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By Barry Garron
It is a fascinating question: Why do all those cheated-on politicalwives stand there and take it? They always look so meek andtolerant of their husbands’ infidelities. It doesn’t matter whetherthe cheater is a Democrat or Republican or if the wife has areputation as a feminist or a believer in traditional genderroles.
Under the glare of the spotlight, they all appear to come fromStepford. Why don’t they do what millions of nonpolitical wives do– call the guy a skunk and find a divorce lawyer who can point himto the cleaners?
“The Good Wife,” in which Julianna Margulies plays the wife of aphilandering Cook County state’s attorney (guest star Chris Noth),spends little time wrestling with this question. There is a point,though, when the character confesses that she, too, wondered aboutthe timid responses of other publicly humiliated wives. In her owncase, she says, she was merely caught “unprepared.”
That might be as good an answer as any. In any event, it is aterrific springboard to a series that is appealing — evencompelling — in a variety of ways.
There could not be a better choice for the title role of AliciaFlorrick than Margulies. Through words spoken and unspoken, shepaints a detailed, moving portrait of a woman whose largelyprivate, well-ordered life is suddenly and publicly shattered. Nowevery stranger has an opinion about her and her jailed husband.Meanwhile, her husband’s transgressions and possible criminalityhave become fodder for endless TV broadcasts.
Alicia was a lawyer before she quit 13 years earlier to raise twochildren. Six months after the scandal breaks, she returns to workto support her family. She soon discovers that former colleagueshave moved up the partnership ladder and that she must share thelowest rung with a recent and highly competitive law schoolgraduate.
The premiere deftly combines an introduction to Alicia and hersituation with an intriguing case about a teacher who is retriedfor the murder of her former husband. Her work on the pro bono caseturns out to be a test of Alicia’s legal acumen and her ability tonavigate treacherous office politics.
There also are smart scenes with Alicia’s children. They arewritten with commendable restraint by creators Robert and MichelleKing. And there’s a complicated dynamic between Alicia and hermother-in-law (guest star Mary Beth Peil), who urges compassion forher son while she helps out with the kids.
CBS scheduled “Wife,” a show with built-in female appeal, following”NCIS” and the new spinoff, “NCIS: Los Angeles.” Very smart. Maleviewers who stick around for this new drama might find themselveshooked.
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