She has finally had enough. The character modeled on the likes of the wife of the former New York governor, Silda Spitzer (who stuck by her husband after he resigned his office amid a call girl scandal) and other politicians’ wives whose husbands publically cheated on them and humiliated them, has been pushed too far.
As the second season of CBS’ The Good Wife draws to an end, Julianna Margulies’ character Alicia Florrick has decided she’s suffered one too many mortifications to justify remaining married to her ex-con husband Peter — who was just re-elected to the post of state’s attorney despite his prior public corruption charges — even if they do have two children together.
And as much as folks initially admired the fictional Alicia’s dedication to her family and her determination to remain married to her husband despite his infidelities, it was a visceral pleasure to watch Alicia slip out of her husband’s campaign victory party a few weeks ago — after learning that in addition to having 18 sexual interludes with a prostitute that Peter also slept with a colleague of Alicia’s — walk over the threshold of the Florrick family’s apartment and spontaneously pack up her husband’s belongings and move him into another domicile.
It was empowering to see Alicia transform her tears of betrayal — after she’d allowed her husband to return to her bed and after she’d given a television interview about how she’d forgiven Peter and loves him — into the steely face of determination. To discover that he’d slept with a woman, Kalinda, who’s become her best friend, was a crushing blow. It was likewise satisfying to witness Alicia calmly inform Peter that she’d paid the first three months’ of rent on his new apartment at the same time she told him she wanted a separation, mere hours after his triumphant political resurrection.
Later there was more delicious revenge to enjoy when Alicia turned down Peter’s offer to quit the state’s attorney’s post that he’d just won, as well as his offer to join him in marriage counseling if she’d reconsider the separation. Alicia told him that she would say “no” to “anything you ask and anything you say.” To which, instead of being sensitive to the depths of her emotional wounds, Peter accused her of sleeping with a male colleague of hers and told her she shared blame for their marital woes: “That’s what this is about, isn’t it? . . . There’ve been three people in this marriage every moment of the last two years, you’ve been thinking about him. Go ahead tell me that’s not true.” He then had the nerve to mock her for acting like the victim, the only one who’s “injured.”
“Say something that’ll make me fall in love with you again,” Alicia pleaded.
“Goodbye,” he replied. What a you-know-what.
While witnessing Alicia give Peter the boot, I wondered if this isn’t how many of us wish that the real wronged wives had been able to respond to their unfaithful spouses, a la Jenny Sanford, whose husband, the former governor of South Carolina, publically announced that he’d found a soul mate who was not his wife, who’s the mother of his four children. Isn’t this how we hoped that the late Elizabeth Edwards eventually responded to her estranged husband John, who’d initially told her he’d only had a fling, only she later learned it’d been a love affair which resulted in the birth of a child?
As The Good Wife has been mining the heartbreaking aftermath of news about another one of Peter’s indiscretions, Alicia has also had to weather criticism from her mother-in-law who not only attempted to interrogate the Florrick children about their parents’ break-up — and subtly blame Alicia for it — but told Alicia that Peter would likely get custody of those children because he’s the state’s attorney-elect. “Oh my God, you’re awful,” her mother-in-law said when Alicia requested that she call first before visiting her grandchildren. Yeah, Alicia’s the one who’s awful.
Hardest to bear have been the scenes with Aliciaand Kalinda since news of the fling reached Alicia. Alicia had grown close to Kalinda, an investigator with Alicia’s law firm, and had bonded with her during some of the particularly tumultuous times of her marriage, like when the call girl with whom Peter slept went on television and trashed Alicia, saying she was lousy in bed. It was gratifying to see Alicia, who’d been cut off and/or ostracized from her former friends in the aftermath of Peter’s affair and incarceration, enjoy a tight friendship with a smart, non-judgy woman. However once viewers learned that Kalinda had slept with Peter, you just knew it would end badly.
“Alicia I didn’t even know you, I’d never even seen a picture of you,” Kalinda said during a confrontation. “To me you were just a housewife. Then I met you and I liked you. I liked working with you. I liked talking with you. I felt bad.”
“Every step of the way you just looked at me, and you knew,” Alicia said.
Adding fuel to Alicia’s ire, during a recent episode a client told her that there was a porn movie based on Alicia’s life and the wives of other unfaithful politicians’ who’ve stood by their straying men. Her exquisite, wrenching, public pain was a sexual turn-on part of the male population. Not a comforting thought.
When asked her opinion on the fictional Florricks on The Good Wife, Jenny Sanford, who eventually divorced her husband, told the web site Politico: “I would venture to guess that seeing a woman move gracefully out of a bad marriage or personal situation and to systematically rebuild her life and career cannot help but to inspire and encourage other women who find themselves in similar situations.”
How much must Alicia tolerate? How much must any of the political wives who are embarrassed and pressured to stand next to her spouse in front of a bank of TV cameras (Spitzer, Edwards, Sanford, Clinton) endure before they find their own peace?
Go Alicia, go.