. It was a big martyrish move on her part, refusing credit for helping Alicia’s daughter. But if it means Alicia will find out later and they’ll become friends again? I’m all for it.