Hot Mess Television

The Good Wife Feud Has Been Confirmed, And Everyone Should Be Ashamed

The cat’s out of the bag.

This morning, Vulture published comments made by The Good Wife star Julianna Margulies about her alleged feud with former co-star Archie Panjabi (both received Emmys for their roles). As expected, she denied the rumors and insisted that scheduling conflicts with Panjabi’s other series, Netflix’s The Fall, were responsible for the infamous final scene between their characters Within a couple of hours of the posting, Panjabi took to Twitter and claimed there was no scheduling conflict and she was available.

And just like that, the whispers became a loud, Twitter-fueled roar.

Some background: Margulies and Panjabi allegedly had a falling out so terrible that their scenes together on The Good Wife were dramatically cut, to nothing. BuzzFeed actually did the math; the two hadn’t shared a camera frame in over 50 episodes, even though their characters interacted regularly. Considering how close their characters Alicia Florrick and Kalinda Sharma were (even though a season two storyline had them at odds), it made no narrative sense for the characters to share no screen time. Attempts to keep them in contact (they worked together at the same law firm, after all) ranged from barely reasonable to outright silly, culminating in the now infamous final scene they shared at the end of last season. Touted as the big Alicia/Kalinda goodbye, it was later revealed that Margulies and Panjabi shot the scene separately, with rather sloppy editing bringing them together. The moment was panned by fans and critics alike as deception.

If there was any doubt that something did happen behind the scenes, it’s now gone thanks to Panjabi’s tweet. It’s nice to know that fans and critics weren’t crazy in noticing that something obviously wasn’t right. It is also incredibly disappointing, because regardless of what actually happened, it was handled wrong at every level, by all parties.

I won’t presume to know what happened between Julianna Margulies and Archie Panjabi, and it’s frankly none of my business, which should’ve been the point. Any personal issues between the two incredibly talented, highly capable actresses should’ve never found its way to set. It’s their job to act, even if it’s acting like they don’t despise each other. If the situation was completely untenable, then a clear-cut decision should’ve been made about Kalinda’s future with the show (obviously Alicia wasn’t going anywhere; she’s the titular character). Instead, Kalinda languished in storyline hell for two seasons. That leads us to Robert and Michelle King, the show’s two creators. It’s boggling that these two brilliant minds were unable to figure out a sustainable solution to whatever drama was impeding the actresses. I mean, this was the pairing behind “Hitting The Fan”, one of the most explosive episodes of drama aired in the last five years. A relationship of phone conversations is not a realistic one, especially when the two characters work together in the same city. And then there was that last scene. Frankly, fans had every right to feel cheated. I surely did. It was a fake, a terrible fake at that, and an insult to the audience’s intelligence that has no justification.

Also insulting were the frequently unconvincing denials of any kind of problem. I can appreciate wanting to keep private issues private, but complete silence would’ve been better than what was given as official responses. TVLine’s Michael Ausiello interviewed the Kings about last season, and confronted them about the Alicia/Kalinda scene. They insisted there was no effort to “dupe” viewers, and then went into a non-sensical ramble about television trickery and keeping things secretive and not discussing gossip. To call their response unsatisfying would be an understatement. At least Margulies’ explanation was somewhat plausible, before Panjabi blew it all to hell. I guess it’s never too late for honesty.

The Good Wife is one of television’s best programs The writing is stellar, the acting is top-notch, and the topics covered are poignant and very timely. What a disappointment, then, that all of this accomplishment has to be diminished by backstage insanity that made everyone look petty and unprofessional. Now that the feud is all but confirmed, hopefully the show can put this shameful chapter behind them and go back to producing excellent television again.

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