Brow Beat

Yes,The Good Wife Finale Faked a Crucial Scene. But Why Are People So Upset?

This weekend, while most of the TV Twitterverse was saying kaddish for Mad Men, a few outliers were revisiting a week-old outrage. TVLine.com editor and former Entertainment Weekly scoop-slinger Michael Ausiello revealed that in The Good Wife season finale, which aired May 10, the scene between Julianna Margulies and Archie Panjabi, who appeared together after more than 45 episodes apart, was achieved with technological intervention. Or, as Ausiello breathlessly put it: “Margulies and Panjabi did not shoot that scene together, I have come to learn. Body doubles were employed for the single shots, and the two-shot was spliced together in post-production.” Knowing this, Ausiello said, “I felt like an idiot. I felt duped. … I was disappointed.”

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Ausiello merely confirmed something that many had suspected when the episode aired. Certainly, the show’s fans were watching closely. When Good Wife showrunners Michelle and Robert King announced back in October that Panjabi would be leaving the show at the end of the season, most of the stories asked if Panjabi’s Kalinda Sharma would film a valedictory scene with Margulies’ Alicia Florick. It was pure fan service to bring them together for one last drink at the bar where they had so many squiffy sessions in the show’s early days. I can only imagine the outcry if they’d skipped a farewell, even a “faked” one, or if they’d made less of an effort with it.

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Once you know the truth, it’s hard not to notice that the actresses seem to be looking past each other, but at least the Kings tried to fool us—at one point the two women clink glasses in a way that’s almost but not quite convincing. The bar scene was a lot more believable than the flashback sequence earlier in the season when a shadowy figure stood in for Alicia’s deceased former lover/boss Will Gardner. And it was a lot more satisfying than all the pretexts the writers kept offering for Kalinda and Alicia to communicate by telephone or to just miss each other—as in the antepenultimate episode when Kalinda went to the Alicia’s apartment to “speak to her personally,” only to learn that she was out.

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I’m frankly surprised that some viewers feel stung by the finale’s technical deception. I hope no one tells them that all those scenes of people driving around in cars involve no actual movement; that the show’s trials aren’t filmed in a real courtroom; or that the Chicago-set show is made in New York. Superhero movies aren’t the only dramas that use green-screen work, and it seems naive to grumble about it. I suspect that many of the complaints are a pretext to establish that the author is aware of the rumored feud between Margulies and Panjabi, but since no one—not even well-connected Ausiello—knows the cause of the hostilities, The Good Wife team deserves praise for keeping a lid on its personnel issues.

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All this isn’t to say that I don’t have my own frustrations with the recently concluded season. I’m glad to hear that Lemond Bishop has decided to leave the drug business, because I simply could not take another run-through of the storyline in which a beloved characters has to choose between a long prison sentence, losing their law license, or certain death at Bishop’s hands. At least three characters have faced this dilemma, and after much huffing and puffing, they all got a sudden, last-minute reprieve. Far too much of Season 6 was dedicated to Alicia’s campaign for state’s attorney—a position she was forced to give up almost immediately after she won it. And for reasons that were even less convincing than the farewell scene, Kalinda had become Bishop’s nanny/school pickup chauffeur. She spent so much time driving his son Dylan around, it’s hard to know when she managed to dig up information to save every single one of Lockhart, Agos, and Lee’s clients.

Over six seasons, The Good Wife has proved itself willing to take big risks and make major changes to keep things fresh and unpredictable. It’s time for Alicia to drink with someone new.

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