Panjabi departure loss for TV

Noah Cannon

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Panjabi won an Emmy for the first season of “The Good Wife,” playing a mysterious in-house investigator for an upscale Chicago law firm. Kalinda was secretive, gutsy, dangerous and brilliant – sort of a Lisbeth Salander type but with more heeled boots. Her friendship with Julianna Margulies’ eponymous good wife character was the warmest, funniest part of the show. She was also a queer woman of color on prime time, a medium that rarely portrays characters with intersectional identities. Audiences were immediately captivated by Kalinda, a character so unlike anyone else 
on television.

Then something weird happened. As the show progressed into its third and fourth seasons, “Kalinda malaise” seemed to be occurring in the writers’ room. These years saw a string of subplots for Kalinda involving one of two archetypal characters: aggressive men determined to expose Kalinda’s past/sleep with her and women in law enforcement determined to use Kalinda to get to her employers/sleep with her.

These characters repeated themselves for years, never revealing anything of depth about Kalinda but instead causing her to tread water and gradually fade into the background of the show. The departure of her friend and confidant Will (Josh Charles) last season makes Kalinda feel more vestigial than ever. Add to the mix rumors of on-set conflict between Panjabi and Margulies, and you have an uncomfortable situation for a breakout fan favorite.

I will miss Archie Panjabi–her deadpan delivery, comedic instincts and tense physicality. I will also miss her bizarre transatlantic accent and her ability to rock a leather jacket in any color. I wish her the best with her pilot for 20th Century Fox. I hope she leads a show worthy of 
her talents.

I also offer this prayer for Kalinda Sharma: that her final season on “The Good Wife” be one in which she and her arc are respected and given the same credence as any other character’s – that the writers will acknowledge the existence of bisexuality and be unafraid to use specific language to talk about Kalinda’s identities instead of letting her drown in ambiguity, that Kalinda will date someone who isn’t a violent white man from her past or a conniving white lady in law enforcement (Cary, she should date Cary) and that she will leave with dignity and go on to greener pastures.

Godspeed, Kalinda. Don’t mess this up, “Good Wife” writers.