THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

TV Review: The Good Wife

ON WIFEDOM

"He'll know how much it costs to rape someone and
get away with it," Christie Barbosa (Paloma Guzman) says to her lawyers, namely
Alicia Florrick, to justify how, even as a struggling stripper, she'll turn
down an almost half-million dollars in an out-of-court settlement. Fewer than two
percent of women lie about sexual assault, but as the one-hour drama is art
imitating life, the rape victim's motives are questioned in more detail than
those of her rapist, a sleazy, entitled politician named Lloyd McKean. Alicia
discovers more tidbits (also known as conflict of interest) about McKean when
visiting her husband Peter in jail before work, one morning, the way one might
sneak in a jog.

McKean and the District Attorney's office make it difficult
for our "young" associate to secure evidence, instead explicitly
deriding Alicia about her husband's infidelity. Several times, sexual violence,
infidelity and rape, are mentioned as interchangeable, at least Alicia briefs her cohorts, however flatly, that how power issues and "isms" fall on a continuum.

She does feel insecure enough to ask a personal question
when gather evidence at an escort service, why men pay to be sexually serviced,
and why some services, like not wearing a condom, are more expensive?" The
assistant at the escort service explains that boys will be boys and they ask
for, "What ever they can't get at home." Men could try springing these
special requests on their wives before giving them (or the escorts) HPV.

Weaved into the main story about a rape case, are the
questions for the wife and children of a politician's sex scandal, including
being forced to see and hear graphic images one would rather not view under
kosher circumstances. Peter remains clueless to the impact of his behavior and
during a visit asks her, "When are you going to stop thinking I have sex
with everyone? When are you going to forgive me?" Alicia can't answer what
must be a rhetorical question, although she does ask him several of her own,
like, where he was at their daughter's Grace's 12th birthday party, when he "had"
to leave early. Not a wisp of her hair falls out of place. (Although, this is a
woman who goes to bed caked in makeup.)

The judge is a white male, so liberal, Alicia's boss, jokes
that he, "makes Ralph Nader look like Rush Limbaugh." The Judge even
forces the court to take a moment of silence to reflect on those in Darfur. (If
some one that progressive would warm the bench, let it be known that they
should sport a plastic bracelet or ribbon pen. Nothing says compassion like
accessories.)

He isn't as progressive when it comes to sexual violence and
refuses to re-examine a DNA sample, evidence that would better resolve a sexual
assault case than eyewitness testimony. The idea that a liberal male might still
be sexist is not news, but The Good Wife deftly hints at how even the most well
meaning of us, men and women, aren't always well doing.

The show ends without answering why a spurned woman would be
an effective champion for a sexual assault case, although it implies that
empathy is one of the unwritten duties. Wives don't do good or bad acts, they
are good or bad, and to be a good wife means to be sexually frustrated, able to
see the imbalances of power and dance around them, but not (yet) able to solve
them. The answer probably won't lie in future episodes of The Good Wife or on
Oprah or a Sarah Palin bipoic, but at least The Good Wife asks substantive
questions.