This week, television audiences were stunned when Will Gardner, a main character in The Good Wife, was murdered. Gone, in an instant.
Typically, we get warnings about this kind of stuff. The actor is sick and needs to leave. The actor wants to pursue movies and needs to leave. The story shifts, there is talk about writing him out of the series, so he goes away. However, this time, just as the show welcomed us back for a new season, it immediately killed off a main character.
One minute he’s laughing at the bench, and the next he is randomly shot dead? That’s so not fair to us loyal viewers. We were counting on watching the relationship between Alicia and Will play out this year. We were wondering what he was going to do to impact the future of the firm. We were wondering if he would turn in Peter.
You see, we expect our television shows to entertain us, but all of them must follow a certain protocol. We like suspense and surprise, but we expect the heads up. You’re allowed to throw a wrench in the plot, but you can’t blow it up!
There was such a backlash from this twist that the producers felt compelled to write an open letter to explain their actions.
“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.”
Oh . . . now it makes total sense. This is reality TV. Not the superficial kind that fills the airwaves about housewives, makeovers or baking competitions. Although rooted in fiction, this was a true tragic experience, that is rarely, if ever, captured in television or cinema.
This was the TV version of my January 24, 2005. Hopefully, this will be the closest that any of you get to that experience. I am grateful to Robert and Michelle King for using this opportunity to remind us that “death, as sad and unfair as it can be, is a part of the human experience that we want to share.”