By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 23, 2023 |
By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 23, 2023 |
All nine seasons of Suits are available for streaming on Netflix today, which is a bigger deal than some might think. It’s trending on Twitter largely because of Meghan Markle, who played Rachel Zane for seven of its nine seasons. With all due respect to Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, she is not the reason to watch Suits. She’s not not the reason to watch, either.
That’s kind of the deal with Suits. It is not a great show, but it is wildly addictive, but not in the traditional Netflix binge-watching sense. There aren’t a lot of cliffhangers, and while the series is serialized, the long-running storylines move like molasses. It’s mostly about the characters — the series does come from the “Characters Are Welcome” era of the USA Network — who are very attractive and very charming. That’s the real allure of Suits.
Why is it called Suits? Honestly, I have no idea. It’s a legal drama, but it spends very little time in the courtroom. In fact, the creator and showrunner, Aaron Korsh, has a Wall Street background, and it’s apparent. This show doesn’t know shit about the law. One of the show’s two leads, Harvey Spector — played by Gabriel Macht — is the law firm’s “closer.” He settles cases. That’s his thing. The other lead, Mike Ross (Patrick Adams), is a young hot-shot lawyer with a photographic memory. In fact, the original premise of the series — which is picked up and dropped over the course of the series when it’s convenient to the story — is that Mike doesn’t have a law degree, nor did he attend law school. He’s pretending to be a lawyer, which is illegal and unethical. Sometimes, the series likes to make viewers worry that he’s going to be found out. Most of the time, however, the series ignores its premise and treats Mike Ross like an actual lawyer.
Part of what makes Suits so addictive is that it operates like a low-rent Game of Thrones set in a law firm where the Iron Throne is becoming a partner or, better still, the managing partner, a title that begins with Gina Torres’ Jessica Pearson but moves around some. There are no Red Weddings or wars, but the characters move up the corporate ladder after winning cases. Again, there’s very little law involved, and there are no legal questions to debate. It’s about bluster and confidence; the cases are dick-swinging contests. Sometimes the cases are won because Harvey puffs his chest up the most; sometimes the cases are won because Mike memorizes a bunch of books; and sometimes, Jessica Pearson comes in and shows them all up because, in Ted Lasso parlance, she is is a “boss ass bitch.” All of the cases are won in a very simple way: Someone puts a sheet of paper inside a manilla folder, passes it across the table to the opposing counsel, and the opposing counsel reads what’s on the sheet of paper and folds. We never actually see what’s on the paper. It’s not important. It’s not about the law. It’s about the bluster.
It’s not just about Harvey, Mike, Jessica, and Rachel, either. Harvey’s secretary and romantic endgame is Donna Paulsen, who is played by Sarah Rafferty. She’s the glue that holds the place together. She cleans up everyone’s messes. She’s also easy on the eyes. Rick Hoffman’s Louis Litt, meanwhile, is the scene stealer, an obnoxious weasel that ultimately grows on the viewer, like a barnacle. He’s in a constant feud with Harvey. You will despise him for three seasons, and then he will be your favorite character for a season or two.
There’s also a great rotating cast of recurring characters played by the likes of Wendell Pierce, Rachael Harris, Amanda Schull, and David Costabile. They’re too good for this show, but it’s fun to watch them slum it. Late in its run, after Meghan Markle leaves to become British royalty, she’s replaced by Katherine Heigl, while Dulé Hill — who is the best — fills in during Patrick Adams’ absence. Both Heigl and Hill are pieces that fit perfectly into the series, which does not require any heavy lifting. It does, however, frequently drop insanely obvious pop-culture references and pats itself on the back, as though nodding to Shawshank Redemption is a deep pull. It’s weirdly part of its charm. There’s also a long-running reference to a can opener that viewers should keep an eye out for.
Again, and I can’t emphasize this enough: Suits is not a great show. What it is, however, is maybe the all-time greatest show to watch while you’re doing something else: The laundry, cooking, working out, or napping. It’s the television equivalent of vegging out, and it never deteriorates much in quality because it never sets high expectations. It’s just hot stupid fun, and with the summer approaching, it’s that perfect show to watch when you don’t feel like watching anything else. I can also almost guarantee that it will hover in the most-watched shows for the next couple of months, at least. If that prompts a 10th season? Well, I wouldn’t complain.