Last month, tired of watching cable news shows between dinner and bedtime, I clicked on Netflix. As usual, I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. I just needed some relief from the stream of stupid news out of Florida, the terrible stories about killer heat waves, and God help us, the obsession with Hunter Biden’s laptop and custody issues.
As if summoned by a higher power to cheer me up, “Suits” suddenly appeared on my Netflix home screen.
Had I unconsciously wanted to see what Meghan — formerly Markle, now Duchess of Sussex — looked and acted like before she teamed up with Prince Harry and became the undeserved villain of British tabloids and Buckingham Palace conspirators everywhere?
Or was I manipulated by Netflix’s seductive algorithm to click on “Suits,” a USA Network series I never saw during its nine-season run, which ended in 2019, nor had ever particularly wanted to see?
It’s a mystery. But something is afoot. This week, the Washington Post described the long-defunct “Suits” as “the hit show of the summer.”
Its creator, Aaron Korsh, is bemused. “Never in a million years thought #Suits would be 3 of the top 7 seasons of TV,” he tweeted.
The series’ resurgent popularity has also raised questions about how actors, currently on strike demanding better deals, are compensated for reruns. “With the show pulling such huge numbers nearly four years after its finale,” reported the website Den of Geek, “many people have been wondering if the actors and writers will gain anything from the billions of views their show is bringing to these streaming services.”
I hope the residuals are pouring in, because I am addicted to “Suits,” a legal drama in the mold of the old “L.A. Law.” It features handsome men in beautifully tailored — yes — suits, women in skintight “office” attire teetering on sky-high stilettos, and witty, Aaron Sorkin-esque repartee.
“Suits,” in other words, is pure escapism.
Not much about it rings true to life, from Michael Ross, the gifted young con man with a heart of gold played by Patrick J. Adams, whose photographic memory allows him to masquerade as a Harvard Law graduate, to his mentor Harvey Specter, the slick, amoral senior partner played by Gabriel Macht whose world-class smirk perfectly befits a dude who never met a case he couldn’t win or a woman he couldn’t bed. (Is there a comic book superhero called “The Smirk”? If not, there should be.)
The women in “Suits” are spectacular — from the firm’s managing partner, Jessica Pearson, played by the statuesque Gina Torres, to Specter’s sexy and eternally loyal secretary, Donna Paulsen, played by Sarah Rafferty. And of course, there is the spunky paralegal-turned-law student Rachel Zane, played by Meghan Markle, whose knife-thin body is the perfect hanger for unforgivingly snug skirts and tops.
Blissfully, I am only on the second season, so there is enough “Suits” to last me to the end of summer. I understand from what I have read that, as the seasons go along, the cast as well as relationships change. But don’t give me any spoilers.
Markle, who left the show in 2017, is the breakout star of the series, though not in the typical Hollywood sense of the phrase.
After she coupled up with Prince Harry, she became famous in that most fractured fairy tale of ways and had to give up her successful acting career. You simply cannot be a working member of the British royal family and hold down an honest job at the same time. Nor can you, apparently, be a successful, divorced, outspoken biracial American career woman and thrive among the hierarchically ossified, stiff-upper-lip royal family.
In any case, after breaking with the Windsors, Harry and Meghan have had to mostly fend for themselves.
They inked rich deals with streaming services: a reported $100-million deal with Netflix for various documentaries and series, and a reported $20 million-plus deal with Spotify for podcasts and audio shows.
Spotify, whose stock spiked in 2020 on news that it had signed the semi-royals, dropped them three years later, leading to speculation that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had flopped.
The official line was that the two sides mutually parted ways, but industry insiders said that the couple just could not come up with enough good, executable ideas for podcasts or audio shows. Meghan’s primary effort, “Archetypes,” in which she interviewed famous people about the cultural forces and expectations that thwart women, met with some initial success, but it was not renewed by Spotify. As soon as the Spotify deal went south, negative stories the Sussexes began to circulate: She had not conducted all the series interviews herself; she and Harry, in the words of Spotify executive Bill Simmons, were “grifters.”
That’s a bit rich.
Companies that throw scads of money at people simply because they are famous and fascinating need to take some ownership of their decisions. Meghan and Harry have demonstrated that the world will eat up their personal stories and their troubles with the royal family; expecting them to bring a whole lot more than that to the creative table without a lot of help seems a stretch.
Netflix, on the other hand, has insisted its deal with the couple is still intact. Its six-part docuseries, “Harry and Meghan,” which chronicled their relationship from its inception to the move to California, was a success last year.
That was followed almost immediately by the release of Harry’s bridge burner of a memoir, “Spare,” an instant bestseller (the fastest selling nonfiction book of all time, according to Guinness World Records) that reportedly earned the prince a $20-million advance. Betting on Harry paid off for Penguin Random House. (A plug here for Harry’s ghostwriter, J.R. Moehringer, whose literary talents undeniably elevated the memoir.)
And despite rumors to the contrary, Netflix insists that Harry’s “Heart of Invictus” docuseries will debut this summer. The series follows a group of wounded war veterans from around the globe as they compete in the 2022 Invictus Games in The Hague. Harry founded the games in 2014 after serving in Afghanistan.
For most of the pop culture-conscious world, this is the summer of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer.” Both those films are fine ways to pass a few hours.
For me, though, this is the summer of “Suits.”
I’m talking about 134 42-minute episodes with no commercials, no former presidents, no Florida governors, no drug-scarred first families, no tortured analyses of the patriarchy and no atomic bombs.
Just fluff. These days, that’s my idea of heaven.