There's no messing with The Good Wife, not in a courtroom, not on the campaign trail, and certainly not in the heads of critics. The show drew rave reviews, and when it debuted, The New York Times wrote, "The Good Wife takes its cue from real life, not just the headlines, and is all the better for it."
Fans of The Good Wife know that the show didn't just keep it real when it came to writing realistic characters. They also pulled in actual political players from Washington, D.C. and other major U.S. cities for cameos and guest appearances. This includes former and current NYC mayors Michael Bloomberg and Bill De Blasio, activists like Gloria Steinem, senior adviser to Barack Obama Valerie Jarrett, and on more than one occasion, political stragetist Donna Brazile.
For those in the audience who recognized these figures, the weight they gave to scenes was measurable, but in one capsule review in The New York Times arts blog, TV critic Mike Hale pointed to these appearances with a shrug. He wrote, "These cameos would make sense if Michelle and Robert King, the show’s creators, were lobbying for some kind of federal production tax credit. And they probably succeed as fan service for a liberal audience of a certain age. But ... The shock of recognition isn’t worth it."
It was one man's opinion, but Donna Brazile wasn't about to leave it unchallenged. She, too, took to The New York Times to respond, and the very same critic published her fiery defense.
She begins with an immediate clap back:
"I’ve appeared three times on The Good Wife. I’m proud of being associated with the show. Time magazine called it 'the best thing on TV outside cable.' Did I mention that I also appear on cable?"
Then she poked fun at the critic's objections:
"Mr. Hale also said that the cameos 'probably succeed as fan service for a liberal audience of a certain age.' Ouch! Great, I thought I was adding a touch of realism to the show, but I was just being used to appeal to the all-important 'blue state over 56' demographic."
But beyond the debate, she also offered this compelling rationale for why political figures make good actors, and vice versa.
"I think people involved in politics make good actors. Acting and politics both involve fooling people. People like being fooled by actors. When you get right down to it, they probably like being fooled by politicians even more. A skillful actor will make you think, but a skillful politician will make you never have to think."
The clincher, of course, came at the end:
"I know Mr. Hale doesn’t like seeing politicians on these shows. But if we don’t allow politicians to be actors, then we would have to prevent actors from becoming politicians, and there go most of the Republican governors of California."
In her scenes on The Good Wife, Brazile does not just add presence, but warmth and personality. Her poise carries over, and her convincing chemistry with critically-acclaimed actor Chris Noth is evident just from the photo above. So, raise your hand if you want to see even more of Donna Brazile on TV now?
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