As CBS’ “The Good Wife” wraps up its sixth season on Sunday, creators Robert and Michelle King say that next year will see Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) return to her roots, grappling with her role in public and private life after the humiliation of an aborted political career.
The Kings, speaking to Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM, said that the season finale will include some revelations, like the contents of a letter that Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi) left for her before leaving. “You are going to hear the subject matter” of the letter, Robert King says. “I don’t think you are going to hear the exact word for word.”
The past season saw Florrick run for Illinois’ state attorney, only to be forced to resign her post when she gets embroiled in an electoral scandal.
In season 7, he says, “We are interested in how politics can play out on a national level, how the law can be used for political ends, and Alicia, who is trying to learn what she did wrong and her failings. Now that her public image has been thrown in the trash can, how does she kind of relearn what or if she even wants to be on that public stage? Does she want to be more of an Aaron Sorkin character, who helps people? And is that even possible? Or does she have to marry up with evil people to do that?”
So why did the show short-circuit her career?
“What you are always struggling with in the show is trying to make Julianna’s character an underdog,” Robert King says. “At the beginning of the series, there probably couldn’t have been more of an underdog than Alicia, because there were so many ways where life had screwed her over. …Underdog status is always good in a hero.”
Michelle King says that “what is interesting to us is that we are going back to a humiliated Alicia, which is kind of where the series started, and we are kind of seeing the differences — what she has accomplished in six years and what she has learned and whether she has more tools to deal with it now.”
The Kings created the series in part after witnessing a parade of real-life political scandals, in which male politicians confessed sexual or political misdeeds with their wives standing, silently, by their sides. What they discovered was that some of those wives were lawyers — a dynamic they found intriguing.
Robert King says the show has explored the question of whether there can be “a political dynamic even in marriage that actually creates loyalty, oddly enough, maybe even more loyalty than if it were just based on sex and love.
“There is always a show like ‘West Wing’ that is kind of idealistic about politics,” he says. “We wanted to take a different tack. So much of what you hear is to blame Washington, D.C., when in fact everything you blame over there is happening in your office, happening in your home, happening in your marriage. It is really kind of happening all around you.”
King said that he will be watching Hillary Clinton’s campaign unfold to see if “she is going to be smarter than in 2008 — it does seem that she is.” Michelle King says that she will be watching to “see how she chooses to have her husband involved. It seemed like in the last campaign there was a double-edged sword quality to that.”
If the show has had an impact in politics, it may be in the art of the mea culpa.
“I think if there is one good thing we can do, if we can go to bed at night and feel good about ourselves, it is that [the show] has made it hard for politicians to use their wives in that way,” Robert King says. “But I think in another 12 years it will be back, because I don’t think anything is going to change. Politicians are going to continue to screw around, and screw around both sexually and also politically, and they will need their spouses. They will use their spouses like props.”
The Kings talk about how setting the show in Chicago has proven to be “the gift that keeps on giving,” and how the city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, inspired the character of Eli Gold (Alan Cumming).
Harry Thomason on Clinton 3.0
Producer Harry Thomason and his wife Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, longtime friends of Bill and Hillary Clinton, were responsible for some of the most memorable moments of the 1992 campaign, including the convention video “The Man From Hope.” As Hillary Clinton wages her next bid for the presidency, Harry Thomason says that the attacks on the couple never really abated from Bill Clinton’s time in the White House.
“I think it has been a self-sustaining, constant attack industry ever since they entered the race the first time,” he says.
The difference this time, he says, is that it is now all the more difficult to refute allegations given the proliferation of news and opinion outlets and platforms, compared to the handful of networks 23 years ago. The reports of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account and of foreign donors to the Clinton Foundation “is all going to be a significant problem because people are going to stay on it whether it is true or not. But in the end I think there is going to be no more than all the other charges that have been leveled against them.”
He does like Hillary Clinton’s campaign rollout, and says that if she or her husband “need us, we will be there.”
Thomason talks about the 2004 documentary he produced, “The Hunting of the President,” and why it may need a follow-up: Some of the fiercest attackers of the Clintons, like Richard Mellon Scaife, ended up supporting them, or even asking for their forgiveness.
Will Hollywood unite around Hillary? “I see unity in her candidacy in showbiz today,” Thomason says. “Ask me again next week. It may change because we people in showbiz are a fickle bunch.”
He adds, “I would rather be that than a lot of people in Washington, where once you’re dead, you’re dead. In Hollywood you are dead but if you have got a good script or if you perform in a good film, hey, your career is back on top.”
The Showbiz ATM
Variety’s David Cohen and political strategist Matthew Littman talk about Hillary Clinton’s round of Los Angeles fundraising with high-dollar donors, and whether it at all clouds her message of being a champion for the middle class.
“PopPolitics,” hosted by Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS.