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The Good Wife
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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Good Wife is about a woman who returns to the legal profession when her politician husband goes to jail after a highly publicized sex scandal. It deals with some mature themes, including illicit affairs and illegal activity. Expect plenty of not-so-subtle references to infamous real-life sex scandals, as well as frequent discussions of murder, occasional (and usually brief) reenactments of violent events, bloody crime scene photos, and social drinking. The language is fairly mild when it comes to swearing ("damn," “hell”), but there's plenty of talk about sex and related topics.
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What's the story?
In THE GOOD WIFE, when former Cook County State Attorney Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) is jailed for political corruption after a very public sex scandal, his wife Alicia (Julianna Margulies) accepts an offer from former law school friend Will Gardner (Josh Charles) to join his firm as a junior associate. As she begins to rebuild her legal career after 13 years away from the courtroom, she finds herself up against the legal profession's traditional “old boys' network” -- which is, ironically, occasionally made worse by female senior partner Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski). Luckily, Alicia gets some support from the firm’s in-house investigator, Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi). As Alicia works to prove herself professionally, she also struggles to protect herself and teenage children (played by Graham Phillips and Mackenzie Vega) from the public scandals while coping with her mother-in-law's (Mary Beth Peil) denial about her son's escapades.
Is it any good?
This series sets itself apart from other legal dramas because it's set within the backdrop of real-life political/sex scandals that have been sensationalized in the media. Because The Good Wife is told from Alicia's point of view, it establishes a strong, positive voice -- one that's presumably meant to represent the real-life political wives who publicly stand by their husbands but are usually never heard from. It also calls attention to the pain that these scandals -- and the media coverage they receive -- can cause.
While Alicia is a strong survivor, The Good Wife sends some mixed messages about women. It features women in a variety of domestic and distinguished professional roles, but it also shows them resorting to catty and/or desperate measures to get what they want. Meanwhile, Alicia's on-going efforts to support her husband politically and personally sometimes makes her appear more indecisive than empowered. Still, the show offers a well-developed and (unfortunately) timely drama that makes for solid primetime entertainment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why the media spends so much time reporting scandals, both in reality and in The Good Wife. Why do these stories receive so much attention? What kind of impact can publicity have on the personal lives of those associated with these stories?
What kind of impact does sexual content in the media have on viewers? How can parents keep kids who aren’t mature enough to handle this sort of thing from being exposed to it, especially when it's in the news?
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