The story line is timely and painfully similar to real life events as the wife of a politician is left to pick up the pieces after her husband's very public betrayal. Such is the tale of the CBS hit The Good Wife which airs every Tuesday at 9:00 CST. The show stars Julianna Marguiles as Alicia in the title role (you no doubt remember her from NBC's ER) and Chris Noth as her wandering husband and former State Attorney of Cook County turned jailed felon ("Mr. Big" from Sex and the City). Alicia is forced to pick up the pieces and go back to work as a junior litigator in a very political law firm.
Much of the drama's story line takes place in Alicia's Chicago apartment designed by production designer Stephen Hendrickson (Wall Street and Arthur) and set decorator Beth Kushnick (Reversal of Fortune and Fringe). Alicia's former world was a life in a North Shore suburb, now she returns to Chicago with her young teenage children in tow. As in real life, Alicia is forced to scale down and adapt her old life and furnishings (a.k.a. suburbia) to her new digs as she makes a new life for herself.
While much of the show takes place in the courtroom and on location and Kushnick explained that a great deal of the drama occurs with Alicia and her children at their apartment. "We strived to make it comfortable and layered with life," she says. "It has a feeling of family history with items collected over the years and handed down through the family."
Details are very important in set decoration as they can immediately shorthand a character and their life. Things that are never seen on the screen -- such as "a random earring, a chiropractor's business card, etc," can help the actress to stay in character. The design team went for a "renovated but traditional style of architecture" with a cooler color palette as opposed to blood red (as in blood sport which was a directive by the powers that be) for the law offices.
Daughter Grace's Bedroom
Alicia is one of the strongest female characters on television yet with a soft side and the set decoration certainly reflects that. Kushnick notes that the character went from a shared life with a king-size bed but has not devoted much attention to herself as an estranged parent. Very little of Noth's character in terms of photos or belongings are seen in the apartment.
Detail shot of Alicia's vanity and closet
Deep eggplant was chosen for the traditional dining room
with stainless steel, dark browns and turquoise accent colors
This is one show I do not miss (or at least Tivo!) Great writing, compelling stories, wonderful acting and terrific sets -- let's hope this show has a long run on CBS.
On another note, congratulations to fellow writer and blogger Emily Evans Eerdmans and Andrew McKeon on their recent nuptials. Emily wrote the book Regency Redux (Rizzoli) which is a must have for film fans, particularly those that love older films. She has a great chapter on the films of art directors Van Nest Polglase and Cedric Gibbons from the 30's and 40's and her namesake blog is must reading as well. Congrats Emily!!
Photo Credits: All photos by John Paul Filo/CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. Book photos courtesy of Rizzoli.