Television
5:10 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Fans Of 'The Good Wife' Rocked By [Spoiler Alert]

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 6:46 pm

The CBS legal drama The Good Wife centers on smart, attractive Chicago lawyer Alicia Florrick. She's "the good wife" because she stood by her politician husband when he cheated on her.

But the show's most compelling story line has always been between Alicia and another lawyer, Will Gardner. And if you don't want to know what happened in that storyline last night, stop reading NOW.

No, Really: Major Spoiler Ahead

Will Gardner, played by actor Josh Charles, was killed in a courtroom shooting — and it's safe to say that longtime fans watching the show were stunned. Susan Anastasi, a fan in Maryland, says she got pretty riled up.

"I was so mad," she exclaims. "I thought, 'How could they do it?' Because the sexual tension between Alicia and Will has always been the heart of the show — and we've been rooting for them to get together since the show began, but she kept going back to her cheating husband."

Even TV critics, who can usually sniff out these explosive episodes ahead of time, were caught off guard.

"It sort of took me a while to wrestle with my feelings beyond just shock," admits Time magazine's James Poniewozik.

As soon as the episode aired last night, CBS began explaining the decision to fans.

"However much I've enjoyed the experience," actor Josh Charles says in an online video, "I was ready for the next chapter of my life both creatively and personally."

Knowing the outrage would be swift, showrunners Robert and Michelle King posted a letter on the CBS website. They write that they could have sent Will Gardner "off to Seattle" or had him disbarred. But, they said, "there was something in the passion that Will and Alicia shared that made distance a meager hurdle."

So, they killed him. They hope the event will propel Alicia into "her newest incarnation."

Some fans and critics are not impressed. "Why The ... Shocking Twist Betrayed the Show's Characters," wrote Vulture. And the headline on our own pop-culture blog reads "Ugh: 'Good Wife,' Bad Idea."

Killing off a major TV character is nothing new, of course: Think Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey, or Brian Griffin on Family Guy. But Poniewozik isn't sure how this particular fatality will play out.

"I liked at least the adventurousness of it," he says. "Whether or not it ruins the show, tune in next week."

No doubt there will be lots of tears — and, since this is a legal drama, some jockeying for Will's position.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Fans of the CBS legal drama "The Good Wife," especially those who saw last night's episode, will know what we're about to hear about next. If you missed it, you might want to cover your ears for next three minutes. As NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, "The Good Wife" shocked its loyal followers with a major plot twist.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: "The Good Wife" centers around smart, attractive, Chicago lawyer Alicia Florrick. She's the good wife because she stood by her politician husband who cheated on her. But the most compelling storyline is between Alicia and another lawyer, Will Gardner.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE GOOD WIFE")

JULIANNA MARGULIES: (As Alicia Florrick) We might have our differences, but you're the better lawyer.

JOSH CHARLES: (As Will Gardner) I am, aren't I?

MARGULIES: (As Alicia Florrick) And the more humble.

BLAIR: If you don't want to know what happened last night, stop listening.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE GOOD WIFE")

ARCHIE PANJABI: (As Kalinda Sharma) Shots fired at Cook County courthouse.

SHAUNA MILES: (As Sherriff Hardy) Everyone stay put.

BLAIR: Will Gardner was killed in a courtroom shooting. It's safe to say that longtime fans watching the show were stunned. Susan Anastasi, a fan in Maryland, says then she got angry.

SUSAN ANASTASI: I was so mad, I thought how could they do it? Because the sexual tension between Alicia and Will has always been the heart of the show. And we've been rooting for the two of them to get together since the show began but she kept going back to her cheating husband.

BLAIR: Even TV critics, who can usually sniff out these explosive episodes ahead of time, were caught off guard. James Poniewozik is Time Magazine's TV critic.

JAMES PONIEWOZIK: It sort of took me a while to kind of wrestle with my feelings about the episode beyond just shock.

BLAIR: As soon as the episode aired last night, CBS began explaining the decision to fans. In an online video, Josh Charles, the actor who plays Will, said he wanted to leave the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO)

CHARLES: However much I've enjoyed the experience, I was ready for the next chapter of my life, both creatively and personally.

BLAIR: A big problem for the show's creators, Robert and Michelle King. After five banner years, their male lead decides to leave. Knowing the outrage would be swift, the Kings posted a letter on the CBS website. They write that they could have sent Will Gardner off to Seattle or had him disbarred. But, they said, there was something in the passion that Will and Alicia shared that made distance a meager hurdle. So they killed him. They hope the event will propel Alicia into, quote, "her newest incarnation."

Some fans and bloggers were not impressed. Vulture writes "Why The Shocking Twist Betrayed the Show's Characters." The headline on NPR's pop-culture blog Monkey See, "Ugh: 'Good Wife,' Bad Idea." Killing off a major TV character is nothing new. Think Matthew Crawley on "Downton Abbey," and Brian Griffin on "Family Guy." Time Magazine's James Poniewozik isn't sure how this death on "The Good Wife" will play out.

PONIEWOZIK: I liked at least the adventurousness of it. Whether or not it ruins the show, you know, tune in next week.

BLAIR: No doubt there will be lots of tears and, since this is a legal drama, some jockeying for Will's position. Elizabeth Blair, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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