Michelle [King]: We came up with the idea about a year and half ago. There had been this waterfall of these kinds of scandals, from Bill and Hillary [Clinton], to Dick Morris, to Eliot Spitzer, to name just a few. I think they are all over our culture. And there was always this image of the husband up there apologizing and the wife standing next to him. I think the show began when we asked, "What are they thinking?" And Robert and I started talking about it from there. ... You know, what's interesting about a lot of these political scandals is that the women are lawyers, too. Hillary [Clinton] is a lawyer. Elizabeth Edwards is a lawyer. I think that got us thinking along those lines. That is, we knew she had to go back to work, and we had so many female lawyers to draw on.
Cast and characters
Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick (née Cavanaugh): The titular character of the show, and the wife of Peter, a disgraced State's Attorney; Alicia returns to work as a junior litigator at the law firm Stern, Lockhart & Gardner in part through her old law school friend Will Gardner, whom she has feelings for. Having spent so many years as "the good wife", Alicia finds herself at the bottom of the career ladder, trying to juggle both home and professional life with the ongoing scandal surrounding her husband with whom she has two children, Zach and Grace. Alicia is smart, independent, fiercely protective of her children, and much more than just a good wife. She excels at keeping a cool exterior. She is rarely ruffled and almost always thinks through what she is going to say, choosing her words for maximum impact or sting. Alicia graduated top of her class from Georgetown University Law Center over 15 years ago in the mid-1990s. After graduation she worked at Crozier, Abrams & Abbott for about two years, but left due to her kids and her husband's career. Her maiden name is Cavanaugh and she has a younger brother, Owen, who is gay and the polar opposite of Alicia personality-wise, but they do love each other. Her mother's name is Veronica Loy. In season 3, Alicia is a third-year associate at the firm. She and Peter are separated, and she has a sexual affair with Will but by mid-season she breaks it off. Alicia struggles with her feelings for Peter. She is deeply hurt and has not entirely forgiven him, but still loves him. Toward the end of season three, Peter announces his candidacy for governor of Illinois; Alicia stands at his side as he makes the announcement. In season 4, Alicia gets and takes a promotion as an equity partner of the firm and begins planning to start a new firm with Cary.
Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma: The firm's in-house private investigator. Kalinda previously worked for Peter for three years. He fired her after accusing her of working two jobs. Kalinda is unflappable, inscrutable, fiercely private, and occasionally physically violent. She is exceptionally good at her job, although her tactics are not always strictly legal. She is often the key to the firm winning whatever case they are working on, usually at the 11th hour. She generally does not work well with others. Although Kalinda doesn't let many people close to her, she becomes good friends with Alicia, with the aid of tequila shots, and she feels protective of Alicia. After becoming good friends, Alicia finds out Kalinda had a one-night stand with Peter before she knew Alicia, damaging their friendship but over time, the two start to reconcile. Kalinda has a cynical, misanthropic outlook on human behavior. She is bisexual and has a series of relationships through the show, mostly with women and often because they can help her with a case. Very little is known about her when the series begins, and she is incredibly secretive about her past. The character's signature wardrobe piece has become a pair of knee-high boots; the character initially wore pumps but Panjabi felt that boots "grounded her in the character." In season 4, it is revealed that Kalinda has an abusive husband called Nick Saverese, played by Marc Warren.
Josh Charles as Will Gardner, a named senior partner at Stern, Lockhart & Gardner and an old friend of Alicia Florrick. In season one Will helped Alicia get a job with the firm and is constantly trying to avoid appearing as if he favours her. This is complicated by the fact that the two have feelings for each other. Will and Alicia have an affair beginning at the end of season 2. In season three they break up when Alicias daughter goes missing, and Alicia decides she needs to focus more on her children. He is seen as very much of a ladies man throughout the series and had various love affairs and girlfriends. Will generally had a good working relationship with Diane Lockhart, his co-managing partner at the firm, and the two demonstrate a shrewd ability to guide their business, even through difficult times. Will plays in a regular pick-up basketball game with other attorneys and judges, and has friendships with the players that are eventually scrutinized. During season 3 Will is suspended from practicing law for six months as punishment stemming from an old bribery scandal but returns to the firm in season 4. In season 5 after much planning, Alicia and Cary leave Stern, Lockhart & Gardner to start their own firm, Will takes this betrayal personally. In episode 15 of the fifth season, he was shot and killed in the courtroom by his client Jeffrey Grant (played by Hunter Parrish).
Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart: A named senior partner at the firm, she supports other female lawyers. She is liberal and is a champion of women's causes, thus having strong opinions on many issues, including an extreme dislike of guns and violence, although in one plot line she had a romantic relationship with a conservative ballistics expert. She speaks fluent French and although she is not married, seems to have an active social life. Among her paramours is Kurt McVeigh, a firearms expert and conservative Republican, whom Diane is drawn to despite their political opposites and her dislike of guns, and they eventually marry. Although she is initially skeptical of Alicia Florrick's abilities as a lawyer when she joins the firm, Diane becomes a sort of mentor to her. But she is a mentor at a distance, and her support often comes by way of cryptic advice that only points Alicia in the right direction. She does not hesitate to tell anyone when she thinks they are wrong. Diane is often torn between supporting Alicia and Cary Agos when the two are in competition.
Matt Czuchry as Cary Agos: A young Harvard-educated lawyer who, in the first season, begins as a first year associate at Lockhart Gardner with Alicia Florrick. In the first episode, it is established that there is only one permanent position, putting Cary into competition with Alicia. At the end of first season, the firm selects Alicia, and Cary goes to work for the state attorney's office. In season 3, Cary is appointed Cook County Deputy State's Attorney, though he subsequently demotes himself for having an in-office affair. Dissatisfied with the demotion, he accepts an offer to return to Lockhart Gardner. He is often placed in rivalry with Alicia and sometimes resents her for this and her political connections thanks to her husband, Peter Florrick, the disgraced State's Attorney. His own career trajectory takes many twists and turns, often because of bad luck, but Cary maintains his integrity and loyalty to individual relationships he has formed. He seems to have a crush on Kalinda Sharma, the firm's investigator. It is later revealed that Cary has a very difficult and distant relationship with his father, Jeffrey Agos, a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., who does not ever seem to think Cary is good enough. As season 4 ends, after not getting the partnership at Lockhart Gardner that he sought, he forms a new firm bringing with him the other fourth year lawyers at the firm, and manages to convince newly minted Lockhart Gardner partner Alicia to come with them.
Graham Phillips as Zachary "Zach" Florrick: The teenage son of Alicia and Peter Florrick, the eldest of the Florrick’s children, the older brother of Grace Florrick, grandson of Jackie Florrick and Veronica Loy (Alicia’s mom), and nephew of Owen Cavanaugh. Zach has an interest in politics, at one point joining Peter's campaign as an intern. Zach is smart, stubborn and also has a strong sense of right and wrong, which has led to not be afraid of his questioning authority figures at times. Zach's computer skills and technical know-how also expose lies that are being spread about his dad. Beyond his computer skills, he shows an aptitude for using the law like his mother. He is protective of his mom because of what his father has put her through. Zach is coping with his parents' separation and starting at a new school and also starting to date. Throughout the series, Zach dates the scheming Becca and later a girl named Neesa who happens to be African-American and whose race and religion are occasionally brought into his father's campaign, which causes some issues. This becomes complicated when his father is released from prison and contemplates a run for office, making his children's life political fodder, despite their mother's best efforts.
Makenzie Vega as Grace Florrick: The teenage daughter of Alicia and Peter Florrick, the youngest of the Florrick’s children, the younger sister of Zach Florrick, granddaughter of Jackie Florrick and also Veronica Loy (Alicia's mom), and niece of Owen Cavanaugh. Although pretty and compassionate, she is friendless, which is most likely due to her outwardness. She begins to become deeply religious, thanks to a friend at school, much to Alicia's bemusement, and question her faith and read the Bible, which Alicia doesn't understand, but tries to support. She is naïve and young for her age. She has a tutor, Jennifer, who likes to bust out dancing in public. She has many questions about her father's infidelity, which she does not understand. She previously idolized her father and despite his sins, she wants her parents to get back together. Grace was not happy about the move from their house in Highland Park to their apartment and initially struggles to make friends in school.
