SUITS and the Unsustainable Premise

This should be required reading for everybody who ever wants to be involved with creating a television series. Which should mean, yeppers, everybody who comes to TVWriter™:


by John Perich

I’ve been catching up on Seasons 1 and 2 of Suits, USA’s slick new legal drama. It plays like a quippier, faster, and more shallow version of Mad Men. It’s just clever enough for my taste, but it doesn’t wallow in its cleverness the way geekier shows do – one of my pet peeves. All that said, however, there are two things I struggle with.

(1) The catchy yet incomprehensible theme song. I’ve resorted to making up my own lyrics rather than guessing at what’s really being sung. “Gonna have a pizza pie / in your eye / Gonna split an onion bomb / with your mom …”

(2) The perilously unsustainable premise.

For those who haven’t indulged yet: Harvey Spector (played by Gabriel Macht, having emerged from the doghouse that the title role in Frank Miller’s The Spirit earned him) is a hotshot closer at the prestigious NYC law firm of Pearson Hardman. He’s been told to select a protege out of a pool of interviewing associates, but none of them impress him – except one kid, a scruffy blond with an encyclopedic knowledge of basic law and the photographic memory to prove it. It turns out that this kid, Mike Ross (Patrick Adams), isn’t actually a lawyer. In fact, not only has he never been to law school, he only stumbled into this interview as a way to hide from a drug deal gone bad. Intrigued by Mike’s quick wits and prodigious memory, Harvey hires him anyway.

Neat, right? It tells us something about Harvey right off – he’s a game-player, he values genius and improvisation more than experience, he’s willing to bend the rules to get the job done. It also binds Mike to him in an interesting way – Mike could get in trouble if caught, sure, but Harvey’s career will also be over. So you’ve got two loose cannons on the 50th floor, bending the law in order to serve it.

The only question: how long can they keep this up?

Practicing law without being admitted to the bar, for those who don’t have Mike Ross’s photographic memory, is uniformly illegal. The penalties vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but in New York it’s a misdemeanor. But even without the legal threat, there’s the damage to the reputation of Pearson Hardman. Every time Mike fraudulently represents himself as a lawyer adds another scar to the Dorian Gray-like portrait that must, inevitably, be unveiled. He’s already appeared in court at least twice – most recently in “Break Point” (S2E5), representing a tennis phenom.

Not only has Mike not been admitted to the bar, he hasn’t even been to Harvard – and Pearson Hardman makes a point of only hiring Harvard graduates. So that’s at least two lies that Mike has to keep straight. Mike doesn’t even bother covering his tracks until “Dirty Little Secrets” (S1E4), and that’s with the unsolicited help of a computer hacker. And even when his record is (fraudulently) updated to create a Harvard law degree, he still has an awfully empty past – no college diploma, no prior legal work experience. If any other lawyer invested the amount of effort in checking out Mike’s past that Mike and Harvey invest in checking out their clients and opponents, Mike’s secret would be outed in a heartbeat.

So someone must eventually discover Mike’s secret. And someone, in fact, does – Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), managing partner of the firm (S2E1). The only reason she doesn’t can him and Harvey immediately is because a bigger threat rears its head. But how much damage could such a discovery do in the hands of Harvey’s intra-firm rival Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman)? Or the Boston lawyer who’s gunning for Harvey, Travis Tanner?

How long can this go on?

Read it all (lots more)


LB Sees SUITS (and Also BOB AND RAY)

The Good:

  • When this series began it was an interesting series about a genius drug dealer who knew the law so well that he successfully did all the work his lazy lawyer “partner” was supposed to do in intriguing criminal and semi-criminal cases
  • Good looking actors, both men and women, in even better looking clothes

The Not-So-Good:

  • The series has evolved away from the original concept and has become about the internal politics and business of a highly successful big city law firm instead
  • The internal affairs and business of the highly successful law firm, composed of good looking men and women in even better looking clothes are the same as the affairs and business on every soap opera since Ray Goulding and Bob Elliott (alias Chris Elliott’s father) AKA Bob and Ray began parodying them in 1945

The Result:

  • I’ve gotten hold of all the old BOB AND RAY SHOW material I can and have been listening/watching (they did both radio and TV) to them instead of bothering to see any of my DVR’d SUITS, and I think you should too

munchman: SUITS Showrunner Speaks!

…And a coupla peeps listen:

Suits – Conference Call with Creator and Showrunner Aaron Korsh Snippets
by Brandon Rowe

Today I had a conference call opportunity with the creator and showrunner of Suits, Aaron Korsh. The interview was highly informative and entertaining. I was able to ask 2 different questions during the interview.

My first question was submitted by Allison Sophie and was “What can we expect to see in terms of a backstory of Donna and Harvey and how does their relationship play into the grand scheme of things?” Aaron started off with the second part of the question in saying that he didn’t expect Donna and Harvey to get together anytime soon. He also talked about one of the more odd things on the show, “the can opener”. He mentioned it, but refused to explain it because he didn’t think it would quite have the magic it does if everyone knew what it meant. He said that people don’t want to know what it is… they want to, want to know what it is.” You might have to reread that one if it seems weird in writing. He also said that the most important Donna/Harvey episode is going to be 2.09 which is called “Asterisk”.

My second question was a follow up and I asked “What do you think Harvey and Donna’s relationship does to Harvey’s opinion of Mike and Rachel?” He thought it was a great question and went into what he saw Harvey’s morals as. He said he didn’t think that Harvey cared about Mike and Rachel being together as much as “the secret”. He said that if the two of them being together meant Mike had to tell her he wouldn’t allow it. Aaron said that what he likes about Harvey is that he doesn’t care about other people’s moral choices unless they affect him.

Read it all

Not as enlightening, nor as visually appealing as it could be, but, hey, any time they interview a writer it’s gold to us. (Next time publish his picture, asshats!)

the kinder, gentler munchman