Fans of The Good Wife can officially breathe easy. Ever since the acclaimed CBS drama killed off its male lead, Will Gardner (Josh Charles), six months ago in a shocking twist absolutely no one saw coming, the show's loyal following — aka #TheGoodWifeSupportGroup — have had to sleep with one eye open, fearful that in this post-Will Gardner world, nothing and no one is safe.
"The show can't keep killing people," co-creator and executive producer Robert King tells TVGuide.com about Good Wife not necessarily trying to top itself in Season 6. "One of the reasons the show got more acclaim sometimes was because of the surprises. Even though you want to be able to surprise the audience, I do think that's a very low bar in many ways for a TV show. [It's] much better to not just be 'Oh my God' moments, but to tell stories in an interesting way. So the pressure was only in just trying to shake up the system a bit because I do think one of the successes of the fifth season was we didn't go to sleep."
That's an understatement of epic proportions since last season also saw Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and Cary (Matt Czuchry) leave Lockhart/Garder to start their own rival firm. So will The Good Wife be able to keep up the momentum when it returns on Sunday (9:30 p.m. ET / 9 p.m. PT, CBS)?
Although co-creator and executive producer Michelle King says, "I feel like I go into every season feeling like, 'OK, we do have to do the very best we can do,' so it didn't change from one season to the next," Robert is reveling in one big change: the post-Season 5 increase in creative freedom. "This season has been more fun because CBS seems to be so behind it. I think they were thrilled with the creative direction and so we have had even more carte blanche than usual," he says. "It's been very nice to have this sense of 'Woo, we can do what we want.' ... So you know if it's a bad season, it's our fault."
That proposition seems highly unlikely. Season 6 will pick up with another big move following Diane's (Christine Baranski) decision to jump ship from the increasingly hostile waters at Lockhart/Gardner to Florrick/Agos. "She's dead-set about not doing it the way Alicia did, which is burning a lot of bridges on the way," Robert says. "The other thing is how do you leave a firm and actually take your clients with you? Because if your partners where you're leaving know that you're leaving to go to another firm, they will become active to try and seduce your clients back to Lockhart/Gardner. The bottom line is Diane is in a sticky situation."
Much like Alicia and Cary's road to independence, Diane's will be filled with bumps along the way. "Clearly, she has starry-eyed views of what a start-up would be like. It's not going to be exactly what she hoped for as you see with Taye Diggs coming into our story in the second episode," Robert says. "He's someone who was in the New York office of Lockhart/Gardner and now he comes back to Chicago and he and Diane really like each other, are very similar in many ways."
The same cannot be said for Diane's relationship with Cary, which has been tense ever since Cary left Lockhart/Gardner (the second time). "Diane has been not the friendliest person to Cary in many ways and thinks sometimes that he's a lightweight," Robert says. "She has great respect for Alicia and so there is tension there of how do you make this work when you go into a situation where Cary helped create this firm and Diane doesn't really want Cary to be as much a part of the package?"
However, it remains to be seen whether Alicia will even remain a part of the Florrick/Agos package. In the final moments of Season 5, Eli (Alan Cumming) had an epiphany and asked if Alicia would ever consider running for State's Attorney. "It's very much Alicia's Hamlet," Robert says. "She's adamant this is the last thing in the world [she] would do but there might be circumstances that push her more to question whether she would change her mind on this."
As she considers throwing her hat in the ring, her marriage to Peter (Chris Noth) may prove advantageous despite the end of their romantic relationship last season. "She starts to recognize that there is a give and take, that it's not just about love, but it's also about how to be useful for each other," Michelle says. "I think you're going to see that moving forward, her using that knowledge in her professional life."
But, if she does run, will Alicia resort to some of Peter's less-than-ethical moves to get what she wants? "One of the major questions of the show this year is the question Alicia asks: Do methods taint results?" Robert says. "[If] you have bad ethics to campaign, does that impact the fact of how you actually rule?"
The Good Wife returns Sunday at 9:30 p.m. ET / 9 p.m. PT on CBS. Watch Julianna Margulies' Watchlist below:
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