Alan Cumming as Eli Gold: Peter Florrick's campaign strategist and crisis manager, Eli consults for Peter when he considers a return to office. His style of management is to be blunt, often rude. Eli is politically astute and doesn't waste time with niceties. Eli is separated from his wife, Vanessa Gold (played by Parker Posey), who has political aspirations of her own, and has a daughter, Marissa (played by Sarah Steele), who is similarly outspoken like her mother and shares a healthy relationship with her father. Eli believes that securing the support of Peter's wife Alicia is crucial to any ambitions he may harbor, and he quickly realizes that Alicia is no pushover and his usual wife-coddling techniques will not work. He mostly seems to respect the boundaries Alicia sets up, particularly where they concern her children Zach and Grace. As a top political consultant who is also an expert in damage control, Eli has talks with Diane Lockhart and Will Gardner about joining their firm in some way. Eli seems genuinely invested in Peter Florrick and respects both him and Alicia, although she is often a frustrating enigma to him. He has a brief shot at romance with Natalie Flores (played by America Ferrera), a student who worked in the past as a nanny for Wendy Scott-Carr. Eli leaks details to the press of Natalie's status as an illegal immigrant but as he comes to know her he is seen to regret this and later helps her get a job as an intern at Lockhart & Gardner. Cumming's portrayal of Gold has been compared to Rahm Emanuel. He was promoted to the main cast in season two. Eli is Jewish, but not very religious. He does, however, request the Sabbath off. In season 5 Peter asks him to be his chief of staff, which he accepts.
Zach Grenier as David Lee: Head of Family Law, a divorce lawyer, and an equity partner at Lockhart/Gardner. The Family Law division is responsible for a sizeable chunk of the firm's income, so David has more sway than Diane or Will would like. David is misanthropic and is prone to scowling, sarcasm and being directly rude to people when he thinks things are not going his way. More than anything, he is unambiguously concerned with making money. He particularly hates Julius Cane, the firm's head of litigation and an equity partner. Nevertheless, at rare moments, Alicia Florrick turns to him for help and he comes through. Although no easy judge of character, he has a liking for Alicia's mother, and sporadically asks Alicia about her. After recurring in the first four seasons, he was promoted to a series regular for the fifth season.
Matthew Goode as Finn Polmar: Introduced in the fifteenth episode of the fifth season; Finn is responsible for the prosecution case against Jeffrey Grant (played by Hunter Parrish). During a shooting in the courtroom, Finn is wounded along with Will Gardner, although Finn survives his injuries. Finn is meant to be a replacement for Gardner.
Chris Noth as Peter Florrick: Alicia's husband. The series begins with Peter resigning as State's Attorney of Cook County and going to prison amid a corruption and prostitution scandal. He spends most of the first season appealing his conviction and is cleared of the charges by the end of the season. He then successfully campaigns for election as State's Attorney again, and later successfully runs for governor of Illinois.
Mary Beth Peil as Jackie Florrick: Peter's meddling mother. She is reluctant to believe in her son's corrupt behavior and is hopeful Alicia and Peter will reunite. Her meddling irritates Alicia who has little affection for her mother-in-law.
Titus Welliver as Glenn Childs: Peter's arch rival who succeeded Peter as State's Attorney after his resignation. He spends the first season trying to keep Peter in prison, and later runs against Peter for State's Attorney. He is forced to drop out of the race amid controversy, and later works as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.
Scott Porter as Blake Calamar: A private investigator for the firm who competes with Kalinda. He tries to frame Kalinda for putting a doctor in a coma but fails. He finds out that her former name was Leela Tahiri and Peter helped her change it. In return, she slept with Peter. After this revelation, he disappears after Bond is removed as name partner.
Anika Noni Rose as Wendy Scott-Carr: Ran unsuccessfully against Peter for state's attorney. Scott-Carr reappears in season 3 as a special prosecutor hired by Florrick.
Michael Ealy as Derrick Bond: A new partner in season 2. He plays Will and Diane against each other, forcing Diane to plan a new firm. He fails when Will and Diane find out his scheme and turn on him. In "Great Firewall", he is removed as a named partner.
Joe Morton as Daniel Golden: A member of Peter's legal team who now works in the State Department.
Monica Raymund as Dana Lodge: An assistant state's attorney in Florrick's office.
Anna Camp as Caitlin d'Arcy: A junior associate at the firm. She is the niece of David Lee and Alicia acts as her mentor. She leaves Lockhart & Gardner in the third season to become a stay-at-home mother.
Michael J. Fox as Louis Canning: Canning is a rival attorney who has been opposing counsel to Alicia in various cases. Canning is afflicted with tardive dyskinesia, which he often uses to curry sympathy with judges, juries, and witnesses. He offers Alicia a job in "Wrongful Termination", which she rejects. After Will's death he becomes a named partner at Lockhart Gardner, and plots with David Lee to remove Diane.
Martha Plimpton as Patti Nyholm: A rival attorney who opposes the Lockhart & Gardner crew in several cases. She is a scheming lawyer who mainly represents big companies. She has two kids whom she often uses to win time or the affections of judges, jurors, and witnesses.
Carrie Preston as Elsbeth Tascioni: A quirky lawyer introduced in the episode "Mock" as part of Peter's team. She returns in the third season to help Alicia when she gets in trouble with the Treasury Department. Later in that season, Will hires her to help him when Wendy Scott-Carr investigates him for judicial bribery.
Maura Tierney as Maddie Hayward: A feminist who initially supported Peter's campaign for governor, but upon hearing about Peter possibly sleeping with a campaign worker, pulled out and ran for the Democratic nomination herself, eventually losing to Peter.
Dallas Roberts as Owen Cavanaugh: Alicia's mischievous, gay younger brother. He is a math professor and moves from Oregon to Chicago in Season 2.
Stockard Channing as Veronica Loy: Alicia's heavy drinking, estranged mother. Her several husbands and lovers are an annoyance to Alicia and Owen. It is implied that David Lee, who helped her challenge her late husband's pre-nup, likes her.
Nathan Lane as Clarke Hayden: A court-appointed trustee in charge of getting the firm out of bankruptcy in the fourth season.
Amanda Peet as Captain Laura Hellinger: A former Army captain and military lawyer. While in Afghanistan, a contractor attempted to rape her. She is now an assistant state's attorney in Florrick's office.
Marc Warren as Nick Saverese, Kalinda's abusive ex-husband, whom she had been avoiding by changing her name. He appears in season 4, after being revealed as connected in some way to the unseen person knocking on Kalinda's door in the cliff-hanger at the end of Season 3.
Gary Cole as Kurt McVeigh: A ballistic expert that helps the firm on several cases, and an on-and-off love interest for Diane. Diane and he get married in Season 5, in spite of their political differences.
Matthew Perry as Mike Kresteva: An attorney who leads a blue ribbon panel that Alicia is appointed to in Season 3; and later becomes Peter's Republican rival in the general election for Illinois governor during Season 4.
Jess Weixler as Robyn Burdine: The firm's second in-house private investigator, hired during season 4.
Mamie Gummer as Nancy Crozier: Crozier is a young rival attorney who has been opposing counsel to Alicia in various cases. She pretends to be a bumbling, innocent country girl when she is, in fact, a skilled attorney.
The series was created by Robert and Michelle King, who serve as executive producers and show runners. The pair had produced the short-lived legal drama In Justice that aired as a mid-season replacement in early 2006. The creators had previously worked extensively in feature films. Scott Free productions helped to finance The Good Wife and Ridley Scott, Tony Scott (until his death) and David W. Zucker are credited as executive producers.
Executive producer Dee Johnson added television writing experience to the team.Charles McDougall directed the pilot episode and was the pilot's other executive producer. McDougall had previously enjoyed success as the director of the pilot for Desperate Housewives. All seven executive producers returned when a full series was ordered and they were joined by executive producer Brooke Kennedy. McDougall left the crew after directing and executive producing the second episode. The series is produced by Bernadette Caulfield who had previously worked on the HBO polygamy drama Big Love; co-producer Ron Binkowski added post production experience to the pilot and returned for the first season.
