Female friendships are few and far between on television. And good female friendships are even harder to find. So when BuzzFeed brought up the point that The Good Wife‘s Alicia and Kalinda haven’t appeared in the same room together in more than 30 episodes (that is, a season and a half), I immediately felt as if the show were doing a injustice to women—and specifically, to the friendship that these two characters had formed.
But upon further thought, I realized that just the opposite was happening.
Alicia and Kalinda aren’t like most female friends on TV. Unlike the girls of The Big Bang Theory or just about any pairing on Glee, they don’t become fast friends because they need to gossip. At first, they barely speak about anything unrelated to a case. Their friendship is a slow burn: It starts as Kalinda offering Alicia a ceremonial drink after her first court case and evolves into drinks on a semi-regular basis, but it only ever gets personal after the two have spent hours and hours trying to get a read on each other. And even then, it’s never sappy or sentimental. These are two women who each need someone in their life who isn’t a liar, trying to sleep with them, or trying to ruin their careers. And it helps that they actually, you know, like each other.
So why isn’t it a travesty that such great friends haven’t been in the same room for a season and a half? Because it’s actually a testament to how strong they are as individual characters. The Good Wife has ensured that each character’s identity is not tied up in the other person. Both Alicia and Kalinda have compelling narratives on their own. They’re smart, and they’re funny, and viewers are invested in their individual stories. There’s more to them than the fact that they’re friends, and there always has been. Alicia has always been a mom first, and some of her richest stories come from balancing her family life while reestablishing her career. Not to mention that Kalinda’s relationship with Will and her original decision to quit her job have no overlap with Alicia. Even in the seasons they are together, most of their best storylines only sort of intersect, and usually only where work is involved.
Yes, watching Kalinda and Alicia’s falling-out in season two after Alicia’s discovery that Kalinda slept with Peter was difficult for fans of their friendship. But it was something most fans knew wouldn’t last forever. Now that time has passed, though, and Alicia has gotten over that event, why aren’t they back together? Why didn’t they hug and cry on each others’ shoulders when Will died?
Because it wasn’t necessary. Female friendships come in all forms, and there is no rule that says they need to involve late-night bottles of wine and girl talk.
Which brings me to another reason it’s perfectly all right for Kalinda and Alicia to have taken a break: They’re not the only strong female friendship on the show. Whether Diane and Alicia are having drinks after Will’s funeral or Diane and Kalinda are talking strategy, The Good Wife is full of dynamic female characters forming adult friendships, almost all of which extend beyond the typical “girl talk” that often stands in as shorthand for female friendship on TV.
And at this point in the show, these are two characters who are too damn busy to worry about getting together for a drink. In the wake of Will’s death, Alicia’s firm has been busier than ever, and Kalinda’s had to work that much harder to help Diane. To that point, they each understand the importance of what the other is doing, and they’re not about to get in the way of the other’s professional life to have a quick chat face-to-face when a phone call will do the trick. To conveniently add in extra hours in the day for Kalinda and Alicia to hang out together would undermine the show’s notably thoughtful and human portrayal of successful, career-oriented women.
But perhaps most importantly, their separation has in no way affected the quality of the show. In fact, the only full season they spent apart was season five—which many consider to be the strongest to date.
So, as much fun as it is to watch Alicia and Kalinda interact face-to-face, the notion that Alicia and Kalinda needed to be in the same room to do their friendship justice was wrong. Essentially, I worried that that their friendship couldn’t stand on its own. But upon further reflection, the fact that viewers still consider them friends after all this time spent physically apart is a testament to the solidity of both The Good Wife‘s characters and this pairing.