Yesterday I wrote, hopefully, that women returning to the workplace might create a network of helpful mentors. But in last night's premiere of The Good Wife, Christine Baranski played pretty much the opposite.
The conceit of the show is that Julianna Margulies's character, Alicia, has been home with the kids for a long time, and when she goes back to work after her state's attorney husband is jailed in a sex scandal, she has to start from the bottom. That is, if "the bottom" were a junior associate position at a major law firm, arguing a murder case. Christine Baranski is always fun to watch, especially when paired with her very own villain-pet, as here. But in Diane, she's basically playing a working-world stereotype: the mean, successful woman who wants women under her to fail. Later in the episode, Will (seen in the clip appealingly tossing his baseball) tells her, "I've seen you mentor these women until they start competing with you," and so have we — in central casting.
The show does have some less predictable aspects. The law firm's investigator Kalinda (played by awesome Archie Punjabi) is that rare TV woman of color who is portrayed as a hottie, rather than a funny friend or background diversity. And while her cleavage-flashing gets a little old, she and Alicia do appear to be forging a mentoring relationship, though initially it's Alicia who's getting mentored. Less interesting is the suggestion that Alicia is good at her job because she understands what it's like to be a wronged woman. Her bonding with a potential female witness over Diet Coke is pretty tiresome, and in general Margulies is a lot more fun when she's getting angry than when she's being warm. Which is why it might be okay to watch her spar with Baranski, stereotypes be damned — that is, until they hug it out in the inevitable reconciliation episode.
The Good Wife [CBS]