Written by Matt Taylor
Last we saw Alicia Florrick, she was just finding out that her chance at being with the late love of her life was squandered by her husband’s overeager campaign manager. Needless to say, she was not pleased, and it seemed like the second half of The Good Wife’s seventh season would be a dramatic one. So… why was this week’s episode, “Iowa”, so damn funny? While it wasn’t the most memorable episode of the season, the episode reminded us of how well The Good Wife walks the tightrope between drama and comedy.
After a dramatic opening scene, which continued the confrontation between Alicia and Eli that closed the previous installment, we quickly flashed forward a few days to find the Florricks on the campaign trail in an attempt to win the Iowa caucus. Of course, Alicia could care less about her husband’s political career, and her half-hearted attempts to campaign with him offered some hilarious moments. Like the series she stars in, Margulies is a master at both dramatic and comedic acting, and her deadpan delivery throughout the episode were wonderful. Alicia’s subplot also called to mind the sexist double standard that men and women are held to in politics, as Alicia is forced to play the role of a concerned housewife on camera, allowing Margulies the chance to shine as she subtly expressed her character’s unhappiness.
The episode also brought the Florrick children back into the spotlight after what feels like an extended absence from the series. Grace and Zach Florrick were always interesting characters, but they were best in small doses. Luckily, they were given just enough screen time this week to make an impression, without becoming annoying. One scene, in which Grace flirted with a young, lesbian voter to get another supporter for her dad felt a bit strange and out of place, but their presence was appreciated. The Iowa subplot also had a genuinely surprising ending, which helped keep the storyline realistic. Not all the jokes landed, but this was a mostly satisfying storyline that provided a welcome change in tone from the more serious episodes that preceded it.
Outside of the main plotline, “Iowa” found The Good Wife’s supporting characters dealing with a variety of subplots, to varying levels of entertainment. Cary and Diane were forced to contend with a discrimination charge placed against the firm, which was far less interesting than it should have been. It would have been nice if the subplot took an unsuspected twist, but all of the developments were, unfortunately, to be expected, and felt like a repeat of earlier storylines. On the other hand, the recently engaged Jackie and Howard decided to discuss their prenuptial arrangement, in a subplot that was both funny and offered a few surprises. The subplot also revealed some new sides of Jackie, as we saw how worried she was about caring for Howard as they both grew old together, as well as how invested she was in her son’s campaign for president.
Typically, it’s a sign of poor writing when a show jumps between two wildly different tones without warning. But, over the past seven years, The Good Wife has mastered the art of blending comedy and drama. “Iowa” was not a particularly memorable episode, but it certainly made for an entertaining hour of television, and the way it succeeded in smoothly shifting gears between drama and comedy is admirable. Hopefully it will continue to juggle these two genres in the coming weeks, especially as Alicia struggles with the very dramatic news she received from Eli last week.
The Good Wife, ‘Iowa’ Overall rating: 7 out of 10.