A quick confession: I have been meaning to watch The Good Wife. I have friends who love it, who evangelize for it, I’ve heard it’s smart and sexy and about a full-grown woman played by Julianna Margulies dealing with the most fascinating humiliation of all, at least at the outset: being the smiling wife next to the politician who has sinned. And it’s written and created by a husband-and-wife team, a showrunning setup I am super interested in. But … the show is on CBS. I am, for now, young (or insufferable, ha?) enough to not have a TV. It wasn’t really available for streaming until last year when it popped up on HuluPlus, where you pay for the pleasure of rare BBC shows and commercials. So I haven’t caught up on The Good Wife‘s goodness.
[And now, a warning: spoilers ahead.]
Which is too bad, because last night, something big went down. Popular character Will Gardner (Josh Charles), the male lead of the show, the once and maybe future true love of Margulies’ Alicia Florrick, was shot and killed in a shocking moment. The Good Wife team even managed to keep the central reason behind this development — Charles’ contract being up — out of the trades and sites like Deadline. I don’t even think this episode was being pushed as “The Most. Dramatic. Episode. Of All Time!” (unlike every installment of The Bachelor), which is awesome.
But for those of us who actually need to use Twitter, particularly for work reasons, we’re shit out of luck for having our shows go unspoiled. So many Good Wife fans were saying: “Wow, holy shit, what just happened, I need to talk about it with somebody.” This tweet here (by occasional Flavorwire contributor Nadia Chaudhury) is not atypical:
And you’d have to have superhuman skills not to figure out what happened, or to just click on over to the spoiler. We all consume TV differently these days — look at Girls‘ anemic initial ratings versus the millions tuning into 2 Broke Girls. When things happen, when plots twist and things go down, we turn to communities like Twitter and Facebook in order to commiserate. The result? It is impossible to avoid spoilers.
I’ve been a longtime Breaking Bad fan, and the frenzy online for its last eight episodes ran at such a breathless pace that if you didn’t watch the show the minute it aired in the East Coast, you ran the risk of knowing everything that happened, which is deadly to a show that had a lot of plot and a lot of plot twists. But I felt something missing with the final episode. Here’s the best example: the last shot of Jesse in his car was brilliant, full of a whole mix of emotion, screaming and crying, speeding towards freedom or destruction; and then the commercials came on, and coincidentally, we saw Aaron Paul in a car, again, advertising his stupid future in Disney’s Need for Speed. And it was kind of hard to not think about Jesse as driving off into a dumb big-screen movie based on a video game, when the power of that last shot came from the Antione Doinel in The 400 Blows-like where do we go from here? question of Jesse’s future. I wasn’t quite able to escape into the story the way I wanted to.
It’s why, to be honest, I find Matt Weiner of Mad Men‘s mad insistence on no spoilers, and the resulting previews for Mad Men that make no sense, quite refreshing. But the secret to Mad Men‘s appeal isn’t in the plot, it’s the little moments. I’m starting to feel like the way to enjoy TV as it’s consumed madly these days is to take pleasure in the small stuff — to be fully aware that spoilers will probably happen unless you make sure to watch some appointment TV, and if you don’t do that, it’s your loss. The earnest still hopefully hop on Twitter and say something like “NO SPOILERS,” but I don’t really think that’s possible these days. If you’re on the Internet, you run the risk of being spoiled about a story you may be interested in just as much as you run the risk of seeing eight photos of a your college roommate’s new baby.
And so far, the journey for The Good Wife, as far as I can tell, is of a strong woman in a terrible situation becoming self-actualized and taking her power back, while also being a great lawyer. That’s a journey that should matter, and that will be fun to watch when I get to it — even if I am woefully spoiled on its major plot points.