The Good Wife
Episode 21: A More Perfect Union
By: Carlos Uribe
The Good Wife is a show about Alicia Florrick and her career and scandalous personal life.
The Good Wife has a tendency to find interesting ways to explore the legal system. This week is no exception as the writers decide to tackle labor union laws. Alicia is dragged by her mother into helping a group of programmers get a fair contract from their employer. Only this company doesn't want to negotiate with them because they don't see programmers as employees but as artists. They try to fire this insurgent group but Alicia and Cary decide to save their jobs by claiming that the programmers were seeking to create a union. This means having to go in front the NLRB and trying to stall the trial until the company was willing to negotiate with them. This trial would basically hinder the company's ability to hire new employees. The programmers would hold leverage to negotiate a better deal. Only the judge who has their case likes to compromise so the programmers have to actually claim they were planning to collectively bargain. They manage to win their case but then they have to actually win the union election. They're able to do this with the help of their lawyers and they unionize. Only it was all in vain as the company they work for was bought by ChumHum at a bargain price. They lost their jobs anyways. I love watching this show and feeling like I learned something about the law and this was no exception. I'm not a big fan of unions but it was fascinating seeing how one could be potentially be formed. It's true that the weekly case might not have been the most exciting but it was certainly intriguing. I also feel like it's a unique topic for any show to approach since the intricacies of labor union politics are rarely touched on by television.
What was really fun was how the weekly case affected the office politics. The assistants on the Good Wife are largely invisible. They exist in the background as they rarely matter. It turns out that the assistants are overworked, underpaid, and constantly mistreated by David Lee. They aren't happy with their workplace conditions but they're willing to take it. That is until Alicia's assistant happens to learn more about labor laws due to this case. She's informed of workplace standards that their not getting and that they can't be fired if they're trying to unionize. They go as far as to get consulting help from a labor official. They don't have the numbers to unionize so they can't really strike but they do stop being competent. It gets to the point to where the partners have to listen to their demands even if actually meeting them isn't on the table. The demands are actually completely reasonable but Will and Diane don't want to set the precedent of accepting them for when they get unreasonable. David Lee's solution to simply fire them is dismissed because it opens up the firm to numerous lawsuits. They come up with a compromise of basically buying out the ringleaders. The assistant rebellion falls down and peace is restored in the firm. I think this is one of the rare cases where what's actually happening in the weekly case is used by the firm's employees to advocate for their desires. It's an example of the Good Wife is able to take something (labor law) and apply it to the firm with ease. It's not just these negotiations that have to do with the workplace conditions but Kalinda is disappointed to learn Robyn gets health care while she doesn't. This is because Robyn is willing to actually be exclusive. Cary tries to get her to join his new law firm and Kalinda tries to use his offer to get better deals at Lockhart & Gardner. She's even willing to be exclusive for one of them. A bit dull and boring especially since she basically already did this recently.
Office politics might have been a bit fun but the political campaign gets serious. Peter learns that he's actually down by two points. He even has Owen confirm the numbers. The only advice he gets is that they need to go after Kresteva's character. Only he can't do it himself because it would hurt him more than help. He can't be too much on the aggressive since he's still on the path to redemption. The suggestion that Alicia be the one to do it falls on death ears because he doesn't want to involve his wife in smearing his political opponent. It was tough enough getting her to agree to do an interview with Charlie Rose. It turns out he didn't have to ask her to go negative since she did it on her own free will. Alicia is still the magic touch as that interview was good enough to put tie the polls. It's going to be a nailbiter. It's good this is almost over since I really don't care much for the campaign plot anymore but I did like that he asked Alicia to renew their vows. He's really in love with her and he's even able to get Owen on his side. Only she's still in a love triangle as she's struggling to put her feelings for Will behind her. This is complicated when her mother decides to get involved by talking to Will. She gives the man an ultimatum: make a move or he's going to lose Alicia to Peter for good. I have no idea who Alicia is going to pick at this point but it looks like we're getting another season finale where the love triangle is front-and-center to what's happening. As well as the actual election results, Cary's potential new firm, who Kalinda will sign with, and Diane's judge position. That's assuming that the last one will even get addressed in the finale.
A More Perfect Union is a bold episode of the Good Wife as it tackles the non-sexy topic of labor unions. It might not be the most exciting one but it's an interesting one. The office politics was fun as it's always great to watch the partners having to deal with a workplace crisis. Kalinda's negotiation was a little bit too repetitive but I guess the point is to question which firm she'll be working for. The campaign might not really matter anymore to me but it is heating up towards the end but it's really the love triangle that matters. It's a good episode of the Good Wife but a last complaint is that it didn't really fit as the penultimate episode as there was very little narrative momentum. I obviously want to see the finale but I'm not dying to do so. That's because the weekly case subject was a bit dry (despite it's educational value) and the office politics don't seem like they're going to carry on over to the future. I doubt any of the assistants in this episode will have a single line in the finale. Overall, it felt like the series slowed down to a halt when it should have speed up.