CBS’ “The Good Wife,” which returned to the Golden Globes race for drama series after a two-year absence, continues to defy gravity, garnering some of its strongest reviews in its fifth season.
Once again, the Julianna Margulies starrer was the only Big Four network show to crack the top drama series category. In a world of high-concept, niche-targeted shows, perhaps the most convention-busting aspect of “Good Wife” is its relative lack of showy storytelling.
The show has always been a blend of character drama and procedural-light storytelling. On “Good Wife” it’s not so much case of the week as it is “case every other week,” quips Robert King, co-creator and showrunner with Michelle King.
The secret sauce for season five, in the Kings’ view, has been the end of the long-running love triangle among Margulies’ Alicia Florek, her philandering husband Peter and her former law partner Will, played by Josh Charles, and the new rancor between Alicia and Will. Charles landed his first Globe nom Thursday, while Margulies nabbed her fifth consecutive nom (she won in 2010).
“It’s been exciting to turn the Alicia and Will relationship inside out,” Robert King said, praising the work of his actors and the camaraderie that exists on the set. “There’s an odd chemistry that comes about through actors who really do like each other and embrace each other’s skills. This season we’ve flipped that on its head to show that chemistry in reverse.”
At its core, “Good Wife” has always been about the complexities of adult relationships, and as any drama writer will tell you, that’s hard to make compelling without ultra-soapy plot devices. Cable competitors also have more luxury to be more out-there and to target a more narrow demographic.
“The things we love most about our favorite cable shows are the specificity: ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Sons of Anarchy’ — these shows are so specific about trying to hit a certain mark,” Robert King said. “With a network show you have to please a lot more sensibilities.”
The pair credit CBS execs at the network and studio for unwavering (and un-meddling) support of their vision.
“What’s been fun about this season is we’ve been able to create so much drama without leaving the realm of reality,” Michelle King said. “It does feel exactly like what these characters would be doing at this stage in their lives. Julianna and Josh are just so brilliant.”
As a broadcast drama, of course, the “Good Wife” team keeps nose to the grindstone every year turning out 22 episodes compared to 10-13 for most of its cable drama competition. The Kings admit they are envious of the cable sked (“We want a life,” Robert quips) but on another level the fast pace is good for “Good Wife’s” brand of storytelling. After exulting in the news of “Good Wife’s” Globes haul, the Kings went right back to the writers’ room to labor on episode 15.
“It’s kind of like being a newspaper,” Robert King said. “It’s a challenge but the rushed schedule allows you to stay up to date. We can touch upon things that happened just a month ago. We are always trying to guess where the zeitgeist is going. I don’t want to lose that feeling of being so contemporary.”