The Good Wife, as well as being very entertaining and probably the most grown-up show on television, contains some subtly excellent costuming. I haven't posted about it before because the clothes are just one aspect of a show that's brilliant overall, but like many aspects of TGW's quality they crept up on me.
This post requires a little backstory, but no major spoilers for the latest episode (3x10). Earlier in the season Alicia ( lawyer and titular "Good Wife") was told to hire a new junior, a choice narrowed down to two young women. Caitlin had a good resume but came across as a little frivolous, and Alicia clearly found it easier to relate to the more serious-minded Martha. However, Alicia was told to hire Caitlin anyway because she was the neice of one of the senior partners.
Because TGW is a show with three-dimensional adult characters, this didn't result in sulking or infighting. Although Caitlin wasn't Alicia's first choice, they've ended up with a good professional relationship, with Alicia even mentoring Caitlin to a certain extent. This week, though, showed the return of Martha, opposing them in court alongside Alicia's longtime rival, Michael J. Fox (!).
From left to right: Alicia, the client (an English professor played by Jennifer Carpenter of Dexter fame), and Caitlin. Alicia is wearing one of her billion skirt-suits and Jennifer Carpenter looks as much like an English professor as you can make someone who is both smoking hot and best known for playing a foul-mouthed ex-Vice-cop, but Caitlin's who I want to talk about.
I'm never 100% clear on the relationship between women's officewear on American TV and women's officewear in American reality. Do high-flying lawyers wear that many slinky dresses? Maybe. After all, who else can afford them? Anyway, Caitlin's dress looks great, but that's mainly because she's slim and beautiful -- it's quite a plain dress in fact. It goes down to the knee, up to the neck, and has almost a full sleeve. Any complaints about its suitability can be attributed to straight-up body policing, in my opinion. But now let's take a look at what Martha's wearing:
|Because calf-length tailored robes make hand-to-hand combat so easy.|
|See? I told you Michael J. Fox was in this show!|
I've written before about my love of the underestimated-bimbo character in popular culture (for example, Patricia Arquette in True Romance), and have been watching the unveiling of Caitlin's character with great interest. With typical TGW wit and balance, this episode was neither a subversion nor an affirmation of the stereotypes Martha and Caitlin represent. Caitlin performs well in court, but retains the overly friendly and sorority-girl-ish mannerisms that cause people to make assumptions about her (sometimes accurately). Martha is rather smug and academically competative, but isn't the clear-cut academic career-woman the show might have made her -- she doesn't let the case devolve into a personal conflict, and calls for help when she needs it. Maybe the character traits that set them apart will serve them well later on, though. In TGW, most lawyers have some affectation or idiosyncrasy they habitually use to their adventage in court, and if Martha and Caitlin are to succeed they'll probably have to harness whichever easily-judged quirk they were born with.
One final thing about Caitlin's dress:
|The most important thing in this photo is the back of Alan Cumming's perfect haircut.|
*Equilibrium note: I can never decide which scene is better -- the one where Sean Bean reveals that poetry reawakened his previously-blocked emotions, the one where Christian Bale fights Taye Diggs and you kind of expect them to end up making out, or the one where Christian Bale proves he's human by rescuing a puppy and then staring at it quizzically for like fifteen seconds straight?