Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Inexplicable TV Review: Suits, a legal show about emotional suffering now

Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) and Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht).

NOTE: Spoilers follow!

In June of 2011, Suits premiered on USA, and it initially seemed like the perfect, airy sort of show for the summer. Patrick J. Adams starred as Mike Ross, a 20-something with a photographic memory that was pretending that he had graduated from Harvard Law School. He was hired by a prestigious law firm, with the heavies at it being the uber-slick Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), the measured Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres, a.k.a. Zoe Washburne) and the petty Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman).

The early seasons of the show focused on individual court cases, with the longest arcs being a couple episodes. There was always the tension of Mike’s secret being revealed, but for the most part, things were kept light and the focus was kept on the power of his memory and persuasion. Sarah Rafferty as Donna Paulsen and Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane also helped out the ensemble, as Harvey’s legal secretary and Mike’s love interest, respectively.

However, the show has been paralyzed in its last two seasons because it has almost entirely been focused on The Drama that Mike’s secret causes. Yes, that tension has always hung in the air, but since having 30+ episodes now focused on it just seems somewhat ridiculous. Harvey, Jessica and Louis are all wholly-consumed with covering for Mike, since they’ve profited from his legal knowledge and photographic memory.

To the show’s credit, they haven’t done the Homeland thing and come up with a magical solution to allow Mike to wiggle out of not having a law degree. Unfortunately, it has created a morose slog that’s just not entertaining to watch. What’s the appeal in watching characters we’ve bonded with for four years being torn down and emotional tortured for an entire season?

The fifth season just finished with an episode on March 2. In the season finale, Mike admits that he’s not a lawyer and takes two years in prison, covering for Harvey, who had tried repeatedly to take the sentence instead of Mike. The cascade effect is that the law firm Mike was working for – Pearson Specter Litt – is essentially shutdown, as most of the associates flee for other firms. Mike taking the prison term leaves his relationship with Rachel completely up in the air, since they were to be married. Also, Rachel’s dad is Bunk from The Wire, although he’s mostly just playing a stern authority figure and lawyer on the show.

The show has already been renewed for a sixth season, likely to premiere sometime later this year. I’ll likely keep watching, because I have no idea where the hell they can go from here. However, I have a similar feeling of dread with it as I did going into the final season of Glee, where I’ve lost so much faith in their ability to stick the landing here. (And by the way – There hasn’t been an announcement that the sixth season will be the last, so incredibly, they might try to keep things going for who knows how long.)

The photo is a common promotional image used by USA for the show.

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