Some great shows are close to perfect, but for others, their greatness lies in their messy ambition. This May will mark the final season of The Good Wife’s seven-season run, a show that will be remembered for its glorious imperfection. Created by Robert and Michelle King, the acclaimed CBS legal drama — widely referred to as the best drama on broadcast television — overflowed with ideas and storylines, many of which simply did not work. Like the show’s conflicted protagonist Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), The Good Wife was flawed and often unsure of itself.
If you loved The Good Wife, there were likely some things you did not care for — and at least one subplot you fast-forwarded through. (God bless the invention of the DVR.) Here are the show’s 11 biggest mistakes, in no particular order. And if these mistakes were enough to lose your attention, maybe these other shows like The Good Wife will do a better job of capturing it.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged by fans of The Good Wife that the show ran out of good material for Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) during its fourth season — as rumors brewed of behind-the-scenes tensions between Panjabi and star Julianna Margulies. The actresses stopped appearing in scenes together, which was problematic considering their characters’ friendship was long the emotional core of the show.
That meant the writers were forced to introduce a series of ludicrous plots to keep Kalinda busy; these included babysitting for a drug lord and that episode where she’s tasked with finding a “white guy” on the inside when Cary is sentenced to prison. (Yeah, that happened.)
But when it comes to giving Archie Panjabi busy work, the most egregious example is when The Good Wife gifted Kalinda an abusive ex-husband on her doorstep. Nick Saverese (Marc Warren), a British truck magnate, briefly shows up to give Kalinda long, threatening looks and engage in violent foreplay.
The two have a creepy, vaguely sadomasochistic relationship that stops the show dead in its tracks with its sheer awkwardness. In the show’s worst scene ever, the two share an ice cream cone, before Kalinda sticks her fingers in it. If you have to ask where those fingers had been, please don’t. Spare yourself.
The Good Wife routinely struggled to surround Kalinda with characters as compelling and complex as she was (see also: Robyn), and it meant she was stuck with a lot of half-baked subplots that went nowhere fast. Before Nick showed up to make viewers hate soft serve, there was Blake Calamar (Scott Porter), a morally compromised investigator with ties to Will Gardner, a partner at Alicia’s firm.
Porter is a fine actor and was better served as the good guy quarterback on Friday Night Lights, but his presence on The Good Wife quickly becomes an unwanted affliction, akin to a plague of locusts. Creators Robert and Michelle King did not seem to realize this, because Porter is on the show for a painfully long time: Blake spends 14 episodes (yes, it was that many) skulking around and attempting to stir up sexual tension — whilst framing Kalinda for an assault.
Whatever the hell was going on behind the scenes that led to this subplot, it couldn’t be nearly as bad as over half a season of watching Kalinda play “hide the baseball bat” with a smug prick.
You’re Alicia. You’ve finally been made a partner at your firm — one of the largest in Chicago — due to a series of unforeseen events. Do you a) bask in your successes and maybe take a vacation or a spa day b) work even harder at your job to show how badly you wanted this or c) throw it all away to run for state’s attorney — because hey, why not?
The Good Wife may have handled the sordid machinations of the law with grace, but it tended to tread with a heavy hand when it came to politics. During the show’s widely criticized sixth season, Alicia entered the state’s attorney race against the cartoonishly villainous James Castro (Michael Cerveris). However, Castro is quickly ousted in favor of Frank Prady (David Hyde Pierce), who isn’t much of an antagonist.
As Alicia routinely points out, Prady is a better candidate (and all-around person) than she is, and it makes it hard to root for her. The Good Wife barely cleans up the mess that was the state’s attorney race by having Alicia win — just to strip her of the title in scandal episodes later.
The cardinal rule of great television is that you follow your best characters. If you have a cast that’s as monumentally stacked as The Good Wife, you write great material for them - to give your roster of great actors and supporting players something, anything to do.
So why does the show write off half of its cast after the fifth season? While Alicia is busy running for state’s attorney, everyone else all but calls in sick. David Lee (Zach Grenier) moves to another firm before the show realizes how badly his presence is needed and surreptitiously brings him back. Eli Gold’s daughter, Marissa (Sarah Steele), gets more screentime than he does. Even Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) is sidelined, aside from a handful of preachy, ham-fisted episodes where she partners with a conservative think tank to teach them the value of tolerance.This isn’t even to mention Jackie Florrick (Mary Beth Peil), the mother-in-law fans love to hate, or Clarke Hayden (Nathan Lane), who isn’t even written off the show. He just disappears in season six. Maybe the writers ate him?