The new Lexus IS compact executive saloon is sponsoring drama on Channel 4 and to mark the tie-up, we’re taking a look at the boundary-pushing shows associated with the bold model. This week we take a look at The Good Wife, now in its fifth season.
Legal dramas are scattered liberally throughout the history of American television. From the likes of Perry Mason in the late 50s, through 80s TV classic LA Law to Law and Order, the legal drama is a genre that has always chimed with audiences.
The Good Wife continues that fine tradition, but it comes with its own contemporary twists and reflects a number of modern concerns.
The story concerns Alicia Florrick, played by Julianna Margulies (previously best known for her role as nurse Carol Hathaway in long-running medical drama ER).
At the start of Series One, Alicia is a wife and mother returning to the legal profession after bringing up her kids, the move necessitated by her husband, the Illinois state attorney, being jailed after a sex and corruption scandal.
Publicly humiliated, she becomes a junior associate at a Chicago law firm Lockhart Gardner, where a former college lover, Will Gardner, is a partner.
Naturally, Alicia, despite her lack of self-confidence at resuming a career in law after years as a stay-at-home-mum, is a gifted lawyer, her maturity and life experience giving her an edge, compared with the other juniors that she finds herself in competition with for a position as an associate partner.
Part of the series’ success is undoubtedly the feminist undercurrent and Margulies’ sympathetic portrayal of a working single mother resuming a career and juggling home and a time-consuming career. The debate about whether women can indeed ‘have it all’, as they were promised by magazines in the 70s and 80s is brought into sharp focus by Alicia’s weekly dilemmas.
But she not only has to contend with her work/life balance: there are also affairs of the heart. Does she stand by her man, husband Peter Florrick (played by Chris Noth, Mr Big from Sex and the City), who was caught visiting call girls, or resume her relationship with Will, who is now her boss?
Who to look out for
Julianna Margulies’ performance as Alicia Florrick is absolutely spot-on. She manages to portray the multiple dimensions of the character – lawyer, mother, wife, lover – to good effect, portraying Alicia as a hugely sympathetic person.
However, the series has been slightly stolen by British actress Archie Panjabi, who plays Lockhart Gardner’s in-house investigator Kalinda Sharma. She’s a tough, no-nonsense, sharp cookie, but is also secretive, with a somewhat murky past gradually emerging as The Good Wife’s seasons unfold. Her ambivalent sexuality and love of leather boots also lends her an allure, to both other characters and audiences.
And look out for Michael J Fox, who pops up as a very cunning rival lawyer a couple of times each season to do battle with Alicia.
Season Five, which started airing on More4 on January 30, sees Alicia on the verge of jumping ship to start her own law firm.
Peter has also bounced back, his career on the rise, Alicia’s public refusal to condemn him allowing him a shot at political redemption with the Illinois electorate.
Will Alicia commit to Peter and a new firm, or will the draw of Will and a full partnership at Lockhart Gardner be too strong for her?
You can find out more about the Lexus IS range by visiting the designated section of the Lexus UK website. If you’d like to get behind the wheel, leave a comment below, and we can arrange a test drive for you.