The Good Wife
The Good Wife Logo.png
Genre
Created by
Starring
Composers
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons7
No. of episodes156 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Producers
Production locations
Running time40–46 minutes
Production companies
DistributorCBS Television Distribution
Release
Original networkCBS
Picture format1080i (16:9 HDTV)
Original releaseSeptember 22, 2009 (2009-09-22) –
May 8, 2016 (2016-05-08)
Chronology
Followed byThe Good Fight
Related shows

The Good Wife is an American legal and political drama television series that aired on CBS from September 22, 2009, to May 8, 2016.[1] It focuses on Alicia Florrick, the wife of the Cook County State's Attorney, who returns to her career in law after the events of a public sex and political corruption scandal involving her husband. The series was created by Robert and Michelle King and stars Julianna Margulies, Josh Charles, Christine Baranski, Matt Czuchry, Archie Panjabi, Zach Grenier, Matthew Goode, Cush Jumbo, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Alan Cumming, and features Chris Noth in a recurring role. The executive producers included the Kings, Ridley and Tony Scott, Charles McDougall, and David W. Zucker.[2][3] The Good Wife is a serialized show featuring several story arcs that play out over multiple episodes, as well as stand-alone storylines that are concluded by the end of each episode. The serial plots—a rarity on CBS, a network where most of the programming at that time was procedural—were especially showcased in its highly praised fifth season.[4]

The Good Wife was acclaimed during its run and considered by several critics to be network television's "last great drama".[5][6][7] It won numerous awards, including five Emmys and the 2014 Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Drama. The performances of the show's cast have been particularly recognized, with Julianna Margulies, Archie Panjabi, Christine Baranski, and Josh Charles each receiving widespread acclaim.[8] The show was also lauded for its insight on social media and the internet in society, politics, and law. It received recognition for producing full 22-episode seasons while other similarly acclaimed dramas often produce only 6 to 13 episodes per season. CBS announced on February 7, 2016, that the show was ending with its seventh season. The final episode aired on May 8, 2016.[9][10] A spinoff titled The Good Fight, centered around Baranski's character Diane Lockhart and Cush Jumbo's Lucca Quinn, also starring Rose Leslie and Delroy Lindo, premiered in February 2017.

Premise

The series focuses on Alicia Florrick (Margulies), whose husband Peter (Noth), the former Cook County, Illinois State's Attorney, has been jailed following a notorious political corruption and sex scandal. After having spent the previous 13 years as a stay-at-home mother, Alicia returns to the workforce as a litigator to provide for her two children.[11]

Spitzer
Edwards
The Eliot Spitzer (left) and John Edwards scandals served as inspiration for The Good Wife

Production

Conception

Writers Michelle and Robert King wanted to create a series that focused on the wife of a high-profile politician following a public sex scandal. They got the idea after they observed prominent American scandals of this nature, such as those involving President Bill Clinton and North Carolina Senator John Edwards. The image of a wife standing silently beside her husband as he publicly admits to his sexual or political misconduct had become cliché, according to Robert King.[12] This image led the Kings to question why these women stood by their husbands, as well as to wonder about the events that followed on that initial announcement. They were further intrigued by the fact that many of the wives were lawyers who had halted their personal careers for the sake of their husbands' professional ambitions.[12] The actual idea for the series was first postulated in the weeks following the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal of 2008.[13] As Michelle King explains:

You know, what's interesting about a lot of these political scandals is that the women are lawyers, too. Hillary is a lawyer. Elizabeth Edwards is a lawyer. I think that got us thinking along those lines. That is, we knew she had to go back to work, and we had so many female lawyers to draw on.[14]

Production team

Robert and Michelle King at the 2015 PaleyFest presentation for The Good Wife
Robert and Michelle King at the 2015 PaleyFest presentation for The Good Wife

The series was created by Michelle and Robert King, who serve as executive producers and show runners.[2] The pair had produced the short-lived legal drama In Justice that aired as a mid-season replacement in early 2006.[15] The creators had previously worked extensively in feature films. Scott Free productions helped to finance The Good Wife and Ridley Scott, Tony Scott (until his death) and David W. Zucker are credited as executive producers.[16][17]

Executive producer Dee Johnson added television writing experience to the team.[15][17] Charles McDougall directed the pilot episode and was the pilot's other executive producer.[18] McDougall had previously enjoyed success as the director of the pilot for Desperate Housewives. All seven executive producers returned when a full series was ordered and they were joined by executive producer Brooke Kennedy.[19] McDougall left the crew after directing and executive producing the second episode.[19][20] The series is produced by Bernadette Caulfield who had previously worked on the HBO polygamy drama Big Love; co-producer Ron Binkowski added post production experience to the pilot and returned for the first season.

