The Good Wife as Successor to The Wire

Normally, whenever someone writes an article about the supposed successor to a famously important show, it feels akin to technology writers using the clever ploy of “X piece of technology is a Y piece of technology killer.” It’s trite and lazy.

However, Todd VanDerWerff lays out an argument that CBS’s The Good Wife is the thematic successor to HBO’s beloved The Wire.

Had I not got wholly sucked into the CBS show in its second season by accident, I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on when I say that it is indeed a show that, like David Simon’s The Wire, tells “the story of the life and death of an American city, examines the ways systems corrupt and destroy people, and tosses dozens of compelling characters from all walks of life into the storytelling mixture.”

Look, The Good Wife isn’t by any stretch as great of a show, nor as culturally significant as The Wire, but it is deliciously good and compelling television. It’s almost soapy in its machinations and succeeds despite its CBS-ness.

The Good Wife may be the only show on the air to truly understand the way the Internet has spread tendrils into every facet of American life, the way blogs influence political races, the way that YouTube has become as important force in the national dialogue as network TV or newspapers,” VanDerWerff writes.  “It may be the only show that’s featured a plotline heavily inspired by those Taiwanese animations of important news events, and the show didn’t just get the reference right; it actually created a stupid animation of its own to dramatize what the characters were up to.”

What’s always amazing to me about most television shows that take place in the here and the now is that none of them actually understand the way people use technology in their lives. They don’t understand about checking Facebook at inopportune times or zoning out with Angry Birds, or “accidentally” tweeting a penis pic or any of the ways that technology has drastically affected news, politics and the everyday.

The Good Wife actually does and because of that it makes it a show that is worthy to be discussed in the same breath as The Wire but not necessarily in a way that may be called its heir apparent.

Yet. Talk to me after The Good Wife has wrapped up season five. Not for nothing, but the character of “Kalinda Sharma” as played by actress Archie Panjabi may be one of the best characters on television at the moment.

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