New Show Recap: The Good Wife, 6×01: Lawyer is the New Black

It’s been a long Summer, my friends, but The Good Wife is back and ready for action. 

No, but really, indeed. The season kicks off with 5 minutes of fast pasted, well-scripted, delicious TV action. Alicia says no to the States Attorney job, crushing Eli’s hopes, Cary tries to patch things up with Kalinda, Cary gets arrested, Cary misses the business meeting with Alicia and Diane about powering up the law firm to make it Florrick, Agos, and Lockhart.

Alicia, we have  a chance to make this the largest firm in the country run by women. Think about it.

So, Cary is in lockup, they wont give him his phone call or tell him why he was arrested. Consider this a reminder that this kind of thing happens to PoC every single day – it’s nothing less than a deplorable miscarriage of justice, and we should be ashamed.

Cary convinces a client of Canning and Lockhart to tell David Lee and Kalinda that he’s in lockup — Alicia finds out and attends the bail hearing, and she learns that Cary was arrested on felony drug charges for possessing 900 grams of heroin, and bail is set at $1.3 million. Ouch.

Eli pesters Alicia to poll for “her campaign,” she tells him no, and hangs up. Eli’s daughter, Marissa, is always a delight:

Marissa: I liked your old office better. This one looks like a dentist office.
Eli: We’re trying to save money.
Marissa: I thought Chicago was corrupt, can’t you just steal some more?

Peter takes a hard line on Alicia running for office (“Find another friendly face. It’s not my wife’s.”), Alicia talks to Mr. Bishop about Cary’s arrest, and Kalinda visits Cary in jail.

Cary: Any advice?
Kalinda: Find a friend.

Alicia and the partners struggle to pull together the bail, and when she’s pulled away to the bond reconsideration hearing, Finn succeeds in preventing Alicia from representing Cary due to a conflict of interest. Alicia heads straight to Diane, and David Lee and Canning discuss what Diane’s true intentions are: is she really retiring, or is she running to Florrick Agos?

Normally The Good Wife treats sexuality with respect, but there was a moment in this episode when it definitely did not. Kalinda meets Sophia on the sidewalk, and Sophia kisses her. The men nearby yell and holler, and when Kalinda pushes her away, Sophia says, “Oh, I’m just giving the boys something to fantasize about!” Here’s a hint, Good Wife writers. Women in relationships, women interested in women, do not kiss these women for the benefit of men. Ever. That kind of attitude is why I can’t even hold my partner’s hand in public, much less kiss her, because men will yell, approach us, and make very sexualized comments. Having Sophia say that she’s kissing Kalinda to arouse the nearby men cements the belief that women in relationships that preclude men are for the enjoyment and sexual gratification of men, which is harmful in a very concrete way.

And as it turns out, Sophia is working with the police – she called Kalinda the night Cary got arrested to keep her out of harm’s way. Kalinda figures out that there’s an informant in Bishop’s crew, and at that moment, Cary is being intimidated in jail by one of Bishop’s associates, who cuts Cary’s hand. Cary keeps his cool, so Bishop drops of a big bag of cash to pay his bail – but Finn objects to the bail in court, demanding a source of funds hearing. As the credits roll, Cary is being marched back to his cell.

The “will she or won’t she” question regarding Alicia and the States Attorney job continues to float overhead, as Peter tells Eli, “Ask Alicia if she’ll run.”

7 thoughts on “New Show Recap: The Good Wife, 6×01: Lawyer is the New Black”

  1. Yeah, “Faking It” is its own can of slimy worms. And right? I have trouble thinking of a sexual partner Kalinda’s had who hasn’t been insufferable!

    I do see what you’re saying – that the scene can pretty easily be interpreted as jarring, and thus, offensive. And yeah, it is really difficult to say that we have evolved enough to portray nuances and expect them to be received correctly.

    However, I think to ask this particular show – which is essentially about moral ambiguity – to clearly have “showed” that Sophia was wrong is asking it to become a different show entirely. One that clearly takes a stance on the moral motivations of its characters.

