The Woman Who Gave Up Sex


Published in the New York Times Op-Ed

alicia will large

Spoiler alert: If you are a fan of “The Good Wife” and haven’t watched the last episode, please read something else.


Will Gardner died last Sunday. I was so upset I couldn’t sleep, took half a Valium at 3 a.m., overslept, took the wrong subway the next morning and ended up in Herald Square.

Will Gardner, Alicia Florrick’s former lover and adversary on the CBS series “The Good Wife,” got gunned down when his client went berserk in a courtroom. Now fans know that what they have been waiting for will never happen. Will and Alicia will never have sex again. Will and Alicia had the best chemistry on television. They were hot. In spite of cable TV’s breaking sexual taboos, it’s still rare to find characters with chemistry. For the last two seasons, however, Will and Alicia had sex only in flashback. And then briefly.

That only made me want it for them more.

For those of you who haven’t encountered this show, now in its fifth season, Alicia is a lawyer, the wife of a politician who slept with prostitutes, the mother of two teenagers. She is smart, cool (as in collected), beautiful but not in an intimidating or depressing way. Her hair does not have extensions. She is a normal-size person. You don’t look at her and think she hasn’t had a carb since 2002 or spends three hours a day at Bikram yoga. She is not bipolar like Carrie Mathison. She is not a pill addict like Nurse Jackie.

Nevertheless she has done some really stupid things.

Most important, she gave up sex with Will Gardner because she’s a mother. I can’t explain it any better than that. Apparently to the creators of the show, this made sense, that motherhood was incompatible with wild sex. If memory serves, it was Season 3, and she even threw out her black lace underwear. This upset me in the way that I get upset by stupid moves on favorite TV shows, as if a close friend had stabbed me. Alicia never dated anyone else afterward and no one has ever tried to fix her up. Instead, after giving up sex and Will, she went back to Mr. Big. Truthfully I so resent her husband that I simply think of him as someone who belongs to another show. Occasionally she has sex with him. I’m sure I speak for many viewers when I say I wish she didn’t.

Michelle and Robert King, the show’s creators, posted a note to fans, assuring us that Will Gardner may be dead, but Josh Charles, who plays him, “is very much alive and remains an integral part of our family.” Thank you. I may be obsessed with the show, but I do know the difference between a fictional character and a real person. Josh Charles wants to “move on to other creative endeavors,” they say. He wants to direct, for instance. Who doesn’t? I’m sure if my dog could speak, she would say she wants to direct.

Characters often die because actors want to move on. Personally I think it is extremely selfish of Josh Charles to move on. I don’t understand why he doesn’t care about me. About my lying propped up in bed every Sunday evening wanting to spend time with him, wishing that one day he and Alicia would get it on one more time. That she will finally get rid of her husband. That, as imperfect as they are, she and Will finally realize they belong together. Doesn’t he know that a great show isn’t just something you watch? There is ritual, expectations built up over years. Love.

Alicia, based on Silda Spitzer, the ex-wife of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, represents all the wronged political spouses, including, of course, Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin. After these women were publicly humiliated, Huma could keep herself busy with a job at the State Department and Hillary went on to be a United States senator. Ms. Spitzer became a principal at NewWorld Capital Group, a firm that invests in environmental initiatives. Like Alicia, they had great jobs. But did they have great sex? Great sex with men who haven’t wronged them? That’s a fantasy I want to buy into. That’s why I kept watching “The Good Wife.”

When Matthew Crawley’s car crashed on “Downton Abbey,” I didn’t care. He and Lady Mary together were as dry as toast. When they killed off Nicholas Brody on “Homeland,” I was glad, because he and Carrie had zero chemistry. Besides, that show had jumped the shark. “The Good Wife” has never jumped the shark. Even killing Will didn’t jump the shark. It only dashed my dreams and broke my heart.


published in the New York Times