Several new producers were added to the crew once CBS ordered a full season. Angela Amato Velez joined the crew as a consulting producer and writer bringing legal experience from her careers as a police officer and legal aid attorney and writing experience from the police dramas Third Watch and Southland. Todd Ellis Kessler, who had recently completed production on The Unit, and had previously worked on legal drama The Practice, joined the staff as a co-executive producer and writer.Ted Humphrey served as a supervising producer and writer and then as co-executive producer and writer. Corinne Brinkerhoff completed the production team as a writer and co-producer. Brinkerhoff had previously worked as a writer and story editor on Boston Legal. David W. Zucker is an executive producer on the show, having been nominated for four Primetime Emmys and one PGA Award. His credits included Judging Amy, The Pillars of the Earth, and Law Dogs.
As a junior associate at a prestigious Chicago law firm, Alicia Florrick joins her longtime friend, former law school classmate and firm partner Will Gardner, who is interested in rekindling their former relationship. The firm's top litigator and other partner, Diane Lockhart, likes Alicia's work and her connections so she and Will award her with a full-time associate position following a trial period. Alicia beat out Cary Agos, a clever young attorney who takes a job in the state's attorney's office, now bitter and vengeful. Alicia finds an ally and a friend in Kalinda, the firm's tough and mysterious in-house investigator. Gaining confidence every day, Alicia transforms herself from embarrassed politician's scorned wife to resilient career woman, especially for the sake of providing a stable home for her children, 14-year-old Zach and 13-year-old Grace. Now that Peter is back home and planning to run for office again with help from Eli Gold, his cunning image consultant, Alicia continues to redefine herself and her role in her family's life.
Season 2 begins where season 1 left off with Will and Alicia discussing how to have an affair without the media finding out. Before the plan is conceived, however, Eli Gold takes possession of Alicia's phone and deletes a pivotal voicemail. Alicia, now under the impression that Will doesn't have a plan, suppresses her feelings for Will, and the workplace environment becomes awkward when they are in vicinity of each other. With Alicia as a 2nd year associate after being chosen over Cary Agos, who has now been hired as a states attorney leading to Lockhart & Gardner, they often find themselves battling each other in court. Peter, now released from prison and cleared of charges, begins his campaign to run as States Attorney against current States Attorney Glenn Childs. A new main partner, Derrick Bond, joins the firm Lockhart & Gardner—now known as Lockhart/Gardner & Bond. However, a feud between Diane and Will occurs when Will begins siding with Derrick Bond's suggestions. Diane requests Kalinda to check into Will's and Derrick's past. She discovers that they had a connection in Will's old law firm in Baltimore. At the same time, a new investigator joins the law firm—Blake Calamar. Brought in by Derrick Bond, he is determined to uncover Kalinda's past. When Will discovers that Bond has also been deceiving him, Will and Diane work together to remove Bond as a main partner, but wait until Bond brings in a "super PAC" (political action committee) client worth $100 million a year. Blake eventually uncovers that Kalinda had changed her name from "Leela" and that Leela slept with Peter Florrick when she used to work for him in the state's attorney's office. Alicia finds out about the affair on the night that Peter wins the election for state's attorney. Alicia separated from Peter, gains a stronger attraction to Will, and begins to have sexual relations with him.
Season 3 takes place the following morning after season 2 with Alicia now as a third year litigator on track to become partner while having an affair with her boss Will Gardner. She is given an office on the 29th floor, the only third year litigator with an office on the floor. Peter Florrick's crisis manager Eli Gold joins the firm to prepare for Peter's campaign for Governorship of Illinois, while Alicia acts as a bridge between Lockhart & Gardner and his campaign. Peter, now as States Attorney, battles with Lockhart & Gardner from case to case while the firm begins to get a short-term liquidity problem. Diane and Will try to acquire a bankruptcy department from a competing law firm that's closing down due to the double dip recession, and they notice that a bankruptcy department is the only area that will survive a double dip recession. When Diane tries lobbying to become the States Attorney's Civil Defender, she begins to suspect an affair between Will and Alicia. The affair, however, ends by mid-season after Alicia realizes she's been putting her needs before those of her children.
