Reel-Life Law: The Good Wife

February 21, 2013

What – no Richard Briers?

Photo: Scott Free Productions











Now in its fourth series and scoring a healthy 8 out of 10 on IMDb, The Good Wife is proving that it’s not just another run-of-the-mill law drama.

Lynchpin of the show is Alicia Florrick (Julianna Marguiles – her from ER), a housewife turned trainee lawyer after state attorney husband Peter (Chris Noth) is sent to jail following a rather embarrassing sex and corruption scandal.

Yet another predictable triumph over the odds? Not quite. There’s more than meets the eye in this refreshing take on the legal world.

It’s all about the money, and not in a good way

It’s a tough market out there and even fictional law firms are struggling to stay clear of the financial crisis. Ms Florrick’s firm Lockhart & Gardner is in big trouble. $60m in debt, to be precise.

Teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the firm is compared on screen to Dewey & LeBoeuf (someone’s obviously been doing their homework). But unlike Dewey, Lockhart & Gardner is given a last minute reprieve and a court-appointed trustee to steer the firm through troubled waters.

That trustee, Clark Hayden (Nathan Lane), takes no prisoners, immediately making brutal staff and budget cuts. He even – shock horror! – starts hiring out the firm’s conference room.

Meanwhile the partners, like gamblers who’ve gone all-in because they’ve nothing left to lose decide to live on the edge and play for the highest stakes (i.e. settlements) in the hope that they can start to pay off their debts more quickly.

But, in a nice twist of realism often lacking in American drama, this doesn’t always work out.

Sex, lies and suspensions

There’s no chance of mistaking this drama for a fly on the wall documentary. There’s still the usual ensemble of ridiculously attractive staff, as well as good doses of affairs, prostitutes and promiscuous investigators.

And let us not forget good ol’ corruption. In a plot line from an Unprofessionals in Law article, top dog and named partner Will Gardner (Josh Charles) is faced with being disbarred for ‘borrowing’ $45,000 from a client’s account to pay his gambling debt. But in the light of his conscience making him return the money, he gets away with a six-month suspension instead. Of course.

The Good Wife is currently being aired on More4. KM

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