Several new producers were added to the crew once CBS ordered a full season. Angela Amato Velez joined the crew as a consulting producer and writer bringing legal experience from her careers as a police officer and legal aid attorney and writing experience from the police dramas Third Watch and Southland. Todd Ellis Kessler, who had recently completed production on The Unit, and had previously worked on legal drama The Practice, joined the staff as a co-executive producer and writer.[21] Ted Humphrey served as a supervising producer and writer and then as co-executive producer and writer. Corinne Brinkerhoff completed the production team as a writer and co-producer. Brinkerhoff had previously worked as a writer and story editor on Boston Legal. David W. Zucker is an executive producer on the show, having been nominated for four Primetime Emmys and one PGA Award. His credits included Judging Amy, The Pillars of the Earth, and Law Dogs.[22]

Although the series is set in Chicago, it was filmed in New York. The Kings and the writing staff are based in Los Angeles, and use teleconferencing to plan with the director of each episode.[15]

Authenticity of plot and characters was achieved through the use of script consultants, including Karen Kessler, who is a founding member and president of Evergreen Partners Inc., a public relations and events planning firm.

Cast and characters

See also: List of The Good Wife and The Good Fight characters

Main characters

Recurring characters

Episodes

Main article: List of The Good Wife episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankAverage viewership
(in millions)
First airedLast aired
123September 22, 2009 (2009-09-22)May 25, 2010 (2010-05-25)1813.12[36]
223September 28, 2010 (2010-09-28)May 17, 2011 (2011-05-17)1613.00[37]
322September 25, 2011 (2011-09-25)April 29, 2012 (2012-04-29)2611.83[38]
422September 30, 2012 (2012-09-30)April 28, 2013 (2013-04-28)2710.98[39]
522September 29, 2013 (2013-09-29)May 18, 2014 (2014-05-18)2311.43[40]
622September 21, 2014 (2014-09-21)May 10, 2015 (2015-05-10)2212.17[41]
722October 4, 2015 (2015-10-04)May 8, 2016 (2016-05-08)2710.84[42]

Season 1

Main article: The Good Wife (season 1)

As a junior associate at a prestigious Chicago law firm, Alicia Florrick joins her longtime friend, former law school classmate and firm partner Will Gardner, who is interested in rekindling their former relationship. The firm's top litigator and other partner, Diane Lockhart, likes Alicia's work and her connections, so she and Will award her with a full-time associate position following a trial period. Alicia beats out Cary Agos, a clever young attorney who takes a job in the state's attorney's office, now bitter and vengeful. Alicia finds an ally and a friend in Kalinda, the firm's tough and mysterious in-house investigator. Gaining confidence every day, Alicia transforms herself from embarrassed politician's scorned wife to resilient career woman, especially for the sake of providing a stable home for her children, 14-year-old Zach and 13-year-old Grace. Now that Peter is back home and planning to run for office again with help from Eli Gold, his cunning image consultant, Alicia continues to redefine herself and her role in her family's life.[11]

Season 2

Main article: The Good Wife (season 2)