Season 4 focuses on Lockhart & Gardner's efforts to come out from bankruptcy after rival lawyers Louis Canning and Patti Nyholm team up to take them down. A trustee, Clarke Hayden, is appointed to watch over the firm, but Will and Diane are not happy once he starts getting in their way. Trying to gain money, the firm offers partnership to some associates, because they need their initial payment. When the debt is cleared, only Alicia is made partner and the other offers are delayed. Feeling angry, Cary teams up with the other four-years to start a new firm. Meanwhile, Peter Florrick runs for Governor. Eli is once again leading his campaign, although things get complicated when he finds out he is being investigated. Alicia befriends Maddi Haylord, who sponsors her husband's campaign, but ultimately it turns out she is running up against him and Mike Kresteva. In a B plot Kalinda's past comes to haunt her in the form of her husband Nick. Once he starts threatening people in her life, she needs to get rid of him. The firm also hires a new investigator to help her at work - Robyn Burdine. On top of all, Alicia is back with Peter, but having a hard time suppressing her feelings for Will.
Season 5 takes place after Alicia joins Cary in opening a new firm. They take some of Lockhart/Gardner's (now known as LG) clients, but they need to survive under the fierce backlash of their ex-employers.
After winning the elections, Peter is now governor. Eli is his chief of staff and is having some problems with Marylin Garbanza, Director of the Governor's Ethics Commission. Meanwhile, the investigation of a ballot box, full of fake votes for Peter, may ruin his career. At the end of episode 15, Will Gardner is fatally shot in a courtroom by his client. This had a tremendous effect on many of the characters, particularly Alicia, Diane and Kalinda, all of whom reconsidered the course of their respective careers following his death. Finn Polmar was also introduced as a new ASA who befriends Alicia. Alicia decides to split up with Peter but will stay married in the public eye, as it benefits both of their careers. Louis Canning joins Lockhart Gardner as a partner and keeps Will's name on the letterhead, making the firm "Lockhart Gardner and Canning"; he and David Lee plot to kick Diane out of the firm. At the end of Season 5, Diane asks if she could join Florrick Agos with her $38 million in clients. Zach goes away to college and Eli asks Alicia if she would run for State's Attorney.
On October 7, 2009, CBS gave the series a full-season pickup, extending the first season from 13 to 22 episodes, later extended to 23 episodes. On January 14, 2010, CBS renewed the drama for a second season, which premiered on September 28, 2010. On May 18, 2011, CBS renewed The Good Wife for a third season, airing Sundays at 9:00 pm On March 14, 2012, CBS renewed the show for a fourth season. On March 27, 2013, CBS renewed The Good Wife for a fifth season. On March 13, 2014, CBS renewed the show for a sixth season.
Technology and the Internet
The Good Wife has been well received among technology enthusiasts, being described by Clive Thompson of Wired as "the most tech-savvy show on TV". The show has explored the relationship between technology and the law, covering topics including Bitcoin, Anonymous, viral marketing in political campaigns, voice control software, virtual conferencing robots, and NSA surveillance. For example, one of the firm's recurring clients is a fictional internet search company known as Chumhum, which among other issues has faced privacy lawsuits for selling users' personal data to the Chinese and Syrian government. The Good Wife was the first TV show to feature Bitcoin, the virtual internet currency, with an episode featuring Bitcoin first broadcast in January 2012. This led to it achieving a high level of fame amongst the Bitcoin community.
In the season 5 premiere, a Double Robotics robot was featured on the show which allowed a litigator to teleconference from home by controlling a tablet on wheels. However, rather than glorifying the robot's features, The Good Wife turned it into a punchline with practical jokes and problems the robot could have such as it not being able to maneuver around an office and bumping into walls, doors and people and low Wi-Fi connectivity leading to buffering and loss of visual and voice communication of the person working at home.
In Episode 9, "Whack-a-Mole" The Good Wife featured a version of Reddit called "Scabbit" and how it affects the law and the downsides of having an "average joe" being an investigator trying to find a domestic terrorist. It also deals with injunctions of taking down a defamatory web page on "Scabbit" but having another similar web page pop up soon after.
In Episode 11, "Goliath and David" the story is based around a TV Show 'Drama Camp' who stole an Indie band's cover of a rap song and deals with the legality of copyright infringement. It was inspired by Jonathan Coulton who created a cover of 'Baby Got Back' and Glee, the TV series, which used an identical cover on the show. The character 'Robyn Burdine' who's a private investigator for Florrick/Agos discovers that the show Drama Camp had to release the song on iTunes in Sweden before releasing it in the USA and that the engineers directly ripped the Indie band's track constituting actual theft.
