'Suits' up: Legal drama enjoys ratings boost this season

« Back to News

Kyla Brewer / TV Media
Patrick J. Adams and Meghan Markle star in "Suits"

Patrick J. Adams and Meghan Markle star in "Suits"

Summer TV schedules may be flooded with lighthearted comedy and frivolous reality TV shows, but one series is proving there's still a place for legal drama in prime time. 

Join lawyers Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht, "The Spirit," 2008) and Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams, "Weather Girl," 2009) as they take on cases in the Big Apple in a new episode of "Suits," airing Wednesday, Aug. 23, on USA Network. Created by Aaron Korsh, the ensemble drama also stars Sarah Rafferty ("All Things Valentine," 2016) as Donna Paulsen, Specter's former secretary and the newly minted COO of the Pearson Specter Litt law firm in Manhattan. Meghan Markle ("Fringe") portrays Ross's love interest, paralegal-turned-lawyer Rachel Zane. Rick Hoffman ("Jake in Progress") rounds out the cast as co-managing partner Louis Litt.

When the show began in June 2011, Specter hired college dropout Ross as a lawyer for his firm, even though he didn't have a law degree. Over the years, they worked together on cases and managed to keep the truth about Ross's lack of credentials under wraps. Eventually, Ross's secret was exposed and he was charged with fraud, landing him in jail in season 6. Not only did he manage to secure an early release, however, he also passed the Bar with Specter's help and became a legitimate lawyer.

Season 7 kicked off Wednesday, July 12, as Specter took on new challenges in the wake of Jessica's (Gina Torres, "Firefly") departure. This season, Ross has been working both corporate and pro bono cases. Zane has convinced Litt to allow her to take over responsibility for the associates while he nurses a broken heart. As for Paulsen, she's been enjoying her seat at the table.

"Suits" has been one of USA Network's highest rated shows in recent years, though the ratings took a dip during the last half of season 6, which ended in March. The show drew a little more than a million viewers for each of the final few episodes, but things were looking brighter by season 7's premiere, which pulled in 1.39 million viewers.

While some may attribute the current uptick in ratings to Markle's recent high-profile romance with Prince Harry, loyal fans of the series have been raving about the show for years, particularly about its realistic portrayal of the legal system. The entertainment industry has also recognized the series with a number of nominations for prestigious awards. "Suits" earned People's Choice Award nominations in 2015 and 2016, and Adams earned a nomination for a Screen Actors Guild Award in 2012.

Torres won a 2013 NHMC Impact Award for her work in the series, and fans will be happy to learn they may get to see Jessica Pearson reappear in prime time. The character left Pearson Specter Litt in season 6 when she followed her beau (D.B. Woodside, "24") to Chicago. Torres cited the challenges involved in filming in Toronto while her family was based in Los Angeles as the reason behind her decision to leave "Suits." In March, however, it was announced that the actress had inked a deal with Universal Cable Productions -- the studio behind "Suits" -- to develop a series featuring her beloved character.

Gabriel Macht as seen in "Suits"

Gabriel Macht as seen in "Suits"

In other news, "Suits" will mark a major TV milestone this season with its 100th episode, slated for Wednesday, Aug. 30. One hundred episodes is an important landmark in television, making "Suits" an attractive option for international buyers and online streaming services. So far, details about the 100th episode have been sparse, but we do know that series star Adams will step behind the camera to direct it.

Seven seasons is impressive, but if the current ratings boost continues, it could mean even more is in store for the Pearson Specter Litt family. Before the season began, there was some concern amongst viewers and critics that legitimizing Mike's role as a lawyer might eliminate the tension that's been a core part of the series from Day 1. But, so far at least, fans are still tuning in to watch the characters forge new paths. While many are lamenting the departure of Torres, Rafferty and Markle have stepped up as strong female forces in the series.

Rafferty, in particular, is poised to have a big impact this season. Fans have been clamoring for Paulsen and Specter to finally get together because of the will-they-won't-they relationship that's been bubbling beneath the surface for years. Known as "Darvey shippers," these fans have been very vocal about their desire to see Donna and Harvey couple up. Unfortunately, it looks as if Paulsen will have some competition when Specter pursues Dr. Paula Agard (Christina Cole, "Hex").

As always, the series will keep viewers guessing with edge-of-your-seat legal drama as the lawyers struggle to balance their personal and professional lives in season 7. Follow Specter and Ross as they lead the charge as two of the best lawyers in Manhattan in "Suits," airing Wednesday, Aug. 23, on USA Network, and don't forget to check out the show's 100th episode Wednesday, Aug. 30.