On ‘The Good Wife’ and Marking Time || A 2016 Repost
“I’ve wasted the last 20 years of my life. I don’t want to waste the next 20.”
Ever since Alicia Florrick voiced these words, they’ve been sitting in my mind. When I first heard it, I was angry. I was already voicing rants about how much it utterly sucks to have Alicia write of 20 years of her life as a waste, especially coming off a breakdown where she voiced her concerns about not liking her kids anymore, and declaring she didn’t see the point of basically all she had done in the six years (and beyond). I’m still pretty bitter about the line, but yesterday I began thinking about the other emotions that were bubbling to the surface as the quote replayed in my mind. It’s funny in a way that some of us feel the show is repeating itself, with a strong indication Peter Florrick is heading back to jail, with Alicia using whatever she can to get the job or partnership she needs and/or desires – when that just might be Alicia’s point. If we’re barrelling towards a divorce to the end this series, and this was something Alicia was asked at the very beginning if she would consider and only now she is considering making a decision as big as this – she feels like she’s wasted time. I’m not happy she decided she declares such a giant chunk of her life as a waste, and it’s definitely not a great flirting technique when you’re about give a hand job to your ‘secret’ boyfriend in a restaurant – but the line means something. It feels like a comment on her lack of decision making but it also says something about Alicia. The show has been accompanied with the message ‘The Education of Alicia Florrick’ since its inception, but the thing with education is it’s an ongoing process and often requires a lot of detours. ‘The Education of Alicia Florrick’ has been an interesting journey for viewers, but when Alicia’s current lesson of not wasting her life – it’s no wonder all her past successes and failures are rendered useless. 6 years, and Alicia Florrick has reconciled with her husband (and then not, because she probably didn’t forgive him to the absolute fullest), she’s started a firm with someone she isn’t even honest with anymore, run an SA campaign which ended up hurting her reputation – and now she’s at a point where she doesn’t give a damn about the learning experience. If it’s about happiness and achievements from Alicia’s perspective, her definition of ‘waste’ doesn’t seem so absurd after all.
Now, I want to talk about what brought this post on. I was in a workshop yesterday which discussed our identity in terms of four characteristics – verify, authenticate, complete and improvise. On this scale of 1-10, I’m a 2 on the improvise scale*. The CEO who designed this ID program was explain what the numbers meant and it was at this characteristic I started thinking about Alicia Florrick. Being a 2 on the improvise scale, it basically meant I could improvise but it’s not a choice of mine. Think of it like this: if I asked you to do me a favour, what would you say?
Would you say ‘yes’ immediately or ask me what the favour is?
I would easily say the latter.
The reason I’m bringing this up is the fact the CEO brought up an anecdote, where he met a woman who marked a 1 on that scale. When her coworkers heard the result, they scoffed. Apparently, she was a massive risk-taker in their minds. She had been skydiving, bungee jumping, and rode a motorcycle. This woman then told everyone the identity test was correct. She spoke about hitting her 40th birthday recently and she looked back and saw a boring life. Her goal was to hit her 60th birthday and not have that feeling haunt her. To her, saying ‘yes’ was always a risk to her, but the far bigger risk was getting to her 60th birthday and feeling the same way she did 20 years earlier. You may wonder why I bring this up. I’m not saying Alicia’s goal is this, exactly. But, Alicia’s done a lot since we first met her. She’s a version of herself which is hard to reconcile to scandal-Alicia if you take away the six years of events which have led her up to that moment. Alicia’s done so much but in 7x13 she had a breakdown which would not have been out of place in the first season. I’m not saying her life is a waste in any sense, but when she has a breakdown of that magnitude and left herself so isolated – even though she’s achieved so much, why wouldn’t she think it’s a waste? Alicia smiling is still such an alien concept to me, but she literally hasn’t stopped smiling ever since she started getting some again. Maybe that’s not the right way to deal with things, but it is how she’s handling things. Alicia has probably smiled more in the last few episodes than seasons at a time. I still don’t think the fallout of the breakdown is good, and that’s not going to change but this is where we’re at so I’m trying to understand what’s happening, without letting myself getting way too fired up. Maybe Alicia saying that line was still wrong (I personally still dislike the connotations), but at a very superficial level, it’s certainly not a strange conclusion to draw.
*Please note, 1 doesn’t mean bad and 10 doesn’t mean good. It was a great workshop which basically taught me to understand my identity so I could perform at my best (and feel like it) at all times.