1. Following someone else’s recommendation.
2. Chevy Chase is old, but I’ll give him a shot anyways.
With the exception of my all-time favorite show Community, every time I’ve sat down to watch a show it’s been because someone online or in real life has told me it’s worthwhile. Usually they have to say so three or four times though before the message really sets in, because one thing is certain about TV shows: they all have a good pitch, but it’s the details that make or break even the best.
Think of it this way. Firefly was a space western; the concept practically sells itself. But were it any less than the vision of Joss Whedon, with his absolute adherence to theme and spectacular cast, the entire show would not have the cult following it has gained over the years. So when someone comes to me and says “it’s a space western” I secretly want to believe something is as good as Firefly but in reality I’ve heard it all before. We’ve all tried out a show with a great premise only to find out we’re sick and tired of Burn Notice or Heroes.
All this to say that when a friend told me “you should check out Suits,” my mind went straight to “Lawyers. Boring. No thanks” before she even finished her sentence. And why should I be that way? This friend and I share many tastes in television preferences, so why would I immediately shake an idea off? In truth, it’s because lawyers ARE boring, unless they’re Jim Carrey trying not to lie or determining the balance of truth and justice in a life or death case. I fully believed my friend’s recommendation, but shrugged it off because, let’s face it, she’s way smarter than I am and everything would probably go over my head.
Then, she said those magic words, which broke the self-centered spell I’d had over myself: “Zoey is in it.”
Zoey. Firefly Zoey. Gina Torres back in a supporting role, something I’ve been hoping to successfully see accomplished for years. It’s frustrating enough watching Summer Glau jump from project to project. In reality, only Nathan Fillion has fared well after Firefly with his above-average although serial Castle series, not counting Joss Whedon’s The Avengers movie only because it hasn’t been brought to fruition yet. So I jumped at the chance to see a familiar face supporting a couple of guys I’d never seen before. I grabbed the first episode of Suits and prayed it would be good. At this point it became a question of fairness rather than talent, writing, or even concept. I just wanted Torres to succeed for a while, hoping it would abridge some of the guilt I’d accumulated for not helping Firefly become a fully realized series back when it aired.
And I have to admit, Suits is a serious success as a TV series. I haven’t watched the “other new lawyer show” Franklin & Bash on the grounds that it appears to be the Glee of serial television, catering to the lowest denominator that just wants relatability handed to them on a platter with a side of ingenuity usually only reserved for the big screen. I’ve even been avoiding Fairly Legal as it looks like another USA Network slacker show focusing more on character than it does plot coherency. Obviously I could be wrong, and even if I’m right on that account the USA hits like Psych still are quite entertaining despite their repetitive plot structures. The point is, there are a ton of these shows and because of this Suits flew under my radar for all the wrong reasons. It won’t teach you much about the law, but for its premise it’s a well-engaging tale that brings new challenges to its actors and writing staff on a regular basis so far.
The key there is “so far,” and I hope they don’t fall into the Royal Pains trap of becoming way too caught up in the atmosphere and show success to actually keep an interesting storyline for a few episodes. But for now it holds up. If you want to know the premise, it’s this: Mike Ross has a good heart and a great mind, however he’s been using his talents for the wrong purpose. He’s been helping others cheat on the bar exam since he’s memorized all the texts. Legendary closer Harvey Specter (someone had a ton of fun with that name, I’ll tell you that) finds his secret out and hires him anyways as a lawyer. Mike then has to pretend he graduated Harvard, separate from his old life, try to woo the cute paralegal, solve cases, and learn all the real-world lawyer business that the bar exam never taught him. All while dealing with the is-he-a-jerk-or-does-he-really-care Harvey and their firm’s head GINA TORRES. (Her character’s name is Jessica Pearson but honestly I never knew that until I looked it up, she’s Zoey to me.)
All the expected lawyer-ing dramas ensue, as well as those you’d expect when a kid lies to get into a firm. Relationships with old friends haunt him, keeping up with Harvard information helps him try to fit in with the graduated crowd, and he has to suck up to the head honchos in the firm. These Suits does with relative ease, allowing for the larger cases to take a main stage to show both Harvey’s greatness and Mike’s naivety. The two work well because they’re unlike any leading duo on TV today, separated by ten years of experience yet still fighting the same fights. The law becomes a secondary focus but a necessary catalyst as Mike learns life lessons and skills.
Suits is in this way a lot like Scrubs, I have a feeling we’re going to see the good and bad sides of every character. Only seven episodes in, and we’re finally seeing Mike lose a case, even if it’s a small one. As with death being a constant companion on Scrubs, I hope for the sake of this show that failure becomes an option for the writers. It’s not like a murder case where life is on the line, instead the law can be billions of shades of gray just waiting for someone to dig deeper. This is the largest place where Suits has a gap, the entire production seems a little too fun at times and could use a jolt of reality now and then. Although, it is a show on USA, I doubt we’ll see much else than WIN WIN WIN and a few silly plot twists to keep us coming back.
So if you’re looking for a show that stays interesting and has a few characters worth watching when they speak (a trait necessary for someone playing a lawyer and something these actors pull off well) I’d say catch some of Suits before it hits its third season USA Network traditional slide in quality. It’s got that patented “aren’t we such a super-fun network” appeal to it that all the other shows do, but I’d say more than the rest it has some substance locked away in its depths. I hope they decide to unveil it.