The Good Wife’s Cardinal Achievement

“Machiavelli’s cardinal achievement is his uncovering of an insoluble dilemma, the planting of a permanent question mark in the path of posterity. It stems from his de facto recognition that ends equally ultimate, equally sacred, may contradict each other, that entire systems of value may come into collision without possibility of rational arbitration, and that not merely in exceptional circumstances, as a result of abnormality or accident or error . . . but . . . as part of the normal human situation.”—Isaiah Berlin, “The Originality of Machiavelli”

Fullscreen capture 2015-10-009Many nice things can be said about The Good Wife—all of them true—but what makes it stand out, what makes it so enthralling, so memorable, so special, is its morally complicated meditation on the meaning of good and evil in 21st-century America. The Good Wife is a painfully accurate depiction of the uneasy relationship between public life and private life; an unsettling exploration of the differences—and inherent conflicts—between private virtue and political virtue; and a shockingly honest portrayal of political life and the American legal system, which takes us far beyond the wishful thinking of Law and Order, the virtue ethics of NCIS, the moral exhibitionism of House, the realism of The Wire, and the cynicism of House of Cards. Machiavelli would love this show.

—John Faithful Hamer, The Goldfish (2016)

About John Faithful Hamer

John Faithful Hamer is a college professor who still can't swim, drive, or pay his bills on time. His sense of direction is notoriously unreliable, yet he'd love to tell you where to go. His lack of practical skills is astounding, and his inability to fix things is renowned, yet he'd love to tell you what to do. His mismanagement of time is legendary, as is his inability to remember appointments, yet he fancies himself a philosopher and would love to tell you how to live. He wouldn't survive in a state of nature, of that we can be sure; but he's doing quite well in the big city, which has always been a refuge for the ridiculous, a haven for the helpless, and a friend to the frivolous.

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