The Good Wife creators/executive producers Robert and Michelle King love Kalinda Sharma as much as fans do. Last season we saw the bisexual private investigator (played by Archie Panjabi) struggle to regain power in a relationship from her estranged husband, and viewers were not thrilled about the storyline. During a panel at TCA yesterday, Robert admitted it just didn’t work.
“Look, I kind of take it as a personal failing because it was something I grabbed at,” Robert said. “And then I looked back on it and said, “OK, my problem there was I went after theme and not character.” And I think that’s the kind of line I stuck to, which is you have to always follow the characters. I mean, yes, you’re making them up as you go along, but there’s also something in the character that drives you one way or the other. And I thought it was an interesting theme, how it would kind of parallel Alicia’s relationship with Peter but on a more Kalindaish operatic plane. And, you know, there’s so many mistakes there I can see now. But at the time, it felt right. What I love, to return to theme, is a Kalinda who is losing her connections to other people. That, I think, is just interesting, that the more deeply she goes into her personality, the more she feels fractured off from other people and love.”
When the show returns for a fifth season on September 29 on CBS, Kalinda will be dealing with her friends and co-workers leaving Lockhart & Gardner to start their own law firm, and she feels slighted. Both Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry) and Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) are people she trusted, and now Kalinda is caught in the middle.
“It’s a hard one,” Robert said. “It’s a real tough one, because she really feels betrayed by people who are important to her who are leaving the firm to start their own firm, and she didn’t know Alicia was going with them. So it’s frustrating for her. She loves Will – I mean loves, as a buddy. [She's] very dedicated to Diane, even more so. But what she does is she starts up this relationship with Cary that both of them are wondering if its being used or truly romantic.”
Kalinda’s relationship with Cary has bordered on sexual but never fully developed into a relationship. Instead Kalinda has had a few female lovers in FBI agent Lana Delaney (Jill Flint), married ex-coworker Sophia Russo (Kelli Giddish) and an old flame played by Lili Taylor. This season, however, she’s getting a new relationship in Holly, played by Juliet Rylance.
“There’s a real—I don’t want to say she out-Kalindas Kalinda, but there’s a really party girl outgoing aspect to her and she’s got a really passionate side and she tries to pull that out of Kalinda,” Robert said. “She also feels like Kalinda is closeted and she really should announce herself, that it’s wrong for her to be so withdrawn about her sexuality. And with Kalinda it’s not a political thing. She’s not closeted, she’s really private. There’s this real disconnect between the two of them.”
The disconnect was inspired by gay author Bret Easton Ellis‘s essay last May in OUT that was about his distaste for GLAAD and how gay people are treated in the media; how he is gay, so he is inherently interested in gay rights, but doesn’t feel like he has to champion everything gay because of it.
“It’s kind of based on this person who doesn’t want to make their romantic life a political point, but that’s just who they are, that’s who they are attracted to, so that’s a real distinction between Holly and Kalinda,” Robert said.
Robert King, Julianna Margulies and Michelle King
But it doesn’t mean that Kalinda and Cary will never happen. Kalinda is fiercely bisexual and she has not been able to commit to anyone other than herself.
“You want to keep both sides of Kalinda open but you also kind of want to see—she’s touched on both sides of her personality by different sexes,” Robert said. “It’s not something that’s an either or—she really is someone who finds her best self in both sexes.”
The Good Wife airs Sunday nights on CBS beginning September 29.