If Suits had been made ten or twenty years ago, it would be one of those must-watch American imports on British TV, shown at prime time on ITV. Now, with multi-channel broadcasting, it is tucked away on the awfully-named Dave channel and most of the population of the UK have never heard of it. The multi-channel era is very good at hiding wonderful shows away so that no-one ever starts to watch then unless they are channel-surfing and suddenly take an interest in the few seconds they get to see.
Suits, for those of you unfortunate enough not to have seen it, tells of the life, loves and cases within a high-flying law firm. The first season begins with lawyer Harvey Specter (played by Gabriel Macht) hiring Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), a new associate, despite the fact that Mike has never been to law school. We then move through various cases (some of which I don’t actually understand, but that doesn’t seem to matter) and the constant threat of Mike’s secret being exposed, as well as following the personal lives of those at the law film. It’s the emphasis on the latter that makes Suits particularly special, with the other members of the firm growing in importance and screen time as the series progresses.
There are some wonderful performances here. Rick Hoffman manages to make Louis Litt believable, despite the fact that the character could easily fall into caricature and series clown in lesser hands. Sarah Rafferty as Donna, Harvey’s secretary, puts in a brilliant performance week after week, instilling her character with a mix of humour and heart. Gina Torres is Jessica Pearson, one of the characters that has been developed with each successive season and has gone from simply a boss-like figure to a warm, determined human being. Rachel, Mike’s girlfriend and fellow associate, is played by Meghan Markle and, again, the character has grown as the series has moved on. But it is the chemistry and the occasional sparring between Macht and Adams as Harvey and Mike that is at the heart of the show – and it was only during a short period when Mike left the law firm and the two shared hardly any screen time that the show fell in quality. The other real stars here are the writers, who manage to produce interesting, human, moving and funny material for its characters week after week in a way that many better-known shows could only dream of.
Many would call Suits the L. A. Law of the 2010s and, I guess, that is a fair comparison, but the issue here is that Suits is a far better written, acted, directed and consistent show than L. A. Law ever was. The earlier show, essential viewing in its day, was very inconsistent, moving from brilliance one week to sheer stupidity the following episode. Each successive season got more and more inconsistent until the whole thing just unravelled and ended with season eight in 1994. Suits, on the other hand, moves from strength to strength, with season five probably being the best so far, especially now the “Mike is going to be exposed” storyline has finally been seen to have run its course and, seemingly, put to bed (although, as I write this, I see in the synopsis for future episodes that it might appear again). What’s more, it has that consistency in quality that L. A. Law never had.
If you haven’t caught Suits you have missed a treat. But don’t join it now, go and get yourself the DVDs of the earlier seasons and catch-up first. With more than sixty episodes to watch, it will also give you many opportunities to hear the theme song and try to work out what the hell they are singing about!