Alicia Florrick (née Cavanaugh) is the lead character of CBS television series The Good Wife and is portrayed by Julianna Margulies, who has received positive reviews for her performance, winning two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
|The Good Wife character|
September 22, 2009
May 8, 2016
|Created by||Robert King and Michelle King|
|Portrayed by||Julianna Margulies|
|Aliases||Alicia Cavanaugh (birth name)|
|Relatives||Jackie Florrick (mother-in-law)|
Alicia's storyline focuses on her romantic relationships, including the struggle between staying with or divorcing her unfaithful husband, Peter Florrick, or pursuing other relationships with other men, most notably Will Gardner. Other storylines include Alicia's transformation from "the victim" to "the victimizer", her dealing with the negative consequences of her actions, her devotion to her children among political turmoil, her obsession with power, and her growth in confidence.
Alicia Cavanaugh was born in 1967 to Veronica Cavanaugh (Stockard Channing) and an unknown father, from whom Veronica separated from prior to her first appearance in the series in season four. She is the older sister of Owen Cavanaugh (Dallas Roberts), whom she loves very much, having grown close during their parents' separation, despite his tendency to meddle in her personal life. Her mother, now going by the name of Veronica Loy, makes her first appearance in "A Defense of Marriage" during season four, where it is revealed that Alicia had become estranged from her mother due to her various remarriages following her separation from Alicia's father as well as her infidelity. Veronica never afforded Alicia a motherly connection, and her father was never given the opportunity to, leading Alicia to become emotionally withdrawn, a tendency she has demonstrated frequently throughout the series. Ironically, Alicia has engaged in several of the same practices as her mother that she disapproves of, including infidelity, various relationships, and estrangement from her children.
Alicia attended Georgetown University Law Center, where she graduated at the top of her class in 1992, despite her tendency to sleep during lectures she didn’t find interesting. While attending, she met and befriended Will Gardner (Josh Charles), who graduated alongside her. During their time in law school, Will and Alicia had an unofficial relationship, but never evolved into a proper relationship due to their “bad timing”. Following her graduation from Georgetown, she became a junior litigate at mid-sized Chicago law firm Crozier, Abrams & Abbott, where she clocked the most billable hours of any associate. While working there, she meets Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), another lawyer with political ambitions, whom she marries a few years later and adopts the Florrick surname. Alicia doesn’t share Peter’s political ambition, but accommodates his, resigning from Crozier, Abrams & Abbott to become a political “good wife” where she acts as a political instrument during campaigns and fundraisers. For this role, she receives the moniker of “Saint Alicia”, a label she finds humorous. The two eventually move to Highland Parks, an upscale neighborhood in the Chicago suburbs where her and Peter raise Zachary “Zach” Florrick (Graham Phillips), and Grace Florrick (Makenzie Vega). She befriends her neighbors, but quickly becomes ostracized following a highly publicized sex scandal concerning her husband, the incumbent State’s Attorney for Cook County, Illinois.
Months prior to the series, a political rival of Peter’s, Glenn Childs (Titus Welliver), who had his sights set on Peter’s job, leaks a sex tape of Peter and Amber Madison (Kim Shaw), a Chicago escort. The tape raises questions over whether Peter abused his office, with accusations of trading political favors for sexual services and material items being lobbied against him. The story first breaks on CNBC, and Alicia immediately shields her children from all news stations to shield them from the news. Peter resigns in order to avoid impeachment, but is ultimately convicted of charges of corruption, leading Alicia to believed that she, as well as her children, had become collateral damage in a political feud between Peter and Childs. Upon his resignation, Alicia slaps Peter for victimizing her and their children.
Having been out of the workforce for nearly a decade, and left with no income, Alicia assumes the role of breadwinner of the Florrick family. Her, Zach, and Grace move to a condo in inner Chicago while she searches for a new job, which she has trouble doing due to her family’s damaged reputation. Eventually, she reconnects with Will, who is now a name partner at Chicago law firm Stern, Lockhart, & Gardner. He offers her a job at his firm, which she accepts, but soon comes to learn that the position offered to her was already filled by a younger, Harvard-educated lawyer, Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry). Being a friend of Will’s, him and another name partner, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), organize an arrangement by which the two will compete for the job and, in six months, one will be laid off.
Alicia is designated the role by Diane of being “the branch between the legal and political”, using her husband, who then resides in a county prison, to solicit information on cases she is working, much to the displeasure of judges, who view this practice as unethical. She is shown to be a competent lawyer, which allows her to keep her job at Lockhart/Gardner, resulting in a vindictive Cary being laid off. As a consequence, Alicia becomes the target of attacks by Cary, now working under Glenn at the State’s Attorney’s office.
