Nov. 24 2014 06:32 PM

Taylor Swift and ‘The Good Wife’: just two of my guilty pleasures


 “So it’s gonna be forever / Or it’s gonna go down in flames / You can tell me when it’s over / If the high was worth the pain / Got a long list of ex-lovers / They’ll tell you I’m insane / Cause you know I love the players / And you. Love. The. Game.” 

—Taylor Swift

Here’s the stone-cold truth: I’m into some superficial entertainment right now. Various news items engulf me like an avalanche: President Obama finding his immigration balls a month too late; frat boys across the country getting away with rape, ho hum; a famous icon getting away with rapes, plural, ho diddly hum; and le piece de résistance, the state of emergency in Missouri (i.e. declaration of war) in advance of a predictable verdict in the Michael Brown murder. I feel like I’m in a perpetual state of bracing for a cellular-level, no-antidote, helpless type of pain. It all makes me a bit afraid for the future. 

And so! As I type this, I am admiring my newly manicured fingers move like red glittery lighting over my keyboard and enjoying Taylor Swift’s new album, 1989

But don’t worry: I’m only listening until near the end when she starts talking about how she writes her own lyrics, at which point I have to shut it off, because a) I don’t care about her process in the same way you probably don’t care about mine and b) her talking voice is, like, so, like, annoying? Anyway, good for her for not hiring songwriters like most of her contemporaries. I mean—and here comes the understatement to end all understatements—the girl is no Gil Scott Heron. But while the revolution won’t be televised, Swift’s hit song “Shake it Off” is a big, giant “Fuck You!” to the assholes of the world, and I can’t help but cheer for that.

My indulgence in guilty pleasures makes me feel good when I’m feeling low and is my current mechanism of self-preservation. It’s like exercise, only without all the exercise. It’s flat-lining without dying. It’s a healthy alternative to guzzling wine from the bottle or eating the entire weed-infused Tootsie Roll thing in one sitting. Not that I eat weed-infused Tootsie Roll things. I don’t like weed-infused Tootsie Roll things. Much.

Anyway, I have some anxiety these days (don’t even get me started on the disaster that is the public-school system), and alleviating it has culminated in very late night after very late night followed by more of the same, with my ass sculpting a wide groove into the couch as my husband and I binge-watch The Good Wife

Now, I’m a little bit of a television snob and am pretty picky about what I watch. I once maintained that television should have been fired and immediately escorted out of the building by security after the finales of Six Feet Under and The Wire. I took it as a personal affront to all things decent when Deadwood was canceled after three incredible seasons. I went ahead and canceled cable television, and the world is in a perfect place. 

And yet, all of that being said, I’m willing to let my kid eat ice cream for dinner and have her own binge-fest of My Little Pony so that I can watch just one more episode of Alicia Florrick being the perpetual courtroom hero in beautifully tailored pantsuits. The Good Wife is terribly cheesy and more formulaic than Fifty Shades of This is What America is Reading? But I’m completely hooked. Maybe it’s a middle-age thing, I don’t know. I wonder sometimes when I see the bags under my eyes from the previous night’s marathon: Is this my Columbo? How much time do I have left before I’m ordering cottage cheese, canned peaches and a cup of lukewarm coffee for lunch at D.Z. Akins? Can I be that far from just saying screw it, and instead of avoiding dimly lit restaurants, I up and buy seven pairs of readers but never again purchase another ticket to a live concert because there’s no place to sit down? 

Sort of makes me afraid for my future.

But not really: That the three main women characters in The Good Wife are of a certain age is nothing to sniff at. And I’m pretty sure Alicia Florrick is going to evolve (and probably get reading glasses), meaning there is hope for me. And I’m definitely—definitely—a better mother than she is. I love to watch her suck at parenting.

My husband and I editorialize our way through each episode in a manner that, to throw all humility out the window, would make Mystery Science Theater 3000 want to offer us a six-figure contract. Meanwhile, all the glamour of being a lawyer makes me want to submit my application to Thomas Jefferson School of Law. It turns out, lawyering is jam-packed with intrigue, smarts and angst-filled glances through offices with walls made of glass. There’s sexual tension in every damned corner. There’s lots of paper shuffling, file folding and sport-coat-jacket buttoning. There’s fast-paced conversation while walking to the elevator, to the car, to the conference room. And did you know? Lawyers are just like us! They get phone calls about emergency filings, and have to pack an overnight bag since they’ll be spending the weekend at work.

Bottom line: The Good Wife, like Taylor Swift’s bubble-gum pop, is escapism. And I’m with the masses in enjoying both.

Email Aaryn Belfer. Aaryn blogs at and you can follow her on Twitter @aarynb.