There are some shows that everyone is talking about before it premieres, a la Game of Thrones. And then there are others that come up in conversation over Twitter, email, or (gasp, face-to-face?!) dinner a week or more after they air, and you joyfully realize you’re not the only one in your circle watching it and loving it. That’s an experience you may be having with USA’s Suits (Thursdays, 10 p.m. ET). If you’ve yet to get hooked, it’s the new show about Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), a brilliant former screw-up/stoner with a photographic memory who gets hired as an associate by one of New York City’s best (and best-dressed) legal closers, Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht, pictured). So why is this one of the summer’s most addictive new shows? I’ll show you my reasons, if you show me yours.
1. Harvey is both extremely hot and coolly complicated. Tom Ford cuts a nice suit and Macht wears them well. That’s a given. What’s surprising is the way Harvey continues to reveal himself NOT to be the bastard he’d be on most other legal shows. There’s a reason he hired Mike, who got kicked out of college for selling a test, when the firm only recruits Harvard grads. Harvey, who himself started in the firm’s mailroom, values being able to think on your feet, and Mike impressed Harvey when he stumbled into his candidate pool while running from the cops. He’d agreed to deliver a buddy’s briefcase of marijuana – to pay for his grandmother’s care – and ended up in the hotel where Harvey was holding interviews. Once Mike told Harvey his backstory – including the part about how once he reads something and understands it, he never forgets it, and oh yeah, he actually studied for the bar and passed it because some guy bet him he couldn’t – he was hired.
Harvey has a reputation to protect, which means he wants people to believe he doesn’t care about his clients, Mike, or anyone. But in last night’s episode, we saw him defend his longtime driver and take it easy on the cabbie suing them for a fender bender; help Mike save the buddy who got him kicked out of college and almost arrested for dealing drugs; and reveal his uniquely professional relationship with his assistant Donna (Sarah Rafferty) – he never has to give her an order. We know Harvey has a rule about not dating married women, but we’ve yet to see any woman capture his heart. As someone who loves sexual tension, that he’s not currently involved and he’s still my favorite character on this show says a lot. You want them to build up his tailored armor so when it inevitably cracks, it will be meaningful.
2. Mike is smart, but he doesn’t have it all figured out. It would be easy to make Mike right all the time, but half the fun of this show is watching him make a mistake and figure out how to correct it. What I like: He isn’t afraid to ask for help. That may mean teaming with the firm’s best paralegal Rachel (Meghan Markle), who we can already tell, is beginning to regret her decision not to date anyone at the firm. It also means trusting that Harvey wants to hear Mike’s problem – if it’s a big one. I yelled, “Tell him!” at the TV last night when Mike hesitated in sharing that two thugs threatened to kill his buddy if he didn’t bring them the money his friend owed.
3. The firm’s boss Gina Torres also knows how to wear a suit – and an attitude. Yes, Torres’ Jessica Pearson was a mentor to Harvey, but that doesn’t mean his job is safe. Harvey tends to take risks, which Jessica likes until they backfire on the firm. If he goes dangerously big again, he’s out. (Obviously, keeping the secret that Mike isn’t a real lawyer, let alone a Harvard man, is vital.) I hope we see more of Jessica, who got a larger role in last’s week episode when she and Harvey defended her ex-husband, who she didn’t realize was dying. Watching Harvey awkwardly pet her hand in comfort made me want to explore their relationship more.
4. They’re using just the right amount of Harvey’s arch nemesis Louis (Rick Hoffman). Mike also reports to Louis, who oversees the associates and seems to want to make Mike’s life extra difficult because he’s Harvey’s hire. Louis tends to be the one who does something each episode that threatens to out Mike as not being a Harvard alum. Harvey and Louis will grant each other favors when necessary but not without bartering, which we witnessed last night. We also learned that Louis does respect Harvey as an above-average lawyer, which is important: For Louis to be a quality frenemy, we need to think of him as Harvey’s (almost) equal.
5. The cast’s chemistry. I wouldn’t say Macht and Adams are TV’s Clooney and Damon (a review USA’s ads for the show like to quote), but they’re working on it. They make Harvey and Mike’s verbal volley effortless, and as a viewer, we buy that these men would enjoy working together – even if they won’t admit it. Adams has a softness about him that lures clients and viewers in – and also makes those sudden moments when Mike plays hardball pop. Macht is smooth and confident, so when Harvey does turn serious, you want to see what he’ll do next. The more episodes we see, the more the chemistry takes root. Macht and Torres, Macht and Hoffman, Adams and Hoffman, or Adams and Torres: there’s always some bite.
Your turn. Why are you loving Suits?