New summer series rarely result in any Emmy-caliber series, and this summer has been no exception. It’s a season for fun, entertaining new television that doesn’t require too much thought. Sometimes — perhaps even often — this leads to series that are just plain dumb. But once in a while a new summer show comes along that manages to be lighthearted, fun and easy to understand while still being pretty smart. Enter “Suits,” on USA.
Thursdays at 10 p.m.
“Suits” tells the story of lawyers Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht, “Love and Other Drugs”) and Mike Ross (a true breakout role for actor Patrick J. Adams). Specter is a veteran in his Harvard-exclusive firm, and has a bad boy reputation which he works very hard to uphold. Ross is some kid who’s really good at remembering everything he reads. He didn’t go to Harvard Law and he doesn’t really know what he’s doing, but he’s eager and incredibly intelligent. He might have made something of himself had he not gotten mixed up with his rich-via-pot-dealing best friend. (The show was clearly written with a harder drug being dealt, but had to get toned down for USA, which makes the whole thing unintentionally hilarious.)
The two leads carry the show well, delivering their banter expertly. Adams especially manages to make Ross always eager and tries to impress without it becoming annoying, which is not an easy feat. Meanwhile, Macht has the whole “I act like I don’t care but I really do” shtick down, though the show’s scripts have him playing that card perhaps a bit too often.
The series’ structure itself is greatly appealing as well. There are essentially two “cases” each week: one for Ross and one for Specter. Sometimes these manifest themselves as truly separate cases, or sometimes they are different facets of the same case. Still, there are strong, obvious parallels between how the leads handle similar situations that highlight the strength of their individual characters as well as their chemistry as a duo.
It is also refreshing that the series’ villain lurks within the firm. Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman, “Samantha Who?”) is a junior partner who oversees the new associates, of which Ross is the emerging shining star. Litt’s character is without a doubt ridiculous. He goes beyond being a villain caricature straight to being cartoon-like with his facial expressions and body language. Yet somehow this actually works all the better. With such an over-the-top hero in Specter, with his nonchalant gallivanting and his general cool, you need a nemesis for him on the exact opposite end of the spectrum — paranoid, elitist and bitter without cause.
Through strong writing that manifests itself in clever banter and unexpected legal turns, paired with acting that makes the most out of every line and character, “Suits” manages to break from the summer lull in a big way. Are there too many jokes about the quality of the suits the characters wear? Certainly yes. Do the characters sometimes make plot-swerving mistakes that men of their intellect probably wouldn’t make? Also yes. But these flaws are not enough to bring down a show that’s usually so undeniably, shamelessly smart.