3 Reasons Archie Panjabi’s Unforgettable Kalinda Sharma Deserves a Great Send Off

Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma on The Good Wife

Archie Panjabi sounds ready to hang it up in this tweet.

If I were Archie Panjabi, I’d have mixed emotions about leaving The Good Wife. Archie’s had a landmark role on a great show. Her character Kalinda Sharma on The Good Wife was a cultural pioneer in many ways. Yet Archie Panjabi is making news because she’s leaving The Good Wife before its run is finished.

Lately Kalinda has been stuck away in a minor plot line where she plays a terrified baby sitter for Lamond Bishop (Mike Colter). If she’s left in this powerless spot, she will just fade away. Kalinda can’t just fade away.

Here are my 3 top reasons why she deserves a great send off when she leaves the show at the end of season 6.

1. Kalinda brings the diversity

Kalinda in her leather jacket

Before everyone was trying to score diversity points by having a woman of color in their cast, Archie Panjabi was bringing diversity to The Good Wife. This award winning actress wasn’t stereotyped as some ridiculous ethnic character, she was the investigator for a law firm, a multi-layered, complex woman.

Before Shonda Rhimes had 3 shows, before Orange is the New Black brought a rainbow of characters into stardom, Kalinda was there.

2. Kalinda is bisexual

Kalinda looks at the camera

Kalinda was one of very few bisexual characters on TV for a time, and it was no big deal. It was simply Kalinda. She broke ground for other bi characters to follow.

3. Kalinda is THE MOST BADASS

Kalinda and Alicia have a drink

In a cast full of amazing women including her bosses, one of whom was Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), Kalinda takes the badass prize every time.

Diane and Kalinda in an office

Kalinda can out-badass her other badass boss, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski).

Kalinda can find any answer, solve any problem, crack any case in the service of her lawyer bosses. She is brilliant at badass.

And then there’s her badass wardrobe. The leather, the boots. Kalinda Sharma in leather is the iconic badass look. Before Bo (Anna Silk) took leather to sexy heights in Lost Girl, there was Kalinda looking professionally dangerous in leather. Kalinda could stand beside Alicia or Diane in their couture suits and dresses and look like she belonged in an office. She belonged in the office, but she was different: sexier, more dangerous, mysterious. Archie Panjabi owned that leather with her posture, her attitude, her dark-eyed stare.

The Send Off

Creators Michelle King and Robert King have written brilliantly on The Good Wife with an array of complicated characters and pointed plots. I’m hoping they’ve figured out a fantastic way for us to say goodbye to Kalinda – a way that makes us happy she’s leaving and lets the cast give her a lot of love along the way. I hope she has a show or two to take the lead, drive the plot, and finally take her leave for a logical reason.

Lately the names Mulder and Scully have been in the news. Nobody has to explain those names. Everyone knows them. We know who Buffy Summers is. We know who Bette Porter is. We know who Thelma and Louise are. Through some magic of writing and casting, some characters become icons. Archie Panjabi created Kalinda Sharma with such power that she’s reached iconic. Kalinda Sharma is loved by many, and valued by many as a symbol. Kalinda Sharma will not be forgotten.

Many thanks to Michelle and Robert King for writing her to be the badass we love, and many millions of thanks to Archie Panjabi for bringing her to life as an unforgettable character.

She will be missed.

3 thoughts on “3 Reasons Archie Panjabi’s Unforgettable Kalinda Sharma Deserves a Great Send Off”

  1. This comment was emailed to me, because the comment submit button has vanished with the new WordPress upgrade. The comment is from Dan Yahraes.

    Loved your piece here!

    I have a Archie Panjabi story. Not much of one but I’ll share.

    Herself and Matt Czuchry were hanging out at this trendy hotel/night life spot I work at in NYC. I can’t remember what the party event was about but they were there. They were rather inconspicuous. Nobody recognized them.

    I first saw Panjabi from about twenty feet away and our eyes met. “Oh dear!” I thought. She actually did the ‘comb the hair behind the ear’ thing that females do when they get a little coy.

    I realized she had no indicator that I was a waiter. But who am I fooling!

    Anyway, I took care of her and Matt all night. Matt was so cool and upbeat. Miss Panjabi seemed she had a lot on her mind.

    I officially know when ogling a famous person becomes weird, I see famous people all the time and often try to avoid them because the energy around them becomes weird.

    The Good Wife, for me, was my foray to getting back into watching television. There was such a long block of crappy reality tv, I just ignored so much of what was on.

    I even wanted to ignore The Good Wife, because I initially hated the title which I thought mirrored all those trashy “Real Housewives” shows – where “wives” are now the new commodity of all that is deliberately disgusting. My inner feminist protested.

    But, I ended up watching a weekend marathon while aimlessly flipping stations one day.

    I so agree with all your great points and I think it’s great Miss Panjabi gave her stamp of approval.

    If you google, just simply the name “Kalinda”, images of Archie Panjabi come to the forefront. It’s a testament in the internet ether that character has made her mark in television history.

    My fondness reflects not only the great acting and sublime writing of the Kings, but it’s all the ingredients that are handled with such confidence and ease.

    I have a litany of Bengali and Indian friends (more so Bengali). One in particular is female. When I hear her speak about her culture, I’m often rattled at all of the difficulties of just being a woman in Indian culture. The pressures to marry. How career is actually not supported by so many in her family. How sexuality is completely taboo.

    I know so many Indian men who are closeted. The idea of acting on their homosexual longings is so engulfed in societal pressures and cultural stigmas.

    Growing up gay in America, even if there are problems within that, I realize I’ve had so many fortunes of acceptance.

    So even if the Kalinda Sharma character is this sort of Xena Warrior Princess fantasy of a woman, she’s portrayed as being grounded in the tangible.

    Even if there’s an implication of an “exotic” beauty, I lean more towards the film noir femme fatale… whose beauty plays second to her cunning mind and boundless intelligence. A bravado which makes the most arrogant of men unhinged and inept.

    So, I wish the best for Miss Panjabi. Though the character of Kalinda Sharma may have been constructed from ink, good leather and fantasy, she filled a void in our un-inhabitable world of conservative constructs and generational burdens.

    Thank you for your piece. May Kalinda kick ass somewhere where somebody needs a champion.

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