Listening well is the best revenge

Lessons  from The Good Wife

FILE - In this publicity image released by CBS, Julianna Margulies is shown in a scene from "The Good Wife."  (AP Photo/CBS, David M. Russell)

I don’t watch much TV but when I do, I soak in it.

This summer I was in the mood for a TV binge  and my cousin suggested The Good Wife which, Good Lord! has 7 seasons of 23 shows each.  Each night I spend a few hours with Alicia Florrick aka The Good Wife.  For those of you who don’t know,  Alicia is a lawyer in Chicago whose husband is a philandering, corrupt politician.  There are lots of other story lines and character developments, but I’m only on season two and that’s the main scoop.

I was immediately struck by Alicia’s stillness and her ability to listen.  I know, I know, we’ve read about this all our lives, how listening is a skill, that it’s actually more important to listen than to talk.  But  watching the dramatic, legal, criminal and familial applications of this came thundering upon me as it was dramatized on screen.  At first you think Alicia is insecure or shy, but then you realize she is listening. She listens fiercely, and actively.  She is not uncomfortable with silence.  By listening and holding back, she lets the other person fill in the silence.

And here, all along, we thought life was about talking.  We’re always trying to burst in with our thoughts and ideas before the other person has even finished.  What everyone wants, ultimately, is someone who will listen.

Alicia has a stillness.  Her stillness is her power, and it’s what makes her a good lawyer.  Alicia doesn’t react to everything immediately.  She doesn’t hear with her face.

Nor does Alicia spout off the first thing that comes to her mind.  She leaves things unsaid.  When she speaks it is with authenticity and conciseness.  She is formidable in court.

And then there’s the U.S. legal system. What the show has reminded me of, yet again, is that there is no such thing as justice.  We know this from following current events, of course.  But somehow, in the crafted drama of a TV show, it feels more evident.  The Good Wife is a constant lesson that there is no right and wrong, there is a good lawyer and a better lawyer, and the best lawyer wins. That’s all.

I’m enjoying my TV education in the law, learning about double jeopardy, the Chinese Wall, the quirky proclivities of private investigators and the travails of running a law firm.  (Profitability can hinge on parking validation, fresh flowers in reception and season’s tickets to the Cubs.)  Then there’s the fascinating reality of  being assigned a judge with his or her own pecadillos, that a lawyer simply must deal with.  Bottom line, the law is something to be afraid of.  Stay on the right side of it, if you can. Going to court is not for sissies.  I both admire and loathe lawyers for their facility in verbal arguments, something which I don’t have.

I adore the street scenes of Chicago, where The Good Wife is set, but it’s always spring and never winter. I’d like to see Alicia trudging through snow and digging her car out.  And of course, her apartment is the size of a house.  Does she ever cook, grocery shop, clean? That’s why TV’s so much fun.

I’ll keep you posted on my Good Wife education as it progresses.  But in the meantime, tell me, what’s a favorite show of yours, that has taught you some lessons for life?

xo Liza


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