Updated: Mar 16
Spoilers ahead... (Duh! Of course!)
I know that I sound a lot like another fellow Suits lover from the team. But if any of you guys know me, you would know that I'm better. I'm sorry, I was just trying to be cocky like Harvey Specter. That's the effect this series has on me. I haven't devoured any other web series as I did Suits. This is one TV show that got me hooked right from the pilot. For the uninitiated, Suits is a drama/comedy series about a bunch of lawyers and Donna. It chronicles their personal and professional lives that more often than not intersect. Even though this show has been around forever, I would still refrain from giving any spoilers because it deserves to be watched by every TV show connoisseur/fanatic/maniac, ever.
This series is a perfect example of solid writing throughout. For almost 4 seasons, the writers use the Hitchcock way of building suspense. The suspense slowly starts becoming a shared secret where the characters take advantage of the vulnerable (who very often turns out to be either Mike Ross or Louis Litt, played by Patrick J. Adams and Rick Hoffman, respectively). If the plot is so simple, what's so good about the series? Good question. When the plot is simple it becomes important that the conflicts that the characters face in the series have a good dramatic depth which brings out the many layers of the characters. This is where the writer Aaron Korsh proves himself to be one of the best writers. It is one thing to write for a film and a completely whole different ball game to write for a TV show.
When in movies you just have to take care of the three-act structure only once, in the case of a TV show it has to come forward in every single episode. Some even say that writing for a TV show is a lot more liberating as one is able to peel into the different layers of the characters with a lot more freedom than is possible in a film. But let's not digress. Aaron has done a wonderful job in Suits where, in the initial few episodes of the show, we quickly form favourites and harbour not-so-noble feelings for the other characters. Cases in point are the characters of Harvey Specter, Mike Ross, Rachel Zane, Donna Paulsen and Louis Litt. Personally, Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres) has always been a character and not more. I mean that she was someone that I could never relate to. However, I'm sure we all had a love-hate relationship with Harvey Specter, moments of "Aww" with Donna and Rachel and "What the hell is wrong with him?" disbelief with Louis Litt.
But the genius of Aaron Korsh is not just here. After having introduced us to the seemingly uni-dimensional characters, he goes on to reveal what makes them who they are right now with some terrific twists in the flashbacks. Take for instance the character arc of Harvey Specter. He comes off as nothing short of - pardon my language - a dick in expensive suits. But as the show progresses we get to see the different struggles and pains that he had to endure which led him to abhor emotions completely. So much so that he keeps them at bay by running away from such situations or by deflecting from them. I'm sure all of us had our moments of shock when we saw that he started seeing someone... a shrink!
Another fantastic example is the character of Louis Litt. Before I get into what makes the writing fabulous I want to laud the decision to characterize the character the way it was. He is a man who many of us would see to be "effeminate" or "lacking the manliness" of an alpha male. In fact, next to Harvey Specter he would come off as a tawdry prop! What is fascinating is the fact that even though he considers himself inferior to Harvey Specter as a lawyer, he is at peace with who he intrinsically is. That is some level of self-worth that I would die to have! Coming back, he is another character who from being a heartless monster who endlessly tirades at the associates with his fiery temper would turn into a doting husband, dependable friend and most importantly a well-rounded human being. The scene where he bursts out after Norma dies and the episode where he helps his therapist in a pickle are some of the few examples that show his growth as a character in the series.
If layered characterisation is one aspect that keeps it going, the details in the plot lines of each episode is another. Very often, TV shows tend to be like season after season of mini-movies. Let me explain. Of the different TV shows that I have come across, most of them, with the exception of Person of Interest, have episodes where each one deals with a new issue or a conflict. This means that the show can be started from anywhere and yet you wouldn't miss much other than the characters' evolutionary arc. Take for instance Sex Education where each episode of the series starts with a problem that a character deals with in the beginning or a few characters have a conversation about a sex-related issue. The episode then moves on to solve that problem or complete the conversation with a few other relevant and topical issues thrown into the narrative of the 40 odd minutes of the run time. Of course, some elements from the past like Otis and Maeve's love-hate relationship would need you to watch the previous episodes. But if you are not much of a fan when it comes to individual characters' baggage you wouldn't mind leaving that part behind.
However, in Suits, the writing goes beyond the character arcs. For instance, the whole of the first season revolves around the secret of Mike Ross getting into the job without having gone to law school... or any school for that matter. Having said that, it doesn't mean that there is no other conflict in the plot of each episode. By including other cases (or suits), the writers make sure the time bomb is kept ticking while engrossing us in the drama of the suit that comes up in each episode.
The writing does get predictable towards the latter seasons of the show. Especially after Gina Torres leaves the show it even lags a bit. But I think many of you would agree with me when I say that it is a fate that many TV shows face as they grow older. After all, we did come to a point where we could actually see Louis Litt melting even before Gretchen came back to him after her stint with Faye Richardson.
Flaws and all, for me, Suits is one of the best TV shows ever in terms of writing. It is a masterpiece and a masterclass on how to stand out in an era where TV shows are released at the drop of a hat and gain popularity due to sheer peer pressure and propaganda. The series ended 2 years ago but still stays relevant and interesting to people across the world. You can watch it streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.