The Good Wife has received universal critical acclaim. The Atlantic said that the show "is delivering the best drama on network television".TIME referred to it as "the best thing on TV outside cable".Esquire reviewed The Good Wife as "The Best Show on Television Right Now". TV critic Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker compared Alicia Florrick, the show's protagonist, to Walter White of Breaking Bad.The New York Times says that The Good Wife "stands out among newer fall shows" and that it is "miles ahead of anything else that's on at the moment".
The first season of the show received generally favorable reviews. It scored a Metacritic rating of 76 out of 100 based on the views of 26 critics. Season 2 scored an 89. Season 3  Season 4  In reviewing the first early episodes many critics praised the acting talents of the cast. The Chicago Tribune commended the show saying "one of the best parts of the show is Alicia's complicated relationship with her husband, who humiliated his family with a sex scandal but also appears to be a pawn in a larger game being played by high-level politician". The second season of the show was generally better received than the first. It currently sits at 89 out of 100 on Metacritic indicating "universal acclaim". The 4th season also received critical acclaim, with an 86 out 100 on Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim".
The New York Daily News report, in a review of the lead character's performance said, "Margulies puts a powerful combination of cold fury, bewilderment and tenacity into Alicia Florrick, the wife of a disgraced Chicago politician in a new series that readily admits it ripped itself from the headlines" while The Baltimore Sun predicted that "With all four [actors] bringing their 'A' games to the pilot, it looks as if CBS could have another winning 10 o'clock drama."
There were a few reservations as to the long-term success and plot of the show, with the San Francisco Chronicle concluding that "There's nothing inherently wrong with The Good Wife other than it's a legal series with too many close-up shots of knowing glances and 'attagirl Alicia' moments of empowerment that you saw coming 20 minutes prior".
Time Magazine's James Poniewozik named it one of the Top 10 TV Series of 2010 and 2011, saying, "The ability to keep growing: that's what makes a good Wife great".The Salt Lake Tribune in its list of the Top 10 series of 2011 ranked The Good Wife No. 3, explaining "The mix of fascinating legal drama and even more fascinating personal drama is superb."
AOL named Alicia the 19th Most Memorable Female TV Character.
Newsday (Verne Gay): "Like Mad Men, Wife has an obsessive attention to detail; it's a hurricane of detail, in the visual touches, legal patter and the actors' unspoken flourishes. Nothing seems extraneous or out of place. Also like Men, this show cares as much about silence as words, or that which isn't said (also a form of eloquence)."
Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club: "The series also feels impeccably researched and lived-in, just as The Wire did. The Good Wife may not seem like the logical successor to The Wire on the surface, but it’s revealed itself to be a series nearly as complex, humane, and deep as that earlier show, and all in reduced network running-times with heightened restrictions on content." 
The Guardian (Bim Adewunmi): "But as the 100th episode – part of a near-flawless season five – shows, The Good Wife is uncommonly good. If you're looking for a quality drama box set to escape the family this Christmas, look no further. It has no smoking, brooding male anti-hero, and it's not a period piece, but The Good Wife is exciting and smart and underrated. "
As a broadcast network television show which is usually stigmatised compared to its cable competitors, it has received what is considered unusual critical acclaim: USA Today said that The Good Wife is "broadcast's best drama", while The Atlantic said that the show "is delivering the best drama on network television".Time referred to it as "the best thing on TV outside cable". TV critic Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker compared Alicia Florrick, the show's protagonist, to Walter White of Breaking Bad.
Esquire called The Good Wife "The Best Show on Television Right Now (Both Network and Cable)," claiming that the season 5 episodes "Hitting The Fan" and "The Next Day" were possibly the best television episodes produced that year, noting, "It's a rare show that starts to come into its own in the middle of its fifth season, but somehow CBS’s The Good Wife has managed to do it." Chancellor Agard of The Daily Beast said, "'Hitting the Fan' is so momentous because of the degree to which it contrasts with last week’s equally excellent episode, 'Outside the Bubble.'" 
Don Kaplan of the New York Daily News: "Now the drama’s in its fifth season, a time when most shows either go on autopilot or start offering “very special” shark-jumping episodes. But the producers and cast of “Wife” somehow managed to kick over the chessboard where the show has been played for years, scattering the pieces to the wind and reinventing “The Good Wife” as one of the most gripping dramas on television. Period." 