Lockhart/Gardner enters financial trouble in the fourth season, finding itself hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. Will and Diane hire an accountant (Clark Hayden) to ensure the firm remains solvent, but he soon becomes overzealous in his efforts and over-invested in the firm’s financial survival that he attempts to remove Will and Diane as name partner following their inability to repay debts to their shareholders in a timely manner. In an effort to quickly raise capital for their repayments, Will and Diane offer Alicia a partnership at the firm. Believing this to be a reward for her efforts and success, Alicia is overjoyed to become a partner, but becomes furious when she learned that this had only been an attempt to raise money, as a partnership had been offered to all fourth-year associates, including a newly rehired Cary.
Cary proposed that he and Alicia begin their own firm, and take the other fourth year associates, as well as one of the in-house investigators, with them. While initially rejecting this offer, she begins to grow sympathetic to this idea due to her contempt for other employees at Lockhart/Gardner. Beginning in season five, Alicia and Cary conspire to leave Lockhart/Gardner and poach several big-name clients for themselves. While downloading documents for ongoing cases they intend to continue litigating at Florrick/Agos, Diane discovers her plot, and informs Will, who confiscates her laptop and cellphone. Will promptly fires Alicia and Cary, as well as all others who have been attempting to poach Lockhart/Gardner clients.
Will, betrayed due to the generosity he extended to Alicia, becomes reinvigorated, and initiates an expansion of Lockhart/Gardner into the east and west coast. However, Alicia utilizes Peter, who had been released from prison and subsequently elected governor of Illinois, to continue poaching clients. In one instance, Peter threatens to apply sales tax to the Internet and Internet-based companies in a subtle warning to ChumHum (a spoof of Google) that, should they not hire Florrick/Agos as their civil litigator firm, he will hurt their business. However, following Will’s death, Diane and Alicia and Cary reunite to form Florrick/Agos & Lockhart.
Alicia returns to work at Lockhart, Agos, & Lee following her withdrawal from the state’s attorney race, and on her first day back, her former coworkers stall her in a room so that they may poach remaining clients that left the firm when Alicia resigned. When Alicia discovers this, she proposes starting a law firm with Finn Polmar (Matthew Goode), an unofficial significant other. These plans fall through when Finn leaves town, so Alicia, in search of employment, becomes a bond court lawyer. There, she meets and befriends Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo), a fellow bond court lawyer. The two begin their own law firm, but this is eventually dissolved when both of them are hired by Lockhart, Agos, & Lee. Diane, over the objections of Cary, makes Alicia a name partner in a bid to make a female-led firm. Cary, after a feud with Diane over Alicia’s position, resigns to become a guest lecturer at a local college, sick of office politics he has been embroiled in over the past three years. Diane and Alicia eventually remove David Lee (Zach Grenier) as a name partner, and the two become the name partners of a female-led law firm.
Alicia has made no appearances on The Good Fight, but has been revealed to have resigned from Florrick & Lockhart within a year after the firm’s readjustment.
The name of the show is a reference to Alicia’s position within Peter’s wife: the political good wife. Her role is solely to bolster Peter’s political career, a job she continues to do following Peter’s release from prison. However, while she tolerates the political spotlight, she refuses to let her children be exploited so the same purposes, which often leads to conflict between her and Eli Gold (Alan Cumming), Peter’s campaign manager, who sees Zach and Grace as effective political props.
At the end of season five, Eli, now Peter’s chief of staff, proposes she run for state’s attorney of Cook County, the office her husband previously occupied. While initially rejecting this offer, Alicia acquiesces due to her objections regarding the incumbent states attorney’s abuse of power. The incumbent eventually departs from the race, and Alicia, instead, runs opposed to Frank Prady (David Hyde Pierce), a television legal analyst. Initially, Alicia and Prady form an alliance in which they both agree not to resort to personal attacks. However, both renege of their promises when Prady criticizes Alicia’s ethics and accuses her of being open to political favors for her past clients and when Alicia released an ad that accused Prady of being a closeted-Republican, as well as insinuating that he may be gay. Alicia is also seen lying to influential Cook County figures in order to secure their endorsements. These lies included denying knowledge that Lemond Bishop (Mike Colter), infamous drug kingpin and serial killer, donated to her campaign, when she had already been made aware of the fact that Bishop had set up her PAC, as well as suggesting that Prady is gay to a homophobic Democratic donor in order to acquire funds.
