Down and Out in Denver


Posted in tv by Blake on April 14, 2010

Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma

I’ve posted about The Good Wife before but I am feeling the need to extoll its virtues once again, and particularly those of Archie Panjabi, who plays the character of Kalinda Sharma.  Kalinda is an investigator for the firm of Stern, Lockhart, and Gardner.  And she is, in a word, fantastic.  The writers have made her character multilayered, devious, conniving, intelligent, sexual, and saucy.  In short, she is not simply a bit player but has all the complexity of a (particularly interesting) real woman.  And as one of about five Indian women on American television in speaking roles (fewer?), that’s no small feat (Panjabi is British, though plays an American on this show).  That Panjabi manages to make the most of what the writers provide for her is, of course, all to her own credit.

Viewers may remember the episode when Kalinda was a witness and manipulated the judge into dismissing the testimony she did not want to be giving.  She did this by making not-so-very veiled hints about the judge’s own sexual proclivities (which included reenacting scenes from plantation life with African American prostitutes).  It was genius.  Last week’s episode featured another true gem.  Kalinda is at a college gym and wants access to a locker.  She’s dealing with a college kid or perhaps assistant coach who works there.

Kalinda:  You got the keys?

Coach Kid:  Don’t you need a warrant or something?

K:  Yeah, if I were a cop.  I can get bolt cutters in here but it’d be easier if you just opened it.

CK:  So you’re not a cop?

K:  No.

CK:  And you’re not with campus police?

K:  Unh uh.

CK:  So who are you?

K:  Kalinda

And he opens it!  Not only does the writing make fun of the way that we all, schooled in cop shows, think we know what to ask in such a situation, but it also points out that we wouldn’t know quite what to do when faced with answers like Kalinda’s.  And as preposterous as it sounds, you believe it. Or, at the very least, her performance is so good that you’re thrilled into wanting to believe it.  And that’s pretty much the same thing.


2 Responses

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  1. The Bittersweet Girl said, on April 15, 2010 at 5:44 am

    I LOVE Kalinda. I love The Good Wife — it is my favorite new show — but by far my favorite part of GW is Kalinda. The “I’m Kalinda” moment was awesome.

    She’s such an unusual and fascinating character, from her “mysterious past” to her wardrobe (notice how she is always dressed in jackets with pockets so she doesn’t have to carry an inconvenient purse?) … My only concern is the way they are playing out the “maybe Kalinda is a lesbian” storyline. I’d be thrilled if she was a lesbian (a kickass Indian lesbian investigator — get that girl her own show!) but I don’t like the suspense they are building up about it, as if Kalinda would be ashamed or closeted. Do you have an opinion about this?

    Gosh, Blake, I wish we could get together for some shopping, a cupcake truck run, and an episode of Good Wife. Wouldn’t that be fun?

    • Blake said, on April 15, 2010 at 10:30 am

      I’m so glad that someone else is watching and loves Kalinda as much as I do! I also agree: there is definitely the possibility of lesbianism there. But I’m sort of wary of them drawing it out as long as they have. Good point about the lack of purses and about someone perhaps thinking that she was closeted (though at a law firm; maybe necessary?). On the other hand if she’s just straight and picky (I LOVED that she turned Cary down), I’m OK with that as well.

      And agreed again: cupcakes, Good Wife, and shopping (in between various gripes about work): a very satisfying venture indeed!

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