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YMMV / The Good Wife

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Alicia Florrick. Is she a noble hardworking single mother who faces adversity with integrity and honesty? Or is she an inconsiderate Jerkass who believes justice is sternly the law and constantly indulges in kicking or shooting the proverbial dog?
      • Was she really in love with Will? She seems to think so after his death, but when they broke off the affair, she tells Owen that she was mostly in love with the idea of Will. Star-crossed lovers whose timing stayed terrible, or unhappy people dreaming of their unrealistically perfect relationship?
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    • Anything and anyone in the wake of Alicia and Cary forming their own law firm. Suffice to say, reactions and motivations are really anyone’s guess.
  • Arc Fatigue:
    • Blake investigating Kalinda. The producers admitted that Scott Porter’s schedule forced them to drag the story out longer than they’d planned.
    • Alicia and Kalinda’s reconciliation. Taking a year might have worked for realism’s sake, but without their chemistry as a cornerstone the whole third season suffered.
    • How many times can Colin Sweeney go back and forth over whether he killed his wife? Though it finally gets confirmed by his third wife in one episode after Alicia gets her acquitted of murder.
    • Kalinda being stalked and harassed by her Ex-Husband Nick. It doesn't help the storyline followed the same beats of Kalinda rebuffing him and the two threatning each other till they ended up sleeping together or him getting violently jealous of someone over and over again.
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    • Louis Canning constantly coming back to antagonize the firm.
    • Alicia’s election storyline in Season 6.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Averted in the critically-acclaimed fifth season; one of the main draws of the season was the sudden Grey-and-Gray Morality afflicting the main cast, between Cary and Alicia starting their own firm and stealing Lockhart/Gardner's clients, and Will and Diane behaving more and more reprehensibly in their pursuit of revenge and trying to stay afloat in the wake of the coup.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Kalinda Sharma. To the point that film studies students at Harvard have written essays about her.
    • Eli Gold, who seems to be staying on by merging his lobbying business with Lockhart/Gardner despite the election being over.
    • Elsbeth Tascioni has definitely turned into this, to the point where she got a significant role on The Good Fight.
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  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Will and Alicia.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Eli cracking about the various candidates in an early 2016 episode with "I don't know, I never thought Trump would get this far."
    • "The Debate" is about protests in Chicago over the Ferguson case and alleged police brutality against black people. Less than a year later, real-world Chicago had its own problems in that area.
    • In "VIP Treatment", a woman comes in accusing a powerful pro-female left-wing man of sexual impropriety. Leftist Diane is a fan, and struggles to not rationalize it away. note  In 2017, a number of sexual impropriety accusation scandals broke with big-name Hollywood leftists, including Harvey Weinstein and Louis CKnote . Also, there were a number of lower-profile incidents with male feminists, including one alleged murder. Unlike Diane, the feminist community's response to these scandals was basically complete and unequivocal condemnation.
    • In the pilot, Kalinda asks Alicia why she stayed with Peter after the scandal, then says she'd "stick a knife in his back" if her husband got caught in a cheating scandal. This seems less hyperbolic midway through season 4, when Kalinda's abusive husband shows up, causes trouble for a few episodes, and then mysteriously disappears without a trace.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Jackie, who reveals only in season 7 (in ‘Cooked’, to be specific) that her mother hated her laughter and made her eat a clove of garlic whenever she did. Suddenly her behaviour makes so much more sense.
    • Howard may or may not be this in season 7—he’s incredibly incompetent (or, as it’s implied, just plain lazy), but he keeps suffering ageist harassment, that is apparently so bad that in ‘Payback’, he shows Diane and Cary the adult diaper with the inscription ‘PROPERTY OF HOWARD LYMAN’ and the catheter in his drawers. Then again, Cary speculates he probably put them there himself. Though during this arc, Howard actually starts to work to earn his keep.
  • Les Yay: Pretty much canonical, albeit perhaps one-sided, between Alicia and Kalinda; at one point in season four, Kalinda’s estranged husband hears Kalinda on the telephone, and concludes, based on Kalinda’s tone of voice, that she is having an affair with the person on the other end of the line. Of course, he also concludes that the person is Cary, with whom Alicia shares an office, but we, the audience, know that it was really Alicia.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • Eli Gold, oh so very much.
    • Lemond Bishop. The man makes being a ruthless drug lord look so cool.
    • Louis Canning.
    • Colin Sweeney zigzags between this and Smug Snake.
    • Mike Kresteva. The man spins lies into convincing truths at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately for him, Peter Florrick is a better liar (and boxer, apparently).
    • David Lee and his M&Ms.
