After 7 Seasons, CBS Says Goodbye To 'The Good Wife'

May 6, 2016
Originally published on May 6, 2016 7:09 pm
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A hero's journey comes to an end this Sunday. She is the good wife. The CBS drama ends Sunday after seven seasons. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans considers it TV's best depiction of a woman coming into her own.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: To understand how far "The Good Wife" has come, let's take a look at where it started.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE GOOD WIFE")

CHRIS NOTH: (As Peter Florrick) Good Morning. An hour ago, I resigned as state's attorney of Cook County. I did this with a heavy heart and a deep commitment to fight these scurrilous charges.

DEGGANS: That's Peter Florrick, played by Chris Noth. In the first episode, he resigns at a press conference after being caught patronizing prostitutes.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE GOOD WIFE")

NOTH: (As Peter Florrick) I need to atone for my personal failings with my wife, Alicia, and our two children.

DEGGANS: And his wife, Alicia, is played by Julianna Margulies. She endures standing by his side, just like Mrs. Spitzer or Mrs. Sanford in real life. But when the Florricks left the stage, Peter had a question for Alicia that got an unexpected answer.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE GOOD WIFE")

NOTH: (As Peter Florrick) Hey, you all right?

DEGGANS: She slaps him. That moment reveals the tough resolve at the heart of Alicia's character, resolve that enables her to rebuild her life in defiance of constant small humiliations.

But something's happened in the years since that pilot first aired. Alicia Florrick has come into her own. Consider this scene from a recent episode where Alicia coaches Peter for cross-examination in yet another corruption trial. He thinks she's taking potshots at their marriage.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE GOOD WIFE")

NOTH: (As Peter Florrick) At what point are we playing husband and wife here and what point lawyers?

JULIANNA MARGULIES: (As Alicia Florrick) You get up on that stand and every past indiscretion will be determined admissible. You're sleeping with Geneva Pine.

NOTH: (As Peter Florrick) I didn't sleep with Geneva...

MARGULIES: (As Alicia Florrick) You're sleeping with Marilyn Garbanza.

NOTH: (As Peter Florrick) I didn't sleep with...

MARGULIES: (As Alicia Florrick) You are sleeping with Ramona Lytton.

NOTH: (As Peter Florrick) And you sleeping with Will Gardner and you sleeping with your investigator.

MARGULIES: (As Alicia Florrick) I'm not on trial buddy.

DEGGANS: You tell him sister. Now it makes sense that "The Good Wife" is ending now. Alicia has become the person she's always wanted to be. She's grown from an uncertain associate to a partner at the law firm which first hired her. She survived scrutiny from the NSA, frenemies at work and the decision to end her marriage. She's founded her own law firm, been elected and resigned as state's attorney herself and much more. She even survived this moment when a friend tells her the unrequited love of her life, former law partner Will Gardner, is dead.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE GOOD WIFE")

ARCHIE PANJABI: (As Kalinda Sharma) Will's been shot.

MARGULIES: (As Alicia Florrick) He - what do you mean?

PANJABI: (As Kalinda Sharma) There was gunfire at the courthouse and he was shot.

MARGULIES: (As Alicia Florrick) Will - Will is dead. I can't...

DEGGANS: Those feelings resurface when Alicia learned that Will had left a message declaring his love for her that was erased before she could hear it.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE GOOD WIFE")

MARGULIES: (As Alicia Florrick) And then I just sit here in this stupid little apartment wondering what the hell happened to my life. Was it all about having two kids who I don't even know if I like? Seriously, was that the point? I just - I hurt, and I want it over. I just want it to end.

DEGGANS: Fortunately, Alicia came back from that dark place to reach for a new romance and a new life. When it comes to well-developed female characters, TV critics often use the word agency. It's a way of describing a character who makes decisions and who makes things happen as opposed to always having things happen to them.

Over its seven seasons, "The Good Wife" has taken a character seen in American culture mostly as a victim, the betrayed political wife, and given her real agency. I think that's what I'll miss most once the credits roll on the last new episode on Sunday night. I'm Eric Deggans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.