EXCLUSIVE: 'Good Wife' Creators Defend 'Controversial' Series Finale, Explain Why Doing a Spinoff Was a 'No-Br
By Philiana Ng
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One month after the curtains closed on The Good Wife, creators Robert and Michelle King are coming to grips with the reaction some viewers had to the series finale.
“It was mixed. It was polarizing,” Robert King told ET on Monday during a press junket in New York City for their CBS summer series, BrainDead. “I think my mother probably didn’t like it. My brothers and sisters kind of did like it. I think that was representative of some people.”
“We wanted it to be a bit controversial,” he continued. “We didn’t think it would be as controversial as it was.”
In the final scene, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) is seen running down a hallway after she believes she sees Jason Crouse (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), only to discover it isn’t. Instead, she finds Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), who slaps her across the face as retribution for turning her husband in.
“I think we knew [it would spawn conversation], for the most part,” Michelle King said of the reaction that followed the May 8 episode. “You know when you’re not going for a straight, down-the-middle happy ending that there are going to be people who have strong points of view about it.”
Immediately following the episode, the Kings even posted a video message explaining their thought process behind the open-ended resolution.
“This show is about a woman who becomes more and more confident and more and more cunning and excited about her ability and also about power,” Robert said at the time, adding, “We always had this idea of Alicia becoming more and more of something that she had also was not liking in her husband.”
Good Wife fans will have a new show to look forward to soon, with CBS’ digital On Demand and live-streaming service, CBS All Access, premiering a Christine Baranski/Cush Jumbo spinoff in spring 2017. The opportunity to expand the Good Wife universe was impossible for the Kings to pass up.
“[Diane Lockhart] was one of those characters, other than Will Gardner, that really seemed to pull audiences in,” Robert said. “There’s a certain solidity to her and a certain sense that she commands a room , but also there’s a sensitivity beneath it. So it was a no-brainer to bring her onto the spinoff.”
In fact, so dialed were the creators to the idea of a Diane Lockhart-led spinoff, that they approached Baranski before The Good Wife finished filming its final season and talks became serious.
“We didn’t know if [CBS chairman, president and CEO] Les Moonves or [CBS Television Studios president] David Stapf would agree to it yet but we just wanted to hold on to her because she would have people knocking down her door to get her,” Robert said. “What we were excited by was she wanted to continue the character as much as she did.”
With Emmys right around the corner and this being the last year of eligibility for The Good Wife, the Kings hope they have something to celebrate come Sept. 18.
“It would mean a lot because … seven years meant a lot to us. But also, more importantly, network [drama] isn’t given the kind of respect that sometimes it deserves,” Robert said. “If you look at American Crime, what it’s doing, and what we felt Good Wife was doing, there is a lot of intelligent work being done on network. It’s just there’s so much of it that it would be lovely for that reason.”
BrainDead premieres Monday, June 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.