In season 1 of The Good Wife, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) was a Highland Park socialite and wife of the district attorney, and her life was shattered by her husband Peter's very public affair. She is thrown head-first from a life of privilege into single-handedly supporting her family. Her law degree, which has been gathering dust for years, is now Alicia's only way of keeping a roof over her kids' heads. Season 1 was about survival, nothing more and nothing less. Luckily, Alicia is smart and finds an ally in Kalinda (Archie Panjabi), her firm's private investigator who teaches her the value of self-preservation. Season 2 is about Alicia moving past mere survival and testing the waters with both Peter (Chris Noth) and her long-time friend and boss Will (Josh Charles). Does she want her family and life with Peter back, or does she want to find a place in her life for Will?
While season 2 with Peter's political campaign was brilliant, season 3 manages to exceed my already high expectations by introducing a new dilemma for Alicia. Her career at Lockhart Gardner is thriving, but she is hitting a plateau. Alicia insists on keeping her kids as her top priority, and she can only devote so much time and energy to her work. In season 3, Alicia's boss Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) starts hinting that Alicia needs to either give more to the firm and get on the partner track or expect her career at Lockhart Gardner to stall out. Meanwhile, Alicia has other problems to deal with. Her mother-in-law Jackie (Mary Beth Peil) is refusing to accept her separation from Peter, and to make matters more complicated, Alicia has started an affair of her own with Will.
At the beginning of season 3, Alicia thinks that she can have it all. Her relationship with Will is sexy and uncomplicated. Work is still tough, but she feels like she has secured her place at Lockhart Gardner. Even her kids have accepted her separation from Peter. Everything is good, and for once in her life, Alicia thinks she can have it all. Work, family, new love, she can have everything she's ever wanted.
Unfortunately, she realizes very quickly that this is a honeymoon after a tough couple of years. It might be wonderful, but it is temporary. Once she comes back to reality, Alicia discovers that she has difficult choices to make, and even if Peter is back in the picture, her career and family life might be too much for her to handle. Julianna Margulies does a great job revealing more layers to Alicia's character in season 3. She gets to show Alicia as a sexual being, something that has been intentionally downplayed by Alicia in seasons 1 and 2. Besides that, Alicia is becoming more ruthless in the courtroom. She has always been a great attorney, but Lockhart Gardner is turning her into a cutthroat lawyer, whether she realizes it or not. This especially comes through in a subplot involving Alicia mentoring a new associate. She constantly assumes the worst, and she becomes so paranoid that she believes this young blonde associate is after her. Most successful Chicago lawyers might be cynical jackasses, but this is a new look for Alicia.
What I love about The Good Wife besides the Chicago politics and the courtroom drama is how much fun it is. Considering that the cases this year include drone missile attacks and Executive Order 13224, that is quite a feat. The writing is so sharp and funny, and the show has an amazing leading and supporting cast (not to mention a rotating set of guest stars) that make the best lines sizzle. Once again, Alan Cumming as Eli Gold, who spends the season as damage control for Lockhart Gardner’s high-profile clients, is one of the most entertaining characters on TV. He has always been a highlight of the show, and this season, he gets to play off of guest stars Parker Posey and Amy Sedaris. Charlie Sheen might have coined the term, “Winning, duh!” but Alan Cumming is the embodiment of it. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but they have nothing on a look of disdain and a raised eyebrow from Eli Gold.
Season 3 might have been a tough one for Alicia with life-changing decisions ahead in season 4, but it was a wonderful ride for anyone who loves good TV drama with massive payoff for its loyal viewers. For those who haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend picking up seasons 1 and 2 before jumping into season 3. Otherwise, you won’t be able to fully appreciate Will and Diane’s dance of triumph and why it was one of the most satisfying moments of TV last year. Plus, with season 4 starting later this month, there is no better time to catch up on The Good Wife.
DVD Bonus Features
Special features include behind-the-scenes featurettes, commentary tracks for select episodes, the hilarious Lockhart Gardner sexual harassment video, and deleted scenes.
"The Good Wife: The Third Season" is on sale September 4, 2012 and is not rated. Drama, Romance. Directed by Rosemary Rodriguez. Written by Michelle King, Robert King. Starring Archie Panjabi, Chris Noth, Christine Baranski, Josh Charles, Julianna Margulies, Mary Beth Peil.