Rentrak Viewer Engagement Ratings: The Stickiness Index is an engagement metric based on the average percentage of the program watched by all viewers divided by the average percentage viewed for all series of that duration during Monday-Saturday primetime (8pm-11pm) and Sunday primetime (7pm-11pm).
Under the deal, the first four seasons of The Good Wife are available on Amazon Prime. Hulu Plus rolled out previous seasons of the show in September 2013, while Hallmark Channel, which reportedly paid $350,000 and $400,000 per episode, began airing The Good Wife in January 2014. However not long after premiering on the Hallmark Channel the show was pulled from the schedule. A weekend broadcast syndication run is scheduled to begin in September 2014, with the series sold in 85% of the country.
Season 1 premiered on Monday nights from February 8, 2010, but moved to Sunday nights at 8:30 pm from April 11, 2010. Season 2 premiered on Wednesday nights from October 20, 2010, but was moved to Thursday nights at 8:30 pm from January 20, 2011.
Global: Premiered on September 22, 2009, in English, airing Tuesday nights at 10:00 pm ET/PT (including simultaneous substitution of CBS broadcast). Season 2 also aired simultaneously with CBS. Since Season 3, new episodes air same date (Sundays) as CBS but one hour later, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. V: Premiered on September 1, 2010, as Une femme exemplaire ("An Exemplary Woman", in French) in Quebec, airing Wednesday nights at 8:00 pm
ProSieben: Season 1 premiered on March 31, 2010 in German dubbed, airing Wednesday nights at 10:15pm CET. kabel eins: Season 2 premiered on March 11, 2011 in German dubbed, airing Friday nights at 09:15pm CET (episode 2.01–2.06) and 11:00pm CET (episode 2.07–2.23). FOX: Pay-TV reruns of the first two seasons started on November 22, 2011. Season 3 premiered on December 11, 2012 in German dubbed, airing Tuesday nights at 9:45pm CET sixx: Aired reruns of the first two seasons, starting on June 22, 2012.
Season 1 premiered on Hallmark Channel (now Universal Channel) on January 24, 2010 as A férjem védelmében ("In my husband's protection"). Later Season 1 was also premiered on the countrywide-available TV2. Season 2 was also aired on Universal Channel, it was premiered on February 7, 2011.
Season 1 premiered Monday March 15, 2010 at 9.30 pm and completed its run on August 16, 2010. Season 2 premiered on Thursday July 7, 2011 at 9.00 pm and completed its run on October 13, 2011. Season 3 premiered on Thursday April 19, 2012 at 9.30 pm and completed its run on September 13, 2012. Season 4 the series moved to sister channel, RTÉ One, and premiered Thursday May 23, 2013 at 10.15pm  and completed its run on October 17, 2013. Season 5 premiered Thursday May 29 at 11.20pm on RTÉ One.
Season 1 began airing on October 9, 2010, every Saturdays at 10 pm, while in (Italian) Switzerland, it aired on March 3, 2010. Season 2 Began its airing on January 26, 2011 and in Italy on September 10, 2011. Season 3 started on February 8, 2012 in Switzerland and on March 6, 2012 in Italy. Season 4 began on January 30, 2013 on RSI La 1 and from February 26, 2013 on Rai 2 every Saturdays at 11 pm.
The series premiered on Hallmark Channel (now Universal Channel) on January 24, 2010 as did in Hungary, the countries have the same schedule. Season 2 premiered on February 7, 2011, and season 3 on March 4, 2012.The Good Wife also airs on Pay TV channel POP Brio. First season premiered on September 7, 2010, the second on January 19, 2012. and season 3 premiered on August 1, 2012. The 3rd season was shown Monday to Friday at 9.30 pm and completed its run on August 30, 2012.
Premiered on Monday, January 25, 2010 and, starting the following week, first run episodes shown on More4 on Thursdays at 9:00 pm (with Channel 4's screening the following Wednesday). From season 2 onwards the show only airs on More4 due to a drop in ratings on Channel 4 during the first series. Series 2 to 5 aired Thursdays at 9.00pm.