Written by Jessica Hanlon.
Summer television is well-known amongst most television execs as the place shows either go to burn off, die or light a flagging audience’s fire while their primetime heroes take a well-deserved break. Summer television however, can be just as addictive ““ if not more so ““ if you look in the right place. USA network drama Suits is one such addiction that has recently become my crack.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, Suits follows Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), a college-dropout, pothead genius with a photographic (literally!) memory who gets a second chance at chasing his Harvard dream when he is accidentally interviewed and is hired for an associate position working alongside the slick, successful, rebellious hot-shot lawyer Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht). The catch ““ Mike doesn’t have a law degree, meaning both he and Harvey have to lie to everyone they work with, including their boss Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres) and Mike’s potential will-she-won’t-she love interest Rachel Zane (Meaghan Markle).
So why haven’t you heard about it? Probably because it is on the USA network, meaning that critics are not giving it the props or viewership it deserves. Not airing on a “big” network means that the series won’t reach as big an audience. More than that, there isn’t enough people out there sharing the Suits love. So, if you haven’t already, here are five reasons you should check out Suits in time for the third midseason final, airing September 17.
1. It’s Smart
The writing is a cut above. Series creator Aaron Korsch and his writing staff create some of the wittiest and most fast paced dialogue you are likely to see on television. The writing time and again shows you why Harvey and Mike are hands down the smartest guys in the room at any given moment. The dialogue and interactions between characters is always interesting, engaging and razor-sharp, supported by cases that are well above the average weekly legal drama. The characters of Suits don’t always win, but even if they do, the writing is clear enough to show you how and why. There is a load of fun banter and bickering that leads to some great lines and catchphrases (Litt Up is both my personal favourite and a regular Twitter trend). Also, there are enough culture references to make even the most avid of TV/Movie lovers happy. Most importantly, the writing encourages the audience to be active by calling back to previous episodes, continuing story arcs and what were initially thought to be throwaway lines or plot points to make the story consistent and ongoing. It’s almost like the writers are telling you that you should keep up, and if the writer is trying to keep you on your toes, it means they are being kept on theirs.
2. It has a Stellar Cast
Whilst not all the names in the cast are recognisable, the chops they show here indicate that it won’t be long before they will be. More seasoned movie viewers might remember Gabriel Macht from his turn as The Spirit in the film of the same name, alongside Samuel Jackson and Gina Torres as Zoe in the short-lived Joss Whedon series Firefly. Both turn in superb performances here, with just the right amount of grit and nuance where needed. They complete an all-round great cast of relative new faces to the drama scene. The casting director who found Patrick J. Adams deserves a huge pat on the back for his discovery of such a great talent who is only just emerging. Likewise, his love interest Meghan Markle matches him at every turn, building a great chemistry that gives their relationship a real air of authenticity. The two-decade-long friendship of Macht and Sarah Rafferty, who plays his on-screen assistant Dana, shows in their on-screen rapport that simply cannot be faked nor taught. Even characters that bring demise to our beloved pair; like that of Rick Hoffman’s Louis Litt, are played with such brilliant timing and likeability that you can’t help but root for them too. The guest stars also provide pleasant surprises and include a number of somewhat recognisable faces such as Abigail Spencer, Amanda Schull, Gary Cole, Game of Thrones alums Michelle Fairley and Conleth Hill, as well as Macht’s real-life spouse, Jacinda Barrett.
3. It Looks Good
No, I am not just talking about how pretty the cast (especially the hot boys and beautiful girls mentioned above) is. Suits is incredibly stylish; from the costume design, to the lighting and the cinematography. Watching Suits almost makes you want to get a corporate job so that you can dress as savvy as these characters do. The women are also dressed impeccably with skirts and suits that are perfectly cut and tailored. Likewise, Harvey Specter’s flawlessly tailored Tom Ford’s (which Macht has mentioned in several interviews are his character’s choice of suit) are a beautiful, sharp contrast to the youthfulness of Mike Ross’ skinny lapelled suits and ties. More than that, the show itself is beautifully shot and framed. There is a prominent vibrancy of colour in every frame with scenes being shot at breathtakingly beautiful and interesting angles. Whilst the show has since moved from its New York City pilot location to Toronto, the glamorous and slick way the show is shot means that you don’t miss a beat and the aesthetics looks just as good as they did in the pilot.
4. It has Relationships we Care About
The most significant of these is obviously the bromance between Mike and Harvey. USA Network has made many a show on the bromance model including Psych and White Collar (which is also worth your time this summer), but Suits takes this to a whole new level by embracing their relationship right from the pilot. In his trademark smartass style, Ross teases Specter in the closing moments calling him on their friendship: “Would you admit it? You care about me. I saw you smile when I showed up for work this morning.” Their chemistry is the founding point of this show. The writers constantly throw obstacles in their way to test and challenge both Mike and Harvey, and you as the audience. There is also plenty of romance with Mike and Rachel constantly toying with the will-they-won’t-they relationship that provides intrigue and depth for both of the characters without weighing down the show. It would be remiss here not to mention the extreme power-plays that occur with Jessica Pearson as managing partner and Harvey’s mortal enemy Louis Litt. Litt’s constant fighting and power climbing with Harvey is reminiscent of the many schemes Dwight Schrute ran to end Jim Halpert’s reign of power in The Office. It’s a welcome relief and works well as a tension breaker.
5. Its Characters are Welcome
USA Network boasts the motto “Characters Welcome” and they have well marketed themselves as a network that is character based, creating shows that develop relationships and characters that are not only interesting but worth watching. Suits is no exception; in fact, it could almost be the rule. In this legal drama, little time is spent in the actual court room. In fact, one of the bigger complex legal dramas that occurs in the second season is really all about the characters and their relationships, power plays and struggles rather than the legality of the issue which takes a back seat. Although to some extent, some would characterise Suits as a “case of the week” drama, I would argue that more often than not the cases follow a multi-episode arc, and are a secondary backdrop to the character’s lives. The supporting cast, if you could call them that as Korsch and his writers almost write this as an ensemble piece, round out the stories of Specter and Ross by having notably distinct and varied personalities and stories to share with you that make Suits even more interesting and multi-layered than you first thought.
Slick, smart and good-looking in more ways than one, this is a show that I genuinely believe that critics, writers and viewers can and should love. If you are not already, do yourself a favour and watch this show.
You can thank me later.