Creative Minds: Robert and Michelle King run ‘The Good Wife’

Creative Minds: Robert and Michelle King run ‘The Good Wife’
Robert King and wife Michelle created and produce the series “The Good Wife.”
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Robert and Michelle King are the husband-and-wife creators of “The Good Wife.” As the CBS legal drama embarks on its fourth season Sunday, the Kings took a break from editing Episode 3 of the new cycle — repeated attempts for spoilers were rebuffed — to tease the upcoming season, talk social media and offer their thoughts on the art of working in guest stars.

How soon after the season finale do we pick up?

Robert: We’re going to start this season like 10 seconds after the last season ended. You will see what happens with Kalinda (Archie Panjabi). We’ll meet Kalinda’s husband this season — he’s played by British actor Marc Warren. That relationship will be causing a lot of problems for Kalinda, both in the short term and also in the long term.

Can we talk about another relationship — that of you as husband-and-wife show runners. Talk about being spouses and the challenges of running a show together.


Michelle: We try to be gentle. I’ve got to tell you, for me, it seems far more challenging to be a show runner who doesn’t work with their spouse. I honestly don’t how they manage their lives. We’ve got divide and conquer on our side. Obviously there is plenty to do, both with show-running and with life-running, so at least there’s a sense of we can do both.

Robert: The unfortunate angle of it is we have a 13-year-old daughter and that creates difficulty because you both want to be at dinner and only one can go and the other is stuck working.

Has she weighed in and offered suggestions for the show?

Robert: She makes a lot of suggestions regarding music, and strangely enough, she’s really good at it. She’ll suggest some song, it won’t quite work out sometimes, but we’ll have a band recompose it or write something similar. The second season, the Beast song, “Mr. Hurricane,” was her suggestion. What we’ve been doing now is sending her — this is actually embarrassing — but we’ve been sending her YouTube clips of scenes with whatever song that we don’t think is perfect and she’ll send back some kind of Spotify list from school.


The way “The Good Wife” incorporates technology and social media is impressive. Talk about making that work and the challenges of doing it in a way that makes sense.

Robert: That’s our obsession. We just think the world is being remade from the ground up. In some ways, that’s excellent. If you look at what happened with the “Arab Spring” or some solitary countries, it’s very hard to escape the democratic ability that social media offers. On the other hand, I drive around Los Angeles and there are no bookstores left — and that part of social media is just this real curse. So it just feels like the only way to do something, make something overly familiar like a law show, is to dive into an area that has been explored sort of superficially. We’ve all seen crime shows with the protagonists go on Google and go, “Oh, here’s the clue!” The thing that more interests us — as we’ll explore this year — is how the industry of Silicon Valley is seen as cool and that allows more users to accept more invasion of privacy than they would of any other industry.

The show has had some great guest stars over its run — including Michael J. Fox and Matthew Perry. Talk about spotlighting these people in a way that isn’t distracting.

Robert: I think only three or four times have we started with “Oh, that’s a really good actor and he wants to have a part on the show, so let’s write something for him.” Usually it starts with, “If you’re going to spend that much time in court, that judge or that lawyer better be kind of fun.” What you try to do is not have it be like an old “I Love Lucy” show where people see Harpo Marx and they all applaud.

Michelle: We’re also the beneficiaries of Julianna [Margulies] and [executive producer] Brooke Kennedy and the cast, who have created such a warm and welcoming show that folks want to come in and then want to come back.


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