Trash TV: Suits

I've been hopped up on Brain Drugs for the last week and unable to concentrate on anything remotely complex or engaging. In situations like this, there's only one thing to do: find the shallowest, trashiest television imaginable and imbibe it like a deep-sea jellyfish sucking up marine snow.

I found the perfect example in Suits, a lawyer show that features approximately five different sets and episodic stories that rarely get anywhere near as complicated as a CSI: Miami episode. More importantly, it's on Netflix and there's six seasons of it. But while staring slack-jawed at my tablet, my brain occasionally managed to engage a neuron or two correctly, and I found that I actually had opinions about the show. Most of them are negative, so I want to emphasise up front that I am in fact enjoying it so far.

The main character of the show is Mike Ross, a genius college dropout who's managed to achieve approximately nothing with his life despite an eidetic memory and other skills that smart people in TV shows have. Through a series of improbable shenanigans, he crosses paths with Harvey Spector, a partner at a high-powered law firm that recruits exclusively from recent Harvard graduates. Mike impresses Harvey with his intellect and quick thinking, and Harvey decides to hire Mike as the firm's newest associate...despite the small wrinkle that he's never set foot in Harvard (he has actually passed the New York bar exam though, as before their meeting he was making a living taking tests for people). 

The show kind of pulls a bait and switch with that premise. I assumed--and the pilot would lead you to believe--that this is going to be a House style affair about an insufferable genius impressing everyone with his brain powers. I assumed that Mike would swan into Harvey's firm and show everyone that all their fancy book-learnin' is meaningless compared to his inherent intelligence.  

But actually, no. Mike's lack of formal law education is a huge disadvantage: he has all the laws and statutes and trove of theoretical knowledge memorized better than even senior judges, but he doesn't actually know how to use any of it effectively. At least over the course of the first season, he repeatedly either makes mistakes or gets taken advantage of in ways that his non-genius colleagues never would, simply because he doesn't know any better. To really drive the point home, the show pairs him up in a will-they-won't-they relationship with a paralegal (played by Meghan Merkel, who according to the tabloids is due to become God-Queen of Brittania any day now) who has years of experience and is probably all-around better lawyer material, but who can't manage to pass the entrance exams to law school and actually become one. 

Rather than being about a genius doing genius things (Mike's genius superpowers are actually fairly believable by TV standards, and they don't really come up all that often), the show is much more about an experienced lawyer taking a younger newbie under his wing, and that's where we get to Harvey Spector. 

While Suits doesn't fawn over Mike's intelligence, it absolutely fawns over Harvey's awesome rich-guy masculinity. He dates hot women! And he lives in a big fancy apartment that looks like a glass cube! And he drives cool cars! In the first season alone, there are multiple scenes where Harvey engages in impromptu trivia contests with other men over classic cars, rock music and sports. They're about five nanoseconds away from whipping their dicks out to compare sizes.

Harvey's character arc revolves around the fact that his bosses at the firm are reluctant to promote him to the upper echelons of lawyer-dom because he lacks compassion and only cares about his work (at least, theoretically; it seems like the actual reason he isn't promoted is because he keeps doing shady things like hiring Mike behind his managing partner's back and refuses to co-operate with people). This leads to endless, repetitive scenes where Harvey does something that clearly shows he actually cares about his clients after all, then insists he was only doing it for the good of the firm. And then he gets in a cool car, delivers a pithy quip, and drives away while 90s-era cheese-rock plays. 

Oh yeah, the quips. The show's writers apparently attended the Joss Whedon School of Dialogue, with the result that a good third of every episode consists of characters making Sick Burns or literally stopping in their tracks to trade acidic barbs. Sometimes they do movie quotes. This show really likes movie quotes.

I'm not sure if I'm actually going to watch all six seasons of Suits. Watching it is kind of like eating fast food--it seems like a good idea up until you actually do it, and then you really need to let some time pass so you can trick yourself into doing it again. But if you're in the mood for a breezy, un-challenging dramedy that isn't completely stupid, there's worse things you could put on. 

Next up is another Kvothe post, y'all! Please be patient with me while I slowly adjust to my new medication.