    When it comes to nuance, I personally think the best way to move to the point where nuance is mainstream is to portray it as if it can be widely understood. The Good Wife itself is intentionally written in a very smart, subtle way – and the Kings’ philosophy about this has always been voiced as: fear not, people will respond and appreciate the sophistication. And those that can’t appreciate the nuance – the show’s own brand of sexual or gender or moral ambiguity, in particular – well, they were never expected to sit at the table anyway.

    1. Again, I think you are totally spot on regarding the intent/tone of the show – but that particular scene just really, REALLY rubbed me the wrong way. I think I found it especially jarring as this is a “safe” show – one that addresses sexism and misogyny in a brilliant way, and that scene definitely did not address it adequately (in my opinion).

  2. I thought it was a power play on Sophia’s part. She didn’t do it for the guys, she did it to make Kalinda uncomfortable. That’s actually something I’ve noticed — Kalinda’s two most visible female lovers have both been untrustworthy, kind of obsessed with her at times, manipulative, and big on head games.

    1. Kalinda generally just has terrible taste in lovers, haha. Except Carey, I *guess*? I do not ship Kalinda/Carey though, I DO NOT.

      Yeah I think it was probably a power play, but it was a super gross one that I don’t think most women would actually pull. We get enough harassment from gross dudes, no way in hell are we going to try and ramp that up.

  3. I don’t think it follows that Sophia’s flippant attitude in the street scene towards Kalinda indicates that the show is not treating sexuality with respect.

    First, I think Sophia’s individual experience with her sexuality is different from the type of monogamous lesbian relationship you’re describing – as the character is married to a man and tends to treat her dalliances with Kalinda rather irreverently.

    Second, even if her actions were calculated to arouse or entertain her male colleagues – rather than simply getting a rise out of Kalinda, like I suspect – I don’t think that’s necessarily problematic, because her particular experience isn’t one that necessitates generalization. Further, I don’t think the show intends or succeeds in generalizing or cementing her experience by showing an instance of it. In fact, in the past, it’s always been a proponent of highlighting the individual feminine experience – take Caitlyn D’arcy’s decision to quit L/G to become a mother, Kalinda’s refusal to label her sexuality, or Alicia’s frequent justifications for staying with her husband – “This isn’t about women or the 50’s. This is about me.”

    I suppose the root of the disagreement comes down to whether or not one believes a sort of contractualism is necessary to portray the lesbian or bisexual experience in this day and age. Or to put it another way, it can be called a difference of the 2nd wave feminist perspective versus the 3rd wave feminist perspective:

    Is it still harmful to portray ‘bad’ lesbian/bisexual characters’? Should we all be feminist examples to one another? Or is it more valuable to portray a diversity of experience?

    Thanks for the review and the relevant questions it poses.

    1. I hear you, I do, but in a society where MTV is producing a show called “Faking It,” about girls who fake being attracted to women for male attention, we aren’t really there with the nuance. I see your point about Sophia, but straight dudes really do feel incredibly entitled to women’s bodies, and lesbians/bisexual women in same sex relationships are in no way excluded from that; instead, we are highlighted as a challenge, and that kind of flippant comment is inherently destructive. When I said that I couldn’t hold my partner’s hand in public, I wasn’t exaggerating. I timed it – it takes less than 10 seconds of holding her hand and walking down the street before whistles, catcalling, sexual harassment, and assault start to take place. This kind of “lol they do it for men” is what cements it in society. Whether it’s Sophia’s offhand remark, MTV’s “Faking It,” or college age women in bars, showing straight dudes that women date other women for their benefit just cements the idea that lesbians are sexually available to men – and we are not. And when we say we are not, we get assaulted, raped, and sometimes murdered.

      I can appreciate that we definitely SHOULD have varied characters that are multi-faceted. I appreciate that Kalinda has been fleshed out more than many bisexual women characters in the past, and I appreciate how the show takes a lot of care to make it about their CHOICE, rather than some imposed ideal, be it a patriarchal or a feminist one.

      I just thought that that particular scene was abrasive and jarring, but I’m sure many people just felt reinforced in their idea that even women in same sex relationships do it for male attention. If they wanted to show that Sophia was wrong, then, they should have really SHOWED it, instead of a 2 second face of disgust on Kalinda, and then moving on immediately.

      TL,DR; I hear you and you have several good points but I feel like the show messed up on this one.

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