If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already watched the newest Good Wife episode (i.e season 5, episode 15) If not, please turn around and quickly vacate the area, unless being spoiled is your particular thing, then by all means stay. Stay and ruin your life.
So yeah, Will’s dead now. Did you see that coming? I for one certainly did not. Nor did a lot of people. Show creators Michelle and Robert King were evidently aware of how fricking out of the blue, unexpected and just plain upsetting this was going to be for viewers, so – not long after the episode aired – this open letter appeared on The Good Wife’s Facebook page (which I inadvertently read before viewing the episode, d’oh):
So, there you have it. The apparent reasons why Will just had to die. I think it’s cool that Robert and Michelle took the time to address the reasons they thought this would be best for the show, but at the same time I wish it hadn’t been necessary. I understand that some people are going to be upset when you kill off a main characters (hence the top comment on this particular post being “I will never recover from this :(” ) however, even just from a critical thinking perspective, I don’t think the show creators shouldn’t have to justify or explain themselves when it comes these kinds of creative decisions. I think that the work should speak for itself. I know not everyone feels this way, I guess I’m just the kind of gal who likes it when a director or writer gives a vague and uninformative response when somebody asks what a particular moment in their work is supposed to signify.
All that said, although it’s sad, I think this could be a very good thing for the show. The fact that at the beginning of the letter Michelle and Robert iterate that at its heart, The Good Wife is “The Education of Alicia Florrick” illustrates that beyond the sexy scandals and client stealing, they still haven’t lost sight of what makes the show so appealing – at least, to viewers like me. I like the Good Wife because it chronicles a woman’s struggle to make it in a man’s world. While Alicia isn’t exactly an underdog, her being a white, middle class woman with some powerful connections – it still isn’t an easy task for her to make her mark as a lawyer. We root for Alicia through her highs and lows and through her having to make decisions that a man in her position would never have to make, all the while praying that she’ll succeed – because it isn’t very often that we get to see a female character like this in a TV show, not least as the main protagonist.
A large part of Alicia’s struggle throughout the show has been her relationship with Will Gardner. Which again, is something that certainly wouldn’t be as scandalous if she were a man in the same position. However, because she is a wife to a politician (who is also a cheating, morally dubious jackass, but he’s a man so that’s fine) , mother and working woman, Alicia has to be very careful when it comes to making decisions, especially regarding her personal life. One step out of place could ruin everything, not least the front of perfect wife and mother she has spent the past few years cultivating. I’m sure I’m not mistaken in saying that most viewers of The Good Wife have been longing for Alicia and Will to just get together properly, once and for all. Though, I think that the beginning of this season showed that this wasn’t going to happen, at least not for a while, and now – not ever.
Yes, it’s all very sad, but I think removing Will from the equation entirely will be the perfect opportunity for the writers to showcase just how much Alicia has grown as a character and how much she can grow without him. It’s also a chance for them to show us that there is more to the story beyond the ongoing sexual tension between Alicia and Will. Although this tension was sexy, fun and often agonising, there was definitely a danger of this complicated relationship overshadowing what the show is truly about, that is, the “Education of Alicia Florrick”. It will be interesting to see how Alicia deals with the news of Will’s death. Will it encourage her to start living her life for herself? To ditch her lowlife husband altogether and to live beyond the restrictions of her old life where constant perfection in all areas was a necessity for her success and survival?
Some people have been saying that the death of Will signifies the death of the show as a whole, I really hope this isn’t the case and I don’t think it will be. I feel like making such an assertion is missing the point of The Good Wife entirely.