Published on Mommy Tracked (http://www.mommytracked.com)

Nannygate on "The Good Wife."

by Meredith O'Brien


The Good Wife [1] has a nanny problem. More specifically, all the candidates for the fictional Illinois state’s attorney post had a nanny problem, except for the husband of the main character, Peter Florrick.


As the political/legal procedural has nearly reached the end of its sophomore season, the ripped-from-the-headlines issue of employing nannies who aren’t in the country legally – whether intentionally or accidentally – was a major plot point in a recent episode. But beneath the old illegal domestic workers scandal that has felled many prominent candidates in real life, there seems to be something more at work here.


The state’s attorney campaign got fairly heated over the issue of who the candidates had taking care of their children while they were off working. The only female pol in the bunch, District Attorney Wendy Scott-Carr, was under fire for having employed a woman for five years to watch her children without knowing that the nanny was in the United States illegally. “I didn’t know she was an illegal immigrant,” Scott-Carr said during a debate, professing her love and the love of her children for the nanny.


The incumbent candidate, Glenn Childs scoffed, saying Scott-Carr’s explanation didn’t “wash.” “You can’t just say, ‘Oops, my bad,’” he replied snarkily. “You broke the law ma’am.”


However, The Good Wife folks had something up their sleeves as they showed Scott-Carr at a post-debate press conference saying: “I’m a mother first, an activist second. What I did, I did for my daughters.” She called her two male opponents, Childs and Florrick “hypocritical” because she said they didn’t understand the “struggles” of working mothers.


Cue a Florrick child who came to the rescue of his ex-convict father. Peter Florrick had been imprisoned on public corruption charges and had slept with prostitutes, cheating on his then-at-home wife Alicia, who’d left her legal career to raise their children, therefore sparing her Peter from ever having to have a nanny problem, earning her the label of “June Cleaver” from her husband’s campaign manager.


The Florricks’ son, Zach, along with his duplicitous “friend” unearthed a photo of Childs’ son standing next to a nanny who was . . . wait for it . . . not in the country legally. She, in fact, had been hired for three months. When Glenn “You-broke-the-law” Childs caught wind of the fact that the Florrick campaign was onto the story, he tried to pay his former nanny to leave the country. This transaction was, of course, recorded by Florrick campaign aides. A few scenes later, Childs withdrew from the campaign (Florrick never went public with the damning nanny info) leaving ex-con Florrick and former illegally nanny employer Scott-Carr in a two-person race.


What I find particularly interesting is that the female candidate, Scott-Carr has been absolutely pummeled in this race throughout the season, while the other candidates haven’t, at least not to the degree that she’s been attacked. She was taunted, several episodes back, by a vicious flier [2] which asked if she was “really” African-American because she’s married to a white man. (Her teary-eyed daughter had brought the flier home.) Earlier in the season, Scott-Carr was parodied in a nasty video which went viral about the fact that she’d had breast implant surgery, a move engineered by Florrick’s campaign aide Eli Gold. Problem is, the reason she had the surgery wasn’t vanity, as was suggested by the video. It was reconstructive in the wake of her battle with breast cancer.


For a show that holds up Alicia Florrick as its haloed hero -- as the betrayed wife and mother who’s risen from the humiliating ashes of her husband’s incarceration and scorchingly public marital infidelities after she’d paused her own career for her family, having Alicia play the loyal, responsible moral compass -- it’s been dispiriting to watch this fictional political campaign where Peter Florrick, a man who did his best Eliot Spitzer impersonation, seems to be neck-and-neck with someone whose biggest flaw was having hired a nanny whom she didn’t know was in the country illegally.


It’s as dispiriting as watching the real Eliot Spitzer -- who resigned his governor’s post [3] in disgrace nearly three years ago after his own call girl scandal came to light – be rewarded with a CNN primetime talk show, Parker Spitzer, and then seeing CNN fire Kathleen Parker [4], his female, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist co-host, in what some called a move that smacked of sexism [5].


I hope that in the fictional Good Wife candidate, Wendy Scott-Carr, doesn’t get Spitzer-ed too and that Florrick -- who knew he was breaking the law, at least with those prostitutes -- loses the campaign. If Florrick wins, I don’t know what kind of message that’ll send.

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