When “Good” TV mirrors real life

The Good wife

As a media buyer, I’m  acutely aware that most of us multi-task while watching television.  Back in the day, that meant maybe folding your laundry or writing out a grocery shopping list.  Today that means having your iPhone, iPad, laptop or other device keeping you company while watching your favorite shows.  And that was no more apparent than on Sunday night.

The Good Wife sent social media on fire after their main male character and original cast member was shockingly killed off.  Fans were angry at the show for killing off Will Gardner before learning that it was actor Josh Charles’ decision and that it was in the plans for the past 12 months.  Incredible in this day and age that the secret was kept all this time!

Now for the PR side of things. The outcry on Facebook and Twitter was intense.  People were saying they’d never watch the show again and pledged their loyalty to Charles.  And although I think they were surprised at the immediate anger, the team behind The Good Wife did an excellent job of responding to their fans’ concerns.

The show’s producers, Robert and Michelle King, had advance interviews with Charles in the can both in print, online and via video to help get the word out that it was Charles’ decision.  Charles was also on the Late Show with Dave Letterman on Monday night.

The Kings themselves also posted the following letter on Facebook after the West Coast airing.

They did an excellent job in explaining the decision to kill off Will. It was extremely well written and I immediately wondered if it was because of the outcry on social media that went beyond viral at 10 p.m.   Either way, it brought up a very valid industry point.

Finally, we chose the tragic route for Will’s send-off for personal reasons. We’ve all experienced the sudden death of a loved one in our lives. It’s terrifying how a perfectly normal and sunny day can suddenly explode with tragedy. Television, in our opinion, doesn’t deal with this enough: the irredeemability of death. Your last time with the loved one will always remain your last time. The Good Wife is a show about human behavior and emotion, and death, as sad and unfair as it can be, is a part of the human experience that we want to share.

Indeed, we are all blessed with the joy of lots of sunny, happy days.  And yes, we can be shocked at the quickness and sadness of death.  I experienced that personally with the loss of my sister three weeks ago. The Kings’ philosophy on their role in the industry demonstrates all that can be good about TV.  With or without your iPad nearby!