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'The Good Wife' recap: One tweet over the line

November 17, 2010 |  9:24 am

Technology has always been the unstated enemy -- and occasional accomplice -- on “The Good Wife,” and on Tuesday night’s episode, this deeply ambivalent relationship was more obvious than ever. 

This week’s case centered on a teenage singer named Sloan Burchfield (Miranda Cosgrove). The permissive stage mother, the Evel Knievel-esque driving record and the Twitter addiction: It didn’t take a genius to know that "Sloan" was inspired by a certain freckled starlet.  Over the last five years or so, we’ve seen numerous young women -- Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears -- fall victim to the same cycle of precocious fame and relentless tabloid scrutiny followed by an extremely public downward spiral.  With Lohan in rehab and Hilton pushing 30, the tabloids are salivating at the possibility of a Miley Cyrus or Demi Lovato meltdown.  The fact that “teen superstar Miranda Cosgrove” -- of “iCarly” on the Disney Channel -- played the part of Sloan added a nice self-referential layer to the episode.  (Though, at the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, I confess I had no idea who “teen superstar Miranda Cosgrove” was until last night.)

What this installment of “The Good Wife” showed was his how these young women often contribute to their own disintegration. Desperate to “escape the Disney ghetto,” Sloan works hard to acquire a drinking habit, but her real addiction is to Twitter.  Despite herself, Sloan simply can’t refrain from posting gossipy comments, live from the courtroom.  Booze, coke: whatever.  It's the attention that she really needs. Again, the Lohan reference was hard to miss. Over the last few years, the actress-cum-legging-designer’s Twitter account has charted, almost in real time, her downfall (one of her tweets after an earlier rehab confessed,  “Regrettably, I did in fact fail my most recent drug test”).

This episode was less about any one starlet, though, than it was about the very idea of celebrity.  Alicia is frank with Sloan, telling her she’s achieved the “wrong kind of fame.”  Alicia knows all too well that not all celebrity is created equal, but unlike her young client, Alicia has mostly come to terms with her own accidental infamy.  When David says, “I think you might recognize her from her husband’s scandal last year,” Alicia barely bats an eyelash.  She and David both know that her fame makes her uniquely suited, and uniquely sympathetic, to Sloan.  The case unexpectedly brings Alicia closer to Grace, who’s in awe of her mother’s celebrity client -- and her mother, the celebrity. I especially liked the scene in which Grace facetiously calls her mother “Alicia,” but Alicia nips the impertinence in the bud. 

I had some minor quibbles with the scene in which Corey, a member of Sloan’s entourage, lies about her age and weight.  Alicia was trying to prove that she was an unreliable witness, and the show's writers were trying to show how, in Sloan’s bubble, being young and thin is more important than being honest. Both points were made with a heavy hand. 

But, overall, this was a return to form for "The Good Wife," full of smart commentary on the scandal-obsessed and social-media-plagued era in which we live. Some commenters on this blog have expressed frustration with the show’s increasingly implausible narrative turns this season -- especially the whole Blake-Kalinda rivalry -- and I too have been a little worried. Things seem back on track after this episode, even if I have no idea who or what an iCarly is. 

There were notable developments outside the courtroom too.  For a brief moment, it looked like Peter’s comeback campaign might be doomed.  The local democratic chair offered Peter “the Howard Dean deal”; that is, he can take over as local party chair if he agrees to drop out of the race. This was one of the knowing references that "The Good Wife" loves to toss around, though it was inaccurate.  Howard Dean dropped out of the 2004 presidential race because he was losing, and he actually had to wage another campaign to become DNC chair. But I digress. 

With Alicia’s backing, Peter refused to accept the deal. It was a risky bet, but it appeared to pay off when he (finally) secured the support of Pastor Isaiah.  For a moment there, it looked like Wendy Scott Carr might succeed in luring Eli away from the Florrick campaign, but he decided to stay put. Wendy -- and the rest of us -- were smart enough to know that Eli’s loyalty had more to do with the pastor’s endorsement than any sense of loyalty.  The defection would have created some serious drama, but the show needs Eli to act as the “bad angel” forever at Peter’s shoulder.             

But it looks like a defection of a different kind is in the works at Lockhart, Gardner & Bond. Peeved by the ongoing “bromance” between Derrick and Will, Diane has started to spend suspicious amounts of time with David, the head of the firm’s lucrative family law division. The preview for next week makes it clear that Diane and  David will start their own firm.  This strikes me as a tad premature.  Why doesn’t Diane just find out what the deal is between Will and Derrick, instead of rolling her eyes when they talk about the Bulls and looking away as they plot a coup right under her nose. Will, lured by Derrick's promises of "something that will change this firm ... a legal behemoth" appears to be a lost cause for Diane, but the real question is whom Alicia will choose. 

What we learned:  Alicia is a little standoffish, not that that's news.  Diane is eager to jump ship, and Derrick is just as eager to buy her out.

Further questions:  What does this mean for Alicia, not to mention Kalinda?

Real-life inspiration: The bizarre Taiwanese animations are a real thing.  See for yourself

-- Meredith Blake


Complete Show Tracker coverage of 'The Good Wife'

'The Good Wife' recap:  Kalinda comes out (sort of)

'The Good Wife' recap: 'I wish this had happened to somebody who cried a lot'

'The Good Wife' recap: Meet the family

'The Good Wife' recap: Strange bedfellows

Photo: Alicia (Julianna Margulies) defends an embattled teen star, Sloan Burchfield (Miranda Cosgrove). Credit: Craig Blankenhorn / CBS