Sunday, April 12, 2015

Suits season 4 - legally boring

tv series review

The fourth season of Suits turned a legal drama into an emotional one

Legal dramas have a constant presence on television and their popularity is showing no signs of waning. Viewers tune in week after week to be entertained by the brickbat of legal minds as they try to outwit each other with their every move. USA Network’s Suits initially employed this tactic generously and effectively, creating a series that was entertaining despite not being particularly innovative. In its fourth season, however, the focus has shifted from intriguing cases to ego clashes and relationship dramas, and the result is significantly less engaging than before.

More people have become implicated in the felonious lie that drives Mike Ross’ (Patrick J. Adams) legal career, and protecting the secret becomes increasingly tricky for his mentor Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), Specter’s loyal secretary Donna (Sarah Rafferty) and Pearson Specter’s managing partner Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres). With their careers and reputations at stake, the lawyers face challenges from both within and outside the firm; a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation looms, while investor Charles Forstman (Eric Roberts), who has a history with Harvey, comes back into the picture to cause more trouble.

Meanwhile, the characters’ personal lives often come into focus; Mike has moved in with Rachel (Meghan Markle), who is now juggling work and law school, Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman) tries to win back Harvard placement official Sheila Sazs (Rachael Harris) and Jessica is seeing SEC Attorney Jeff Malone (DB Woodside). But the intersection of their personal and professional relationships inevitably leads to issues. Secrets cause friction, personalities clash and general melodrama ensues for most of the season, especially in the second half.

The show, however, is still impressive to look at, thanks to its attractive cast, their designer outfits and the fancy sets. But there isn’t much substance beneath its glossy surface. The acting talent has delivered consistent performances, but the characters they portray have become less appealing as the season has progressed. The protagonists are hard to root for; most of them are annoyingly smug and at times hypocritically self-righteous. The storylines are bland, their resolutions overly convenient, and the whole fraud premise, which was never quite as convincing as the show would have hoped, is starting to grate.

Viewers who prefer their legal dramas with more emphasis on drama, and have a higher tolerance for romantic banter, will probably like how Suits has evolved (plus fans of Louis Litt are particularly likely to enjoy his arc). For the rest of us though, the series would be better if it returned its focus to the legal twists and turns that made it so enjoyable to begin with.

- By Sameen Amer

Sunday Magazine, The Express Tribune - 12th April, 2015 *

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