This is the second of four farewells from Octagon seniors.
Seven years. That’s how long my favorite television show “The Good Wife” was on air.
When it first premiered, my mother would cover my face whenever the show became brazen in its adult content.
I also vividly remember the withering looks I received from my friends when I preached about the show’s virtues.
I would quickly discover that “The Good Wife” rated as “mommy television,” and was the sort of weird personal idiosyncrasy better left unsaid in the judgement-fueled and often cannibalistic world of middle school.
At its core is the story of a spurned political wife forced to relaunch a legal career after her philandering husband is sent to the slammer.
It’s a coming of age for Alicia Florrick – and me.
In its first season, Alicia was naive, letting the rest of the world affect her. The same phase applied to me in equal measure.
In its third season, the show became my family’s favorite pastime. It was one of few activities we could do together, as my father’s brain tumor had grown so large he was bed bound.
In its fifth season, the show blew itself up, in lockstep with my personal life. Several months after, I lost my father to brain cancer, Alicia lost her mentor Will Gardner to a gunshot, and the show became my sounding board.
Meanwhile, over the years, the titular character climbed the ranks from junior to senior associate, then onwards to equity and partner. I, too, progressed, growing in age, maturity and cynicism.
Many times this past year, Octagon adviser Patricia Fels has remarked that of the three editors-in-chief, I’m the fastest to doubt someone’s plan or see an ulterior motive.
“You’re the cynical one,” she said.
And the show played a big part in making me that way. From the beginning it was about balance: work and family, self and others, power and truth.
Over the past four years, I’ve learned that balance is untenable, no question simple, no answer succinct. The truth resists characterization and easy packaging.
On the show once Alicia came to that realization, the narrative began to wobble. Fellow fans agree with me that the last two seasons were weak.
The last few years have left me bewildered as well.
What is the point? What do I want to do? Who do I want to be?
But these years have also made me resilient.
It’s fitting that after seven symbiotic years, as I let go of this chapter in my life, I’m also letting go of “The Good Wife.”
Just like Alicia, I’ll walk into the future, more cynical, sensible, pragmatic and (possibly) in tears.
But I sure as hell won’t break.
—By Manson Tung