    • Cary Agos morphs into one after making name partner. One of his greatest hits? Faced with a group of associates planning to jump ship to Canning's firm (he and Alicia had previously succeeded at a similar move), he hires replacements, then gets them to come back for higher pay. Then the moment they're up to speed on the case, he fires them all and informs them they've been conflicted out of being able to work the case for Canning. Then he tops himself:
      Just-fired associate: Go to hell.
      Cary: (perfectly calm) Thank you, for giving me cause [to fire you].
  • Magnificent Bitch:
    • Patti Nyholm
    • Alicia is starting to show signs of this during Season 5
  • Narm: The scenes in Season 6 where Alicia and Kalinda actually spoke to each other earned this response from some. A few people noted that it looked as though the two shot their scenes at different times or on different stages, possibly as a result of the apparent feud between Margulies and Panjabi.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Watching ‘The Week After’ probably compelled more than a few people to put tape over their webcams. Also invoked In-Universe—the last scene involves Zack closing his webcam program just to make sure the green light goes out.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Josh Charles decided to leave the show, so the writers killed off Will in a sudden courthouse shooting. Though unlike most cases of this trope, the decision was made a year in advance, so the Kings constructed Season 5 to set up for it.
    • Somehow averted: Something happened behind the scenes (very little is known about it) leading to Archie Panjabi and Julianna Margulies not appearing onscreen at the same time for over 50 episodes. Normally the Kings would have adapted the storyline and found a reason why the characters are never seen together anymore, but the show is pretending that Kalinda and Alicia are still close friends, which is quite jarring.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • The Scrappy: Kalinda’s ex-husband Nick, a violent homophobe involved in shady dealings, who spends his screen time stalking her, trying to have sex with her, and getting jealous of whoever she’s with. On top of this his actor chews the scenery like their’s no tomorrow and scenes with him tend to both drag on and have no importance to what’s going on with any of the other characters. Hatred of him was so high that the character was shuttled off the show for a few episodes and then quickly Killed Off for Real after he came back.
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • Season 3 was considered a slight letdown from Season 2, featuring a more unfocused overall arc. Season 4’s first few episodes continued this trend with a storyline involving Kalinda’s husband that many fans disliked. Luckily, the second half of Season 4 and all of Season 5 rebounded from this greatly.
    • Season 6 earned accusations of this, though. Some criticisms included the lengthiness of Alicia’s election storyline (with very little payoff), the decision to shunt Cary to the sidelines midway through the season after giving his trial so much focus and weight early on, and the season finale introducing Louis Canning as a potential player ready to start a firm with Alicia, echoing the end of Season 4, where Cary did the same thing. Additionally, the apparent bad blood between Julianna Margulies and Archie Panjabi working its way into the show’s real-life plotting earned particular scorn, with some criticizing the show's attempt to elicit a passionate response toward Alicia and Kalinda’s friendship when the two hadn't been shown in the same frame with one another all season long.
  • Shocking Moments: As the name would indicate, ‘Hitting the Fan’. Also, Will’s sudden death, and the fallout from it.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Several characters have been brought in with significant fanfare, only to disappear a short while later. Notably, Taye Diggs had a four episode appearance in season six as a prominent lawyer who Diane wanted to bring with her as she joined Florrick-Agos. Much is made of him, and yet he disappears as suddenly as he came, without a word said about where or why he'd vanished.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: At the start of season seven, there was a new associate at the firm who mistook Cary's attempt to bond with the younger associates as flirtation. This generated some buzz about Cary being bisexual, which, given Kalinda's departure, some fans were happy to see as a possible storyline. However, it turned out to go nowhere, and the associate disappeared for several episodes, only to return, threaten to go to work with Canning, and get fired with his compatriots, with no mention of what happened between him and Cary. effectively ending any chance of that happening.
  • Values Dissonance: Kalinda is rather cynical about a jury consultant for using racial stereotypes, to which the rather obvious comeback is, ‘That’s what your firm pays me for.’ Honestly, you simply try to fix a jury in your favor, and look at the kind of amoral people you get.
  • Win Back the Crowd: As mentioned above, while Season 3 dropped a bit in quality, the second half of Season 4 (with episodes like ‘Red Team, Blue Team’, ‘Death of a Client’, and ‘What’s in the Box?’) and all of Season 5 (particularly the show’s 100th episode, ‘Hitting the Fan’), have received widespread acclaim.
  • The Woobie:
    • Alicia, at least until getting together with Will. And then Will dies, plunging Alicia straight back into this territory.
    • Diane Lockhart in Season 5. Peter screws her over and denies her the judgeship she always wanted. Her best friend dies. Lee and Canning plot to remove her as managing partner of her own company.
    • By ‘The Trial’, Cary, once the defence and Lemond Bishop finally force him into pleading guilty and going to prison for 2 years. Fortunately, Kalinda arranges for him to be spared, but she has to leave his life, and Chicago, for good.


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