The Good Wife Continues To Paint A Portrait Of A Different Sort Of Abused Wife
By Alex Cranz
This review discusses spousal abuse and may be triggering for some readers.
Quick take a moment. Close your eyes. Picture a woman who is a victim of spousal abuse. Think of what entertainment has taught you. See her wispy frame and haunted eyes and the way she flinches at every loud noise. See the way “victim” is scrawled across her body with a writer’s pen and tatoo into her very self. See how she can’t break out of the cycle. How she’s just too weak to escape the man who hurts her and loves her and beats her black and blue.
Not until he beats her beyond recognition and a friend or good-looking hero saves her from her prison.
It’s the constant narrative of the abused and it becomes so constant that often we don’t recognize when people are abused because it doesn’t meet that narrowly defined illustration formed in our minds.
Kalinda Sharma can’t be a victim of abuse. She wields sledgehammers, bats and pistols with equal skill. She coyly teases her husband and licks her ice cream after he’s fingered her and jammed his fingers into her dessert. Kalinda is too cool and confident to be abused.
That’s why people nervously laughed last week and talked about how “sexy” her encounters with her husband was. It’s easy to ignore her fear and see the bravado as truth and assume that she’s consenting every step of the way.
Because we’re told that someone as cool as Kalinda Sharma could never be abused. That’s why Alicia only looks mildly startled when Kalinda is hesitant to call her husband “dangerous” again and it’s why Will doesn’t link Kalinda’s sudden lack of work ethic with the arrival of her spouse.
It’s easy to just assume this is enigmatic Kalinda at play and not a story of abuse.
It’s easy for the audience to interpret it that way. Michelle and Robert King are playing a dangerous game with this story line. It’s one full of subtlety, with depths to each scene, and quickly realized and fully colored characters. But this subject, spousal abuse, is often dealt with much more monochromatically. It’s by no means irresponsible of them to handle the storyline they way they are but it is alarming to see Kalinda go toe to toe with her husband and have the media and even CBS treat it as another salacious Kalinda story.
There’s a certain degree of “business as usual” in every other aspect of the season that almost…diminishes what’s going on with Kalinda (at the very least it adds to the confusion for many as to whether it’s kinky or abusive). Will and Diane are still trying to save the firm and still being told that they’re idealism overwhelms pragmatism and consistently hurts their business. Peter is still trying to be more honest about his past actions–even if it means harming his campaign (note how his honesty never does though) and Alicia is still being caught out as a pawn.
First she’s her firm’s pawn–asked to convinced guest star Maura Tierney to renegotiate the firm’s lease. Then she’s inadvertently the pawn of Tierney’s wealthy property owner and her husband as they use her to establish a political relationship. By episode’s end Tierney’s has fully inserted herself into Alicia’s life–to such an extent that when she asks Alicia out for coffee Alicia thinks she’s coming onto her.
She isn’t but her fascination with Alicia is more than just a desire for friendship. It’s also incredibly invigorating. Maura Tierney’s super rich, super smart, super enigmatic feminist is a breath of fresh air as vital as Alan Cumming’s Eli Gold. With one appearance she’s seemingly shaken up dynamics and changed the game.
She’s also just a joy to watch. She and Margulies have easy chemistry (I mean she DID replace her on ER) and there’s a hint, at least for Alicia, of joy at having a friend that isn’t the oblique Kalinda or the numerous snakes of the law firm.
And right now Alicia needs all the friends she can get. As long as she doesn’t go trading in Kalinda for Maura. Because it looks like Kalinda needs a super friend right about now.
- Nathan Lane continues to sit in on meetings and point out how bad at business Will and Diane are. It shouldn’t be satisfying but it is.
- Will’s first case back and he nearly gets schooled by a jury with a penchant for passing notes.
- So Peter and Alicia could be a thing again? The complexity of their relationship is one of the more interesting aspects of the show.
- Next Week: Jill Flint is back as Kalinda’s ex-girlfriend/FBI buddy and Miriam Shor replaces Kristen Chenoweth as a no nonsense reporter with a southern lilt.