Straighten Your Ties Ladies and Gentlemen

Are mind-blowing explosions not your thing? Do you prefer clever and witty dialogue to the scare of the recent Hollywood horror blockbuster? Most of all do you like characters with pretty faces, or do you much more prefer characters with pretty faces and magnetic personalities? If so Suits is the show for you. Now, now, don’t sigh and roll your eyes. Getting through that first season is going to be worth it, so sit back, grab some popcorn, forget the sleep you wanted and binge Suits on Netflix. You’re in for a treat.

The TV series Suits entered the USA Network in 2011 with mixed reviews. Above everything else the TV series has outstanding lead characters that not only deserve their places in these scripts but also manage to make their place. These characters (which I would classify as Harvey Spectre, Mike Ross, Jessica, Rachel, Louis and Donna) got me through the tricky first season that seemed to be a boiling pot of water trying not to spill over as an uncoordinated child carried it across the kitchen. While the first season may have had its hiccups, overall it was needed for the set-up of the series, which finally managed to achieve it’s amazing potential in the second season and onward. As a writer for the law series Fear or Favour I can’t help but marvel at the progress they’ve made in this series, and I feel that analyzing Suits has helped me to focus on similar key issues in our own drafts and what Fear or Favour needs to succeed.

The pilot for the first season was crucial in how it was written and mapped the basis of plot, theme and conflict. One of the main story arcs in the series is Jessica questioning if Harvey is fit enough to be her successor in leading the law firm. She questions this because he doesn’t show compassion or empathy towards clients or fellow workers, he only has a drive to win. The writers of the show obviously intended for this to be a serial arc as it is not only addressed at the end of season 1 but also more strongly in season 2. This arc also brings up a bigger theme in the series about what it is to be a lawyer and a person at the same time. Suits questions morality in their cases and how the characters interact with each other. I found myself wondering if a lawyer’s job is to help their clients in the theme of morality that the justice system carries, or if it is to be simply good at your job and be the last one standing.

*Caution spoilers ahead. We see this at the end of season 1 when Harvey has learned that an old case had falsified evidence that landed an innocent man in jail on murder charges. Harvey is driven to help the innocent man and right his wrong. Although in the case Harvey states his famous one liner along the lines of, “I’m Harvey Spectre, I always win,” Harvey seems genuinely fighting for this man out of empathy and a need to do the right thing. The only problem I had with this story arc being presented at the end of the first season is that none of the characters address it, let alone came back to the possibility of Harvey being a successor for Jessica. There are a few witty lines directed at Harvey’s friendship with Mike, but no mention of Harvey’s interaction with this man, nor what drives his motivation to win this fight. What’s genius about this story arc comes to play in the second season when the writers turn the tables on Mike Ross and push him on a downward decline where his only mentality is winning with a smaller lack of understanding and care for clients and co-workers. The writers address this arc to multiple characters rather than just Harvey. Pushing to see this in the writing earlier in the series would have made the first season so much stronger.

The pilot for the first season is an obvious attempt from the writers of the series at testing the waters instead of diving into the potential the series holds. Characters actions are indecisive as they were written to go from one choice to another as an unnecessary tool to present character personalities and quirks. This can be seen during Mike’s first day at work where Harvey tries to let him go after being warned by Jessica about his infringements even though he has already decided that hiring Mike was worth the consequences. The only purpose for this seemed to be that the writers needed to A) Punish Harvey for lying to a client, and B) Present a situation where Mike could blackmail Harvey and in turn Harvey would blackmail Jessica. Out of these moments the only thing I took away was character traits that both Mike and Harvey would blackmail to get what they wanted. It’s small hiccups and bumps like this that offset the pilot episode and the episodes following until the series was able to stand tall on its feet. The first season definitely manages to become stronger by the finale, which sets up an amazing beginning to diving into the real gritty conflicts these characters will face in the rest of the series.

All in all, this season had hilariously subtle humour, an easy plot to follow, compelling characters and great episodic stories. The writers obviously know what they’re doing with their charming and witty dialogue, comedic patterns and jokes, and their ability to end the season with a strong story and a cliffhanger for the next season. Buckle up boys and girls because the next three seasons are going to be stronger than ever.

-Kate

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