From the NYTimes, in 2008:
Asked why, Ms. Heigl said that she had decided not to have herself submitted for a nomination. “I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention,” she said in a statement. “In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials.”
A decade later, and the irony in Heigl trashing the writers on Grey’s Anatomy the day after her premiere in USA Network’s Suits has never been richer. Yet I want to make something perfectly clear: I unabashedly adore Suits and — thanks to more recent projects like Home Sweet Hell and Unforgettable — I have also become a huge Katherine Heigl convert. I love that she’s doing Suits, and I really love her character in the season premiere.
But this is also true: Suits is trash. Because there is so much great #content in the Peak TV era, I don’t actually allow myself much in the way of guilty pleasures, but Suits is a constant (and thanks to being the highest rated series on the USA Network, the series — entering its eighth season — probably will continue to be a constant for years to come).
What’s so remarkable about Suits is that it is a legal drama with absolutely zero understanding of how the law works. There are clients in Suits, and there are “cases,” but it’s remarkable how little they matter. They are MacGuffins. In every single episode. There are no legal battles; the cases are designed solely to allow the characters on Suits to posture. The facts in any given case never matter; they barely even exist. A “case” is something that exists in a manila folder that is passed around like a hot potato — if you are holding the folder, you are allowed to speak. But the contents of that folder are never revealed.
And they’ve been doing this for eight seasons. It truly is an achievement.
Last night’s season premiere was no exception, and for those of you who don’t watch Suits or haven’t since its better, earlier seasons, you may be surprised by the names of the cast members I drop here. In the premiere, Mike and Rachel (Patrick Adams and Meghan Markle) have married and left for another firm in Seattle (both have also left the show for good), and Harvey (Gabriel Macht) has merged his firm with that of Rachel’s father, Robert Zane (Wendell Pierce, yes, Wendell Pierce). The opening play is this: Who gets to be the managing partner, Harvey or Zane?
The machinations behind that choice are actually played out with their respective right-hands, Alex Williams (Dulé Hill, yes Dulé Hill) and Samantha Wheeler (Katherine Heigl). There are conflicts of interests between one of Zane’s clients and one of Harvey’s clients, so … get this … Alex and Samantha are in a race to see who can first convince their client to sell off the conflicting divisions of their client’s respective companies! YOU CAN’T TELL A CORPORATION TO SELL OFF AN ENTIRE DIVISION SO THAT THEY CAN MAINTAIN THE SAME LEGAL COUNSEL!
Not that it matters. Aaron Korsh — the Suits showrunner, who has an MBA and no legal experience — has no interest in the legal battle itself (through eight seasons, this legal show has spent fewer than 15 minutes in a courtroom). He throws in some legalese (“you can’t file an ex parte motion retroactively!”), but again, this is all about posturing. For the better part of an hour, Samantha tells Alex, “I’m going to kick your ass,” and Alex tells Samantha, “I’m going to kick your ass,” and then Harvey steps in and says, “Alex, you’re getting your ass kicked, so I’m going to take over,” and then Robert Zane says, “Ha! You lose, Harvey! This was never about the case! This was about who could be a better managing partner, and you just undermined your own right hand!” and then Donna Paulsen — the true MVP of Suits — steps in and say, “You know he’s right, Harvey,” and bats her eyelashes, and Harvey’s like, “OK. Fine! You’re right, Robert,” and then Robert’s like, “Thanks, Donna!” and then Donna’s like, “You were never happy at the top of the mountain anyway, Harvey. You’re more comfortable swinging that big dick of yours inside a courtroom,” and Harvey’s like, “Yes, I am! And I want to fuck you, Donna, but I won’t because we’ve got to keep this going for at least another four seasons” and then Katherine Heigl’s like, “Fuck all of y’all. Put my name on the door or I will smash you all under my stiletto!” and I’m like:
This show is trash! There’s a reason why all the walls in the Specter, Zane and Litt law firm are glass, and it’s because the actors have chewed all of the scenery off of them. All of the characters are like incredibly hot wind-up dolls whose strings you pull and they deliver one of five expressions, and Korsh just mixes and matches these expressions in different combinations every week. And yet, I cannot seem to get enough of it. Every week, Suits is a contest to see who has the bigger genitalia, and it’s rarely about opposing counsel, who barely exist on Suits. It’s all about intra-firm politics. It’s basically Game of Thrones set in a law firm, only the writing is terrible and everyone over-acts, and I love it.
Still, considering where she is now, the fact that Heigl once turned her nose up at the writing on Grey’s Anatomy may be one of the most fitting instances of Karma that I have ever witnessed. Credit to Heigl, though: She takes those bad lines, and she delivers the ever-living shit out of them.