Despite airing for nine seasons from 2011 to 2019, Suits is probably best known as the show Meghan Markle had to quit in order to become the Duchess of Sussex. But despite that dismissive reputation, the show is actually very, very good. Think... Scandal meets The Good Fight meets The Practice, with a touch of Miss Sloane and a sprinkle of Ally McBeal for good measure. Now it’s on Netflix in full, and it’s the perfect thing to make time to watch (or rewatch).
As with many shows centered on high-powered professions, Suits is driven by the hubris of its white male stars. At the beginning of the series, Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) takes Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) under his wing as an associate at the law firm Pearson Hardman. Though Mike is a college dropout who’s never been to law school, he does have a photographic memory — and he’s been making money by taking the (infamously difficult to pass) New York bar exam for lazy little cheaters who don’t want to study.
Impressed with his recall, and amused by what he largely sees as a party trick, Harvey mentors and confides in Mike. Together they take on some of the firm’s toughest cases, all while trying to keep Mike’s secret under wraps. (Because, as you may recall, practicing law without a license is a crime!) Naturally, hijinks ensue. And a lot of the fun of the show is watching the firm’s internal machinations play out as the circle of trust expands.
Propulsive and slick, Suits excels at tying and untying narrative knots. Political to its core, Harvey, Mike, and the cast of characters who fill out the show are at the top of their games, going up against bankers, prosecutors, businessmen, and other such unsavory characters to fight for justice — all while diligently and artfully sidestepping their own complicity. Frustrating though they may be, Harvey and Mike are smooth operators who deeply enjoy practicing law. Winning cases is nice, but their bond is most directly about their shared love of the law as an intellectual exercise. We might see a billion-dollar lawsuit, but they see a high-stakes 4D puzzle to solve.
But the real joy of Suits is its characters. Over nine seasons, the show meticulously undoes its own presumptions about the wants and goals of the people in its story, allowing them to expand and contract as people when they encounter new problems. Jessica Pearson in particular is a wonderful example. Gina Torres’ majestic and towering performance gives us a savvy Afro-Latina attorney at the very top of her game. Her career has been hard-won, and Suits never forgets that, allowing her to go toe-to-toe with the maverick lawyers who report to and challenge her. As the show continues, she bonds with both paralegal Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle) and legal secretary Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty), forming a little sisterhood they each use to sustain themselves in a male-dominated profession. When Harvey and Mike’s shenanigans jeopardize her standing and reputation, she illuminates with righteous fury why the stakes are so much higher for her. In an era of Olivia Popes and Annalise Keatings, Jessica Pearson was a quiet torchbearer for irrefutable excellence. And that’s before we even get to those suits.
A decadent little drama, Suits is a perfect comfort marathon watch. With exciting cases, wonderful interpersonal relationships, and a will-they-won’t-they to satisfy even the most impatient shippers, there are worse ways you could spend 134 hours of your time. Yes, I counted.
Suits seasons 1-8 are now streaming on Netflix.