'The Good Wife' will end: What made the CBS drama great?

CBS announced during the Super Bowl that the current season of 'The Good Wife' will be its last. What made this show great?

John Shearer/Invision/AP
'The Good Wife' star Julianna Margulies attends the 2014 Golden Globes.

Network CBS announced during Super Bowl 50 that its acclaimed drama “The Good Wife” will be ending this year.

“Good” stars Julianna Margulies and centers on a woman whose politician husband has an affair. She returns to work as a lawyer. 

The show co-stars Christine Baranski, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming, and Chris Noth. 

“Good” has been a critically acclaimed show since its debut in 2009, with the program being nominated for such Emmy Awards as best drama series and Margulies winning multiple awards for best actress in a drama series. The program is currently airing its seventh season.

In a time when TV awards shows are often dominated by offerings from cable networks and streaming TV, “Good” was one of the few broadcast programs to consistently make the cut for awards such as the best drama series. While it missed out on such awards as the Emmys and the Golden Globes this past year, when “Good” was nominated for the best drama series Golden Globe in 2015, it was nominated alongside Showtime’s “The Affair,” Netflix’s “House of Cards,” HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” and PBS’s “Downton Abbey” (which is a British import.) 

This year, Fox’s “Empire” became the first broadcast show besides “Good” to receive a best drama series Golden Globe nomination in some time.

What made “Good” stand out among its broadcast fellows? What made viewers and critics enjoy the show for much of its run? 

The program distinguished itself early on with its already-well-known cast, which included “ER” star Margulies, Noth of “Sex and the City,” “Sports Night” actor Josh Charles, and Christine Baranski and Alan Cumming, both of whom are known for their stage work, among many other projects.

Baranski spoke recently about what she finds impressive about the show. 

“I think it’s been consistently one of the most well-written shows in television,” the actress said in an interview with TheWrap

Incorporating unexpected plot developments and inspiration from current events, “Good” has earned praise from critics for its creative storytelling. While keeping the quality of episodes high is most likely a challenge the longer a show goes on, many critics praised the fifth season of the program in particular. 

“This fifth-season finale speaks volumes for the enduring quality of ‘The Good Wife,’” Vulture writer Jennifer Keishin Armstrong wrote at that season’s conclusion. “’The Good Wife’… is dealing in truly great, not cheap or soap-operatic, drama.” 

While certain plotlines have occasionally been criticized during the show’s run, the show currently remains strong, according to Entertainment Weekly writer Jeff Jenson.

“Here, late in its life (season 7!), showrunners Robert and Michelle King Michael and their cast, led by an unfailingly dialed-in Julianna Margulies, refuses to settle for auto-pilot zombiehood,” Jenson wrote. “Their creation remains one of the most inspired shows on television, and since its extraordinary mid-franchise renaissance in season 5, TV’s best drama about the grind and glory, tumult and necessity of mid-life revolutions and reinvention(s) – business that its adult audience can relate to, and a relatively new rite of passage in American life.”

And of course, any good TV show needs talent behind the scenes. Co-creators Robert and Michelle King (who had previously announced they would be leaving the show) have received praise from critics as a key part of the show’s creative success.

“The Kings have shown themselves to be unusually flexible and pragmatic TV makers, taking risks, then backpedalling quickly when they fail,” Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker wrote of the program. Washington Post writer Emily Yahr wrote of the announcement that the Kings would be leaving, “It’s hard to imagine that ‘The Good Wife’ would maintain the same tone without the Kings, who took the series from a fairly standard legal procedural and turned it into one of the best shows on television – regularly considered in the same category as prestige cable dramas, which generally get all the attention.”

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