Alicia eventually wins the election, but is forced to resign by Mike Landau (Mike Pniewski), head of the Illinois Democratic Party. After reports of voter fraud surface, Landau reveals to Alicia that he rigged the voting machines in order to preserve the Democratic supermajority in the Illinois state legislature. However, in order to maintain the façade of a fair election, Landau forces Alicia to resign.
In the seventh season, Peter runs for president, in hopes of becoming Hillary Clinton’s vice president, in which Alicia continues to support him. However, Peter comes in third in the Iowa caucuses, diminishing any hope of him being tapped for the nomination, signaling Alicia’s exit from politics.
The seventh season follows Peter’s prosecution, once again, for corruption, accused of destroying evidence to secure funds from a wealthy Democratic donor, whose son was on trial, during his tenure as state’s attorney. Alicia agrees not to forestall their divorce until after the trial as to not exude the notion that he may be guilty. However, Alicia intends to pursue a divorce if Peter is acquitted, but any such separation would be jeopardized should Peter be convicted.
Desperate to acquit Peter so she may divorce him in favor of pursuing her relationship with Jason Crouse (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Alicia, Diane, and Lucca pursue the strategy of proving Peter had no reason to discard the evidence because the donor’s son wasn’t guilty. In doing so, Alicia brings Diane’s husband, Kurt McVeigh (Gary Cole), a ballistics expert, to testify that the bullets likely didn’t come from the donor’s son’s gun. This testimony is immediately undercut by another ballistics expert. Alicia, seeking to refute this testimony, calls Kurt back to the stand, and pressures him to contradict this testimony. However, when Kurt refuses, Lucca, at Alicia’s request, accuses him of protecting Holly, the other ballistic expert, due to an affair they had while Kurt was married to Diane.
Diane, hurt and betrayed, blames Alicia for destroying her marriage. After attending Peter’s resignation, she confronts Alicia and, without saying anything, slaps Alicia and walks away. This scene was significant to writer Robert and Michelle King, who saw this as symbolizing Alicia’s transition from being the “victimized”, having her life ruined by her unfaithful and corrupt husband, to the “victimizer” having destroyed Kurt and Diane’s marriage so she may pursue her own relationship. In effect, by the finale, Alicia had become Peter.
The characterization of Alicia has received critical acclaim, with many favorable comparisons being drawn between her, Breaking Bad's Walter White, Mad Men's Don Draper, and The Sopranos' Tony Soprano. Writing for Vanity Fair, Joanna Robinson writes, "While Alicia took her final bow in an era when the ice zombies on Game of Thrones and the sweaty zombies on The Walking Dead rule pop-culture, Alicia Florrick belongs to the time of Walter White, Don Draper, and the other stars of the golden age of the TV antihero." However, Robinson highlights the difference between Alicia and other anti-heroes, writing "Alicia ends up more callous than either Walter White (who at least went out apologizing to Skyler and saving Pinkman) or Don Draper (who, hey, bought the world a Coke!). Alicia throws Diane right under the bus in a way that the Kings describe as 'collateral damage.' The most charitable interpretation we can come ups with is that at least Alicia was partially thinking of Grace as she did it".
Margulies has received critical acclaim for her performance as Alicia Florrick. In his initial review of the series, Rob Owen of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette praised Margulies' performance, calling the show "a terrific showcase for actress Julianna Margulies, who elevates the already-good material with her perceptive, open performance."
Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter also praised Margulies' performance, writing that "the excellence of Margulies' performance has rested in her refusal to make Alicia easy to understand, in keeping up a complicated wall and choosing those few moments in which to expose emotional cracks." And later compared her performance to those of James Gandolfini on The Sopranos or Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad, writing that "Margulies' performance sometimes put Alicia in that Tony Soprano/Walter White/Don Draper category of cable anti-heroes."
- "About The Good Wife - CBS.com". www.CBS.com. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
- "The Good Wife Cast: Julianna Margulies". www.CBS.com. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
- "Julianna Margulies". www.emmys.com. Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
- Robinson, Joanna (May 8, 2016). "Why The Good Wife Creators Think That Finale Was a Tragedy". Vanity Fair. Retrieved November 26, 2017.
- Owen, Rob (September 22, 2009). "Verdict: 'Good Wife' best new drama bet of fall season". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
- Fienberg, Daniel (May 5, 2016). "Critic's Notebook: 'The Good Wife' Leaves Behind an Imperfect, Admirable Legacy". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 10, 2016.