Season 2 begins where season 1 left off with Will confessing his affection for Alicia and Alicia asking if he has a plan. Before the plan is conceived, however, Eli Gold takes possession of Alicia's phone and deletes a pivotal voicemail. Alicia, now under the impression that Will has lost interest in her, suppresses her feelings for Will, and the workplace environment becomes awkward when they are in vicinity of each other. With Alicia as a 2nd year associate after being chosen over Cary Agos, who has now been hired as a Deputy State's Attorney leading to Lockhart & Gardner, they often find themselves battling each other in court. Peter, now released from prison and cleared of charges, begins his campaign to run as State's Attorney against current State's Attorney Glenn Childs. A new main partner, Derrick Bond, joins the firm Lockhart & Gardner—now known as Lockhart Gardner & Bond. However, a feud between Diane and Will occurs when Will begins siding with Derrick Bond's suggestions. Diane requests Kalinda to check into Will's and Derrick's past. She discovers that they had a connection in Will's old law firm in Baltimore. At the same time, a new investigator joins the law firm—Blake Calamar. Brought in by Derrick Bond, he is determined to uncover Kalinda's past. When Will discovers that Bond has also been deceiving him, Will and Diane work together to remove Bond as a main partner, but wait until Bond brings in a "super PAC" (political action committee) client worth $100 million a year. Blake and Alicia feud, and Blake eventually uncovers that Kalinda had changed her name from "Leela" and that Leela slept with Peter Florrick when she used to work for him in the State's Attorney's office. Alicia finds out about the affair on the night that Peter wins the election for State's Attorney. Now separated from Peter, she develops stronger feelings for Will and begins a sexual relationship with him.

Season 3

Main article: The Good Wife (season 3)

Season 3 takes place the following morning after season 2 with Alicia now as a third year litigator on track to become partner while having an affair with her boss Will Gardner. She is given an office on the 29th floor, the only third year litigator with an office on that floor. Peter Florrick's crisis manager Eli Gold joins the firm to prepare for Peter's campaign for Governorship of Illinois, while Alicia acts as a bridge between Lockhart & Gardner and his campaign. Peter, now as State's Attorney, battles with Lockhart & Gardner from case to case while the firm begins to get a short-term liquidity problem. Diane and Will try to acquire a bankruptcy department from a competing law firm that is closing down due to the double dip recession, and they notice that a bankruptcy department is the only area that will survive a double dip recession. When Diane tries lobbying to become the State's Attorney's Civil Defender, she begins to suspect an affair between Will and Alicia. The affair, however, ends by mid-season after Alicia realizes she has been putting her needs before those of her children. The second half of the season focuses on Will Gardner being indicted for a crime he committed in his old law firm and ultimately being suspended for six months. Peter decides to run for Governor of Illinois and Kalinda's past comes back as it is revealed she has a husband who is searching for her.

Season 4

Main article: The Good Wife (season 4)

Season 4 focuses on Lockhart & Gardner's efforts to come out from bankruptcy after rival lawyers Louis Canning and Patti Nyholm team up to take them down. A trustee, Clarke Hayden, is appointed to watch over the firm, but Will and Diane are not happy once he starts getting in their way. Trying to gain money, the firm offers partnership to some associates, because they need their initial payment. When the debt is cleared, only Alicia is made partner and the other offers are delayed. Feeling angry, Cary teams up with the other fourth-years to start a new firm. Meanwhile, Peter Florrick runs for Governor. Eli is once again leading his campaign, although things get complicated when he finds out he is being investigated. Alicia befriends Maddie Hayward, who sponsors her husband's campaign, but ultimately it turns out she is running up against him and Mike Kresteva. In a B plot Kalinda's past comes to haunt her in the form of her husband Nick. Once he starts threatening people in her life, she needs to get rid of him. The firm also hires a new investigator to help her at work – Robyn Burdine. On top of all, Alicia is back with Peter, but having a hard time suppressing her feelings for Will. Season 4 ends with Peter Florrick winning the race as Governor of Illinois and Alicia deciding to quit Lockhart Gardner and join Cary Agos in forming a new firm.

Season 5

Main article: The Good Wife (season 5)

Season 5 takes place after Alicia joins Cary in opening a new firm. They take some of Lockhart Gardner's (now known as LG) clients, but they need to survive under the fierce backlash of their ex-employers. After winning the elections, Peter is now governor. Eli is his chief of staff and is having some problems with Marylin Garbanza, Director of the Governor's Ethics Commission. Meanwhile, the investigation of a ballot box, full of fake votes for Peter, may ruin his career. At the end of episode 15, Will Gardner is fatally shot in a courtroom by his client. This had a tremendous effect on many of the characters, particularly Alicia, Diane and Kalinda, all of whom reconsidered the course of their respective careers following his death. Finn Polmar was also introduced as a new ASA who befriends Alicia. Alicia decides to split up with Peter but will stay married in the public eye, as it benefits both of their careers. Louis Canning joins Lockhart Gardner as a partner and keeps Will's name on the letterhead, making the firm "Lockhart Gardner and Canning"; he and David Lee plot to kick Diane out of the firm. At the end of Season 5, Diane asks if she could join Florrick Agos with her $38 million in clients. Zach goes away to college and Eli asks Alicia if she would run for State's Attorney.

Season 6

Main article: The Good Wife (season 6)

Season 6 begins with Cary getting arrested having been charged with helping traffic $1.3 million worth of heroin. Diane's offer to join Florrick/Agos stands on the condition she gets an equal vote with Alicia and Cary. David Lee and Louis Canning get suspicious of Diane when she declares her intention to retire. Against Alicia's wishes, Eli conducts polling on a potential campaign for the State's Attorney office for Alicia and discovers that she has a very good chance of winning against the incumbent. With Cary in jail, Diane joins Florrick Agos to form Florrick Agos & Lockhart. Cary is let out on bail, but when he goes to a college reunion out of state, the terms of his bail are revised, and he is not allowed within 30 feet of Kalinda. In an FBI wiretap, it is revealed that Lemond Bishop had plans to assassinate Cary because he suspected Cary might turn. Bishop also pressures Kalinda into spying on her lover Lana Delany. Diane finds a void in the Lockhart Gardner and Canning building office contract and in a hostile takeover, evicts Canning, enabling Florrick Agos & Lockhart to move in. During Cary's cross examination, he takes a plea deal of four years. He's later cleared of all charges, in part because Kalinda faked evidence. Alicia Florrick wins the race for the State's Attorney's office over her competition, talkshow personality Frank Prady. The law firm comes under attack by hackers and five years of emails are leaked online in retaliation for their participation in a piracy case. Alicia is interviewed by journalist Petra Moritz in a post election "puff piece" where she unsuccessfully tries to exploit Alicia's past with Will via the hacked emails. When Alicia and Peter work together to thwart the bad press, Petra alleges that Alicia committed voter fraud by rigging voting machines. Andrew Wiley investigates the state's attorney's Brady violation against Cary and discovers Kalinda's fake evidence. Alicia is forced by the Democratic Party to resign as State's Attorney, to cover up that the voting machines were rigged for a more important Democratic candidate to protect the party's super majority in the state senate. Aware that evidence presented in Cary's defense was fraudulent, Geneva Pine pressures Kalinda to get evidence against Bishop while simultaneously pressuring Cary to do the same thing, playing their affections for one another against both. Kalinda successfully copies information from Bishop's computer onto a flash drive and attempts to frame a high-ranking member of Bishop's crew. Bishop is arrested, but his associates realize that Kalinda was responsible. In danger, she says goodbye to Cary and Diane, and leaves a note for Alicia. Attempting to find her, Cary goes to Kalinda's apartment and discovers it completely cleared out and ransacked - Kalinda has gone on the run.

Season 7

Main article: The Good Wife (season 7)

Season 7 begins with Alicia resisting going to work with Louis Canning and deciding to let Peter run for vice-president (as Hillary Clinton's running mate). Eli hires Ruth Eastman (Margo Martindale); however, she becomes Peter's campaign officer, leaving Eli out. Alicia, taking cases by herself, hires private investigator Jason Crouse (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in Kalinda's absence. Alicia finds a new ally in bar attorney Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) and the two become friends, sharing cases. In the latter part of the season, Peter gets investigated for another corruption charge involving murder during his second term as State's Attorney by Assistant U.S. Attorney Connor Fox. Peter hires Elsbeth Tascioni's ex-husband Mike Tascioni after noting a conflict of interest. As Alicia throws a house party for Peter's mother, Jackie Florrick, Mike drops out, leaving Diane to represent Peter in his trial. Alicia asks Peter for a divorce and agrees to it, once his trial is over. After Jason tells Alicia she will never divorce Peter if he goes to jail, Alicia focuses all her efforts on proving Peter's innocence, especially when Grace tells her she won't go to college if her father gets arrested. Alicia discovers a way to prove Peter's innocence by discrediting Diane's husband Kurt McVeigh after he made a mistake on the case when analyzing the guns used in the murder. After an argument with Diane, Alicia convinces Lucca to cross examine him on the stand, alluding to Kurt's indiscretions and infidelity leaving Diane humiliated. Eli begins moving political donors away from Peter, noting that it was Alicia all along who has real political potential even after a failed State's Attorney campaign. Peter is offered and takes a deal where he doesn't have to go to prison, but must resign from office as governor; he also begins divorce proceedings with Alicia but asks her to stand by his side one last time as he resigns from office. At his press conference, Alicia thinks she sees Jason waiting for her in a hallway and as soon the press conference finishes, walks off immediately, leaving Peter behind. After finding out it wasn't Jason waiting for her, Diane approaches Alicia before slapping her and walking off. Alicia is left alone in the hallway before fixing herself up and wiping away tears.

Technology and the Internet

The Good Wife has been well received among technology enthusiasts, being described by Clive Thompson of Wired as "the most tech-savvy show on TV".[43] The show has explored the relationship between technology and the law, covering topics including Bitcoin, Anonymous, viral marketing in political campaigns, voice control software, crisis management in the controversial AT&T and T-Mobile merger, virtual conferencing robots, and NSA surveillance. For example, one of the firm's recurring clients is a fictional internet search company known as ChumHum, which among other issues has faced privacy lawsuits for selling users' personal data to the Chinese and Syrian government. The Good Wife was the first TV show to feature Bitcoin, the virtual internet currency, with an episode featuring Bitcoin first broadcast in January 2012.[44] This led to it achieving a high level of fame amongst the Bitcoin community.[45][46]

In the season 5 premiere, a Double Robotics robot was featured on the show which allowed a litigator to teleconference from home by controlling a tablet on wheels. However, rather than glorifying the robot's features, The Good Wife turned it into a punchline with practical jokes and problems the robot could have such as it not being able to maneuver around an office and bumping into walls, doors, and people and low Wi-Fi connectivity leading to buffering and loss of visual and voice communication of the person working at home.[47] In season 5 episode 9, "Whack-a-Mole," The Good Wife featured a version of Reddit called "Scabbit" and how it affects the law and the downsides of having an "average joe" being an investigator trying to find a domestic terrorist. It also deals with injunctions of taking down a defamatory web page on "Scabbit" but having another similar web page pop up soon after. In season 5 episode 11, "Goliath and David," the story is based around a TV show Drama Camp who stole an indie band's cover of a rap song and deals with the legality of copyright infringement. It was inspired by Jonathan Coulton who created a cover of "Baby Got Back" and Glee, the TV series, which used an identical cover on the show. The character Robyn Burdine, a private investigator for Florrick/Agos, discovers that the show Drama Camp had to release the song on iTunes in Sweden before releasing it in the US and that the engineers directly ripped the indie band's track constituting actual theft.

In season 6 episode 2, the show tackles employee poaching in the workplace for social media companies and employee wage-fixing by The Good Wife's Google stand-in "ChumHum" and how they worked with other companies to fix employees' salaries. In season 6 episode 5, Florrick, Agos and Lockhart deal with ransomware on the office computers. In season 6 episode 15, the episode revolves around the case of a 3D printed gun that misfired and hit an innocent bystander. It takes an in-depth look at 3D printing and how modifications to CAD design, the printer model being used, and the environment a 3D printer is being used in can affect how an object is created and second amendment laws for downloadable firearms. In season 6 episode 17, "Undisclosed Recipients", the law firm's email system gets hacked as retaliation for a case with a movie studio suing "Wharf Master", the show's stand in for an illegal torrenting website. This begins an arc when the hackers forward further emails to Petra Morris, a journalist who is making a puff piece about Alicia Florrick's recent win for state's attorney. This leads to a voter fraud conspiracy resulting in an innocent Alicia withdrawing her name from contention for the State's Attorney's office.

Season 7 dealt with topics such as self-driving cars, Google's racial facial detection, racial bias in online mapping applications, and the NSA. Season 7 episode 14 deals with a case mirroring the missing iPhone 4 prototype with a ChumHum iPad-like tablet. Season 7 episode 18 deals with the topic of regulating the use of drones and its impact on privacy versus commerce discussions.

Reception

The Good Wife has received widespread acclaim from critics. The New York Times says that The Good Wife "stands out among newer fall shows" and that it is "miles ahead of anything else that's on at the moment."[48] In reviewing the first early episodes many critics praised the acting talents of the cast. The Chicago Tribune commended the show saying "one of the best parts of the show is Alicia's complicated relationship with her husband, who humiliated his family with a sex scandal but also appears to be a pawn in a larger game being played by high-level politicians."[49] The New York Daily News report, in a review of the lead character's performance said, "Margulies puts a powerful combination of cold fury, bewilderment and tenacity into Alicia Florrick, the wife of a disgraced Chicago politician in a new series that readily admits it ripped itself from the headlines"[50] while The Baltimore Sun predicted that "With all four [actors] bringing their 'A' games to the pilot, it looks as if CBS could have another winning 10 o'clock drama." There were a few reservations as to the long-term success and plot of the show, with the San Francisco Chronicle concluding that "There's nothing inherently wrong with The Good Wife other than it's a legal series with too many close-up shots of knowing glances and 'attagirl Alicia' moments of empowerment that you saw coming 20 minutes prior."[51] Time Magazine's James Poniewozik named it one of the Top 10 TV Series of 2010[52] and 2011, saying, "The ability to keep growing: that's what makes a good Wife great."[53] The Salt Lake Tribune in its list of the Top 10 series of 2011 ranked The Good Wife No. 3, explaining "The mix of fascinating legal drama and even more fascinating personal drama is superb."[54] AOL named Alicia the 19th Most Memorable Female TV Character.[55]

Verne Gay of Newsday said, "Like Mad Men, Wife has an obsessive attention to detail; it's a hurricane of detail, in the visual touches, legal patter and the actors' unspoken flourishes. Nothing seems extraneous or out of place. Also like Men, this show cares as much about silence as words, or that which isn't said (also a form of eloquence)." Emily VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club: "The series also feels impeccably researched and lived-in, just as The Wire did. The Good Wife may not seem like the logical successor to The Wire on the surface, but it's revealed itself to be a series nearly as complex, humane, and deep as that earlier show, and all in reduced network running-times with heightened restrictions on content."[56] The Guardian (Bim Adewunmi): "But as the 100th episode – part of a near-flawless season five – shows, The Good Wife is uncommonly good. If you're looking for a quality drama box set to escape the family this Christmas, look no further. It has no smoking, brooding male anti-hero, and it's not a period piece, but The Good Wife is exciting and smart and underrated."[57] The Guardian referred to The Good Wife as a "miracle of the small screen" that was "not really seen on that scale since the days of Cagney and Lacey."[58]

As a broadcast network television show which is usually stigmatised compared to its cable competitors, it has received what is considered unusual critical acclaim: USA Today said that The Good Wife is "broadcast's best drama", while The Atlantic said that the show "is delivering the best drama on network television".[59][60] TIME referred to it as "the best thing on TV outside cable".[61] TV critic Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker compared Alicia Florrick, the show's protagonist, to Walter White of Breaking Bad.[62] Esquire called The Good Wife "The Best Show on Television Right Now (Both Network and Cable)," claiming that the season 5 episodes "Hitting The Fan" and "The Next Day" were possibly the best television episodes produced that year, noting, "It's a rare show that starts to come into its own in the middle of its fifth season, but somehow CBS's The Good Wife has managed to do it."[63] Chancellor Agard of The Daily Beast said, "'Hitting the Fan' is so momentous because of the degree to which it contrasts with last week's equally excellent episode, 'Outside the Bubble.'"[64] Don Kaplan of the New York Daily News said, "Now the drama's in its fifth season, a time when most shows either go on autopilot or start offering "very special" shark-jumping episodes. But the producers and cast of Wife somehow managed to kick over the chessboard where the show has been played for years, scattering the pieces to the wind and reinventing The Good Wife as one of the most gripping dramas on television. Period."[65] It was named the Favorite Current TV Show by the Harris Poll.[66] In 2013, TV Guide ranked the series #59 on its list of the 60 Best Series of All Time.[67]

Rolling Stone described seasons six and seven as a "study in sprawl, with dozens of stranded characters and dead-end storylines: Alicia spent the show's sixth season running for political office only to end up right back where she started." Salon stated that season six "fell apart, seemingly overnight in the latter part of the season. On the eve of the finale, it's hard to tell what this season has been about: We watched an election, a stint in prison, an investigation of a drug dealer, and the aftereffects of voter fraud, but it has been difficult to assemble the events into a cohesive narrative."[68] Season seven has received criticism for the "incredibly uneven [plotting], sucking so much of the vitality and urgency out of the show." Variety noted that in season seven that "there were notably more of subplots and segues that were, at best, time-fillers and at worst, eyeroll-inducing" and said it "was obvious that it was time for the show to go."[69] TV.com observed that "obituaries for the show were already burying it instead of praising it, pointing to where it all went wrong, or that it wasn't even truly that great to begin with. An episode like 'End' solidified a lot of those arguments."[70] The New York Times opined that season seven "never sparkled or caught fire the way the series did in its best seasons, when it was broadcast television's leading argument for continued relevance in the peak-TV era. The weekly legal cases — the show was resolutely procedural almost to the end — were still intelligently devised and briskly dispatched, but they felt familiar and not very urgent, and more than ever seemed to be lecturing viewers about current events," which was further "pummeled by cast defections and bad decisions."[71]

The finale episode of The Good Wife, "End", generated a divided reaction among viewers and critics, with many praising it as a fitting ending to a complex character[72][73] with others who argued of its ambiguity and absence of a conclusion – particularly with Alicia's love life. The finale drew controversy in its last scene when Diane Lockhart slaps Alicia Florrick for having betrayed her in court to save Peter from jail. Alicia is then left alone in a hallway before walking away to a future of uncertainty regarding her relationship with Jason, her career, and political life. Vanity Fair noting "As Breaking Bad famously tracked the evolution of Walter White 'from Mr. Chips to Scarface,' The Good Wife followed Alicia as she evolved into Peter. The Kings claim the show was 'moving in the direction where there wasn't much difference between who Alicia was and who her husband was.' Is Alicia a villain or an anti-hero? It's hard to quite see her that way after all the good she's done for so many seasons. But the inclusion of Will Gardner in the finale momentarily humanizes Alicia while also highlighting the idea that Alicia's transformation into Peter has been a longtime coming," and claiming that "the show's incredible finale belongs to an earlier age of television." Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker said "it was an ending that commanded respect."[74]

The ensemble cast of The Good Wife had been praised as "one of the best casts in television, and it was supplemented with an awe-inspiring array of guest stars — one way for the Kings to flaunt the advantages of a network budget. Half the cast of The Wire passed through its halls, as did more Broadway stars than there are in heaven," although at the end of the series the guest stars were increasingly placed in "throwaway roles."[75] However, with the exit of male lead Josh Charles (who played Will Gardner) in season five, Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya of The A.V. Club opined that the show's "writers really struggled to rebuild that same type of long-term emotional storytelling. His departure left a gap that was never fully filled again."[76] While reviewers acknowledged that Charles' departure was inevitable (and praised how Will was written off dramatically),[77] they questioned decisions made by the writers for seasons six and seven that further hurt the show. Archie Panjabi's portrayal of Kalinda Sharma was well-regarded during the first three seasons, but Sonia Saraiya of Salon felt that her character ended up sidelined by a much-criticized plotline in seasons four to six, amid a rumored rift between Panjabi and producer Julianna Margulies where they did not share any screen time for their final 50 episodes.[68] In season seven, longtime stalwarts like Cary Agos and Diane Lockhart were reportedly[according to whom?] marginalized to irrelevance with a lack of compelling storylines, in favor of promoting new characters like Lucca Quinn and Jason Crouse.

TV ratings

Season Episodes Timeslot (ET) Original airing Rank Viewers (in millions)
Season premiere Season finale TV season
1 23 Tuesday 10:00 pm September 22, 2009 May 25, 2010 2009–10 18 13.12[78]
2 23 September 28, 2010 May 17, 2011 2010–11 16 13.00[79]
3 22 Sunday 9:00 pm September 25, 2011 April 29, 2012 2011–12 26 11.83[80]
4 22 September 30, 2012 April 28, 2013 2012–13 27 10.98[81]
5 22 September 29, 2013 May 18, 2014 2013–14 23 11.43[82]
6 22 September 21, 2014 May 10, 2015 2014–15 22 12.17[83]
7 22 October 4, 2015 May 8, 2016 2015–16 27 10.84[84]

DVR ratings

Season Averages in Live+7 DVR Ratings:

Awards and nominations

Main article: List of awards and nominations received by The Good Wife

Robert King, Michelle King, Julianna Margulies, Christine Baranski, Mary Beth Peil, Matt Czuchry and David Zucker of The Good Wife at the 70th Annual Peabody Awards
Robert King, Michelle King, Julianna Margulies, Christine Baranski, Mary Beth Peil, Matt Czuchry and David Zucker of The Good Wife at the 70th Annual Peabody Awards

The series and its cast have won a number of awards. Julianna Margulies has been widely recognized for her portrayal in the lead role, winning the Primetime Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award, Critics' Choice Television Award, TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Drama, and twice for the Screen Actors Guild Award. The series has also been nominated for five Golden Globe Awards in its first four seasons, with Margulies winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama for the first half of the first season in 2010. In addition, the series won a Peabody Award in 2010,[92] and has been thrice nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series and twice nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series. In total, the series and its cast have been nominated for 35 Primetime Emmy Awards in its first five seasons.

In 2010, Archie Panjabi won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her portrayal as Kalinda Sharma. In 2011, Julianna Margulies won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her portrayal as Alicia Florrick. In 2012, Martha Plimpton won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her portrayal as Patti Nyholm. In 2013, Carrie Preston won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for playing Elsbeth Tascioni. Nathan Lane was nominated for his guest role as Clarke Hayden. In 2014, Julianna Margulies won her second Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her work on The Good Wife with the winning episode "The Last Call". On December 12, 2013, the series received three Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Television Series – Drama, Best Actress – Television Series Drama (Margulies), and Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries, or Television Film (Charles).[93] On May 28, 2014, the series was nominated for five Critics' Choice Television Awards for Best Drama Series, Best Actress in a Drama Series (Margulies), Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Charles), Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Baranski), and Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series (Preston).[94]

Broadcast

On October 7, 2009, CBS gave the series a full-season pickup, extending the first season from 13 to 22 episodes,[95] later extended to 23 episodes.[96]

Syndication

The Good Wife has been sold in a complex multi-window deal that involves two streaming partners, Amazon and Hulu; a basic cable network, Hallmark Channel; for $400,000 per episode and broadcast syndication, for a combined license fee of nearly $2 million per episode. "This is an off-network model for a unique serialized show in today's television ecosystem," said Leslie Moonves, President and CEO, CBS Corporation.

Under the deal, the first six seasons of The Good Wife are available on Amazon Prime. Hulu Plus rolled out previous seasons of the show in September 2013, while Hallmark Channel, which reportedly paid $350,000 and $400,000 per episode,[97] began airing The Good Wife in January 2014. However, not long after premiering on the Hallmark Channel the show was pulled from the schedule.[98] A weekend broadcast syndication run is scheduled to begin in September 2014, with the series sold in 85% of the country.[99][100]

The show received an average of 331,000 viewers on Hallmark Channel.[101]

International

Spin-off

Main article: The Good Fight

Michelle and Robert King stated in February 2016 that there was a possibility for a spin-off series.[106] By May, CBS was in final negotiations to set up a spin-off, featuring Christine Baranski reprising her role as Diane Lockhart, that would air on streaming service CBS All Access instead of the network,[107] and it was officially ordered to series on May 18 with Cush Jumbo returning as well.[108]

In September 2016, it was confirmed that the 10-episode series would premiere in February 2017. The story picks up a year after the final episode of the original series, with Diane pushed out of her firm after a financial scam wipes out her savings, resulting in her move to Lucca Quinn's firm. Sarah Steele was also added to the cast, returning as Marissa Gold and appearing as Diane Lockhart's secretary-turned-investigator.[109][110] In October 2016, former Game of Thrones star Rose Leslie was confirmed to play the role of Diane's goddaughter Maia, and Delroy Lindo was added as Adrian Boseman.[111][112] Paul Guilfoyle and Bernadette Peters were cast as Maia's parents.[113] The series' title The Good Fight was announced on October 31, 2016.[114]

International remakes

The Good Wife has been adapted or remade in various countries:

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Further reading