‘The Good Wife’ Makes the Political Personal

BY Arts Desk  October 6, 2009 at 1:22 PM EST

It’s a now familiar tableau: The politician’s wife stands silently by her husband as flashbulbs pop and reporters shout questions. When he’s finished his statement, she and he can duck out out the room, but not out of the headlines, ending the speculation but not the personal turmoil.

The scene has become so iconic to American audiences that the opening of the new CBS drama ‘The Good Wife’ feels less like network drama and more like cable news. Alicia Florrick (played by Julianna Margulies) is an attorney turned dutiful political wife whose husband’s sex tape with a prostitute lands him in prison and her back in the workforce. The show picks up where the real life stories often get obscured for voters — now viewers.

“We were not the only ones in the nation wondering what these wives of scandal were thinking,” says Michelle King, one of the show’s creators and writers. “A lot of people would like to know, ‘All right, what is she thinking about her marriage, and what does she do next?’”

In “The Good Wife,” viewers watch Alicia try to salvage her family in the wake of a very public scandal, and, more than a dozen years out of the courtroom, to restart her career (a difficult economic reality of the recession that the show’s other creator, Robert King, notes is happening within a lot of families right now).

Watch the opening scene of the series, starring Julianna Margulies and Chris Noth as State Attorney Peter Florrick:

 
To discuss the opening press conference scene, “Good Wife” creators/writers and real life couple, Robert and Michelle King, joined us by phone from Los Angeles:

In the second scene from the pilot, Alicia confides in her new law firm’s investigator Kalinda, played by actress Archie Punjabi. The show gets to pose questions that the general public never got to ask Silda Spitzer or Hillary Clinton. Here, the viewer is provided with the opportunity to ask a wronged political wife: how did you stand there during that press conference without, as one character puts it, wanting to stick a knife in his heart?

Watch the scene starring Julianna Margulies and Archie Punjabi:

 
Listen to Michelle and Robert King discuss the scene, and the confusion between the public lives and private lives of politicians and their families:

“The Good Wife”, now on its third episode, airs Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. EST on CBS.