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Thursday, March 4, 2010

‘The Good Wife’ – Anybody else smell a set-up?

Updated (twice) below.

I watched the TV show The Good Wife for the first time on Monday night. It’s a cross between a law-firm melodrama (when did that become a genre?) and the now-ubiquitous, forensic-science whodunit. Generally, the ‘who’ that ‘dunit’ in any of these shows will almost always be the white, heterosexual, conservative businessman, or whichever suspect comes closest to that archetype.

A guest character, played by actor Gary Cole, was introduced in this episode. The character is a ballistics expert that works for defense lawyers and he is very, very good. He refuses to work on cases if he believes the client is guilty; he does not charge high rates; and in the episode he promptly, efficiently and decisively showed the murder could not have occurred the way the prosecution alleged. He is a ruggedly handsome, outdoorsy, together sort of fellow. You can imagine he drives a perfectly restored old pick-up truck to his log-cabin home (where he has a spotless and functional personal ballistics lab). The sexual tension between him and one of the show’s main characters (law partner Diane Lockhart, played by actress Christine Baranski) hints that we will see him again later this season.

So what is the ‘set-up’ I smell? First of all he is too perfect. You rarely have this sort of male character in modern American TV unless he, as noted above, turns out to be the murderer. It’s kind of a rule. But in this case it’s even worse than that. Did I mention our guest ballistics expert is a political conservative with a picture of Sarah Palin on his desk? Did I further mention his name is Kevin McVeigh? McVeigh. That name’s familiar, isn’t it?

‘The Good Wife’ credits list Tony and Ridley Scott as executive producers. The Scott brothers are not famous for their support of conservative issues, and to the best of my knowledge are not great fans of the former governor of Alaska. Besides Sarah Palin, there is much the modern entertainment industry cannot abide. On the list of things that must not be allowed to stand are: strong, non-dysfunctional white, heterosexual men who are blatant political conservatives and who are attractive to powerful women characters on TV shows.

My prediction is that when we see McVeigh again, he will end up being very, very weird. He will be a criminal, some sort of sexual deviant, a psychotic, or a combination of all of the above. You can’t allow guys like him to run around on TV, giving people the impression there are stable, competent, honorable, conservative men in the world.

UPDATE: See comment from Robert King. Two things come to mind: a) I would love to be completely, totally wrong, and b) who in heck is Robert King, and how does he know about this post so fast? I didn't know anybody actually read my blog.

NEW UPDATE: So I searched for "Robert King" AND "The Good Wife". He is, uh, one of the creators of the show. Wow. Robert: I'll take your word for it. You just got one more viewer for the rest of Season 2.


Robert said...

Dear Agim,

Actually, we're creating that character to be exactly what he seems: a strong Gary Cooper professional with a smart and competent outlook on his job. In other words, it's not a set-up. And this isn't really a spoiler, because we're really not trying to hint at anything. There are truly honest and direct people in this world: who hold truth over everything else. And we think McVeigh is one of them. In fact, the episode is more a satire of liberal attitudes toward people who hold opposing political views. Diane (played wonderfully by Christine Baranski) finds herself misjudging him, thinking he's a hick, then finding this country-loving, gun-toting expert is just as competent-- if not more competent-- than the people at the firm. And he's not really doing it for the money. He's a truth-seeker. Anyway, enjoyed your commentary, but I just needed to jump in for a minute. Thanks for listening.

--Robert King

Glenn Knight said...

It is interesting to find out how seriously the entertainment industry takes online commentary. I wrote a review of one of John Sandford's "Prey" novels, and I shortly received an e-mail from his web master (and son). He searches the web regularly for any mention of Sandford's name or those of any of his books.