There are many moments of reckoning in the life of a TV show – the initial pick-up, the second season opener, every mid-season lull. Season four, however, is perhaps the trickiest of all. At this point, a show has long-since established its core, loyal audience, but needs to re-invent itself in some way to keep that audience from getting bored, and widen it to include new viewers. USA Network seem confident in the ability of the creative team behind Suits to succeed in this moment of truth, however, and has renewed the show for a fifth season.
When it first appeared on the schedules in 2011, Suits was a show focused on Mike (Patrick J. Adams) – a gifted college drop-out with a self-generated career taking exams for other people. After foiling a sting operation designed to entrap his best friend – whose own career path of drug-dealing is inevitably doomed – Mike is hired by New York lawyer Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), who spots Mike’s talents and pretends he is a Harvard Law graduate, in order to harness those skills.
While the initial hