A decade ago, we were lucky to meet The Good Wife, Alicia Florrick, strong, wronged, standing by her man but also a little bit of a minx.

In case you missed the news, the 68-year-old Mayor of Toronto John Tory has just resigned. (Who?) He had an affair with a much younger staffer (of course) and apologised to his wife of 40 years for, well, getting caught mostly.

Or, as his rigid statement, says, “I recognise that permitting this relationship to develop was a serious error in judgement on my part.”

Who is John Tory? Doesn’t matter. He doesn’t matter. If the reference is dated, check the news. There’ll be another dope along in a minute.

It’s the wife you feel sorry for (the saying goes). Forty years traipsing behind a self-aggrandising loser only to be turned into a patronised punchline. How must that feel?

Well, we know.

We have Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies).

The Good Wife was a great series

The Good Wife (CBS, all seasons back on All4) brilliantly depicted the mix of anger and sadness, a life lost and a (different, better) life regained.

He was Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), disgraced and resurrected Cook County State’s Attorney, in jail for a chunk of time on corruption charges. With some infidelity thrown into the mix, like powdered glass.

She was the woman holding it all together: home, kids, money, career.

As in Alicia’s case, the wife is often doubly condemned. First as the wronged woman, then as the Good Wife, standing by her man, denied her own pleasures to ensure there is distance between her behaviour and his. Required to be an angel while her man is condemned, but also sneakily admired and indulged.

The point being, The Good Wife (2009-2016) was a great series. So good, it could have been made in the ’90s, the heyday of the kooky legal drama. Each episode was a brilliant mix of the long arc of a marriage under pressure, and a case-an-episode legal drama.

Forbidden fruits and fallen angels

Also there was the spice of the forbidden fruit, with Alicia’s lingering flirtation with Will Gardner (Josh Charles) and we all know how that ended. (Spoiler alert: explosively.)

The Good Wife was well-received by audiences and critics alike and received numerous awards and nominations. Julianna Margulies, who played the role of Alicia Florrick, won several awards for her performance, including a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

This, despite the fact she was third in line for the role after Ashley Judd and Helen Hunt, who both turned it down.


Dizzy Girl – she was stalked by a sinister secret and she had to discover the truth, no matter what the cost

The show was also recognised for its writing, receiving nominations for several writing awards, including the Writers Guild of America Award.

In terms of critical acclaim, The Good Wife was widely praised for its smart writing, engaging plot lines, and strong ensemble cast.

The show was noted for its topical themes, including issues related to politics, law, and gender, and for its ability to address these issues in a sophisticated and nuanced manner while still packing in the soapy elements.

What made The Good Wife so, er, good

  1. Strong and complex female lead: The Good Wife features a female lead, Alicia Florrick, who is a strong and complex character that audiences can relate to. Her journey from a stay-at-home mum to a successful lawyer is inspiring. Her moral dilemma and personal struggles keep the audience engaged. Her bruising personal history ensured that she always, always empathised with the victim. While other lawyers were thinking billable hours, she was thinking people.
  2. Engaging plotlines: The show has a unique blend of legal cases, political scandals, and personal drama that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. The writers skilfully intertwine these elements to create compelling and thought-provoking story arcs. Every week, it seemed, a lost cause was revived thanks to Alicia’s perceptive eye and yielding heart.
  3. Top-notch acting: The cast of The Good Wife includes some of the most talented actors in the industry, delivering outstanding performances that bring the characters to life. Think of Christine Baranski, Archie Panjabi, Cush Jumbo, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Alan Cumming.
  4. Smart writing: The Good Wife is known for its smart writing, with intricate and thought-provoking scripts that address current political and social issues. The show’s writers take a sophisticated approach to storytelling, and the dialogue is sharp, witty, and relevant. Remember, too, that this was from the stable of Scott Free, the brothers Ridley and Tony.
  5. Social relevance: The Good Wife touches on issues such as gender equality, privacy, and political corruption, making it a socially relevant show that resonates with audiences. It offers a fresh perspective on the legal system and the politics of power, making it an educational and entertaining viewing experience.

What came next

And when The Good Wife ended, there was a void. Then some bright spark came up with The Good Fight, taking all the sanctimonious, unbearably goodie-two-shoes bits of The Good Wife without the hint of danger that made The Good Wife so watchable.

It was like eating a dozen doughnuts in a row.

The point of The Good Wife was the irony. Alicia, beneath that angelic, oh-so-empathetic surface, was a little bit naughty, a little bit tempted. In other words, she was a human being, and that’s why we rooted for her, even if her ability to spot a legal anomaly at 20 paces and reverse a ruling became a tiny bit predictable.

But, if you’ve binged and binged again, we’re here to help fill that hole.

5 TV legal dramas like The Good Wife

Here are some alternative TV shows that are similar to The Good Wife in terms of genre, style, and tone:

  1. Suits: A legal drama about a talented young man who joins a prestigious law firm and works alongside a brilliant and unpredictable lawyer. With, of course, a certain Meghan Markle.
  2. Damages: A deranged legal thriller that follows the lives of a ruthless litigator and her protege as they take on high-stakes cases and confront personal and professional struggles. Glenn Close on storming form.
  3. How to Get Away with Murder: A high-octane legal mystery drama that revolves around a law professor and her students who become involved in a twisted murder case. A Shona Rhimes show.
  4. Boston Legal: A comedic-dramatic legal series that follows the exploits of a team of eccentric and passionate lawyers at a prestigious law firm. Eccentric and charming.
  5. Ally McBeal: A comedic-dramatic legal series that explores the personal and professional lives of a quirky young lawyer and her colleagues. Eccentric and irritating.

5 TV dramas about cheated wives

  1. Big Little Lies: A dark comedy-drama about a group of mothers in a wealthy town who are caught up in a murder investigation and must confront the secrets and lies in their personal lives. Stellar cast including Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman.
  2. Doctor Foster: A woman suspects her husband of having an affair. After following several lines of inquiry far more unravels including a streak of violence below the surface. Suranne Jones eats the furniture.
  3. The Affair: A psychological drama that explores the emotional and psychological effects of an extramarital affair on two couples. All sinewy and sexy.
  4. Desperate Housewives: A comedic-dramatic series that follows the lives of a group of suburban women who are dealing with the challenges and secrets of their personal and professional lives. A pocket caper.
  5. The Undoing: Nicole Kidman’s Grace and Hugh Grant’s Jonathan, a married couple in New York, in a whodunnit story where Jonathan is accused of murdering his secret mistress. Addictive.