Politics and Family.

by Meredith O'Brien


Politics have dominated the news during the past week, what with the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts ending in what major news outlets called an “epic upset” with the Republican defeating the Democrat. The media, excited by the Senate race then shined a tabloid spotlight onto Senator-elect Scott Brown’s family, while the gossip-filled 2008 presidential campaign expose Game Change, which took several potshots at candidates’ spouses, rocketed to the top of best seller’s lists. (I discussed Game Change earlier.) At the same time, mirroring reality, campaigning for elected office has been prominently featured in the storylines of a couple of primetime shows, dramatizing the impact of politics on families with children.


Politics have been a staple of CBS’ The Good Wife since it premiered this past fall. The pilot episode took place amid the debris of a Chicago pol’s sex scandal which left him behind bars after being convicted on corruption charges. Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), a state’s attorney, had his dalliances with prostitutes plastered all over the media – there were videos too – which shamed his wife Alicia (Julianna Margulies in her Golden Globe winning role) and their two teenagers. In the wake of her husband’s fall from grace, Alicia moved the children out of the affluent ‘burbs and into the city as she went back to work as a attorney after a decade-plus absence to keep her family afloat financially.


As the freshman season of The Good Wife has progressed, various people have harassed Alicia and her children as payback to the incarcerated pol who has a lot of political enemies. Photos and videos of Peter in compromising situations were left by other politicians at the Florricks’ front doorstep, only to be intercepted by the children and hidden from their mother so she wouldn’t be further hurt by her husband’s misdeeds. In one episode, one of Peter’s many escort friends even made the rounds of high profile TV interviews and publically mocked Alicia.


The Good Wife shows a straying politician’s family paying a huge price – emotionally and financially – for his mistakes and for the controversial decisions he made in the political arena. And with Peter’s character suggesting that, if he secures an early release, he’s hoping to re-enter politics, we’ll soon be treated to stories about the resurrection of a politician while his family suffers in silence. (Paging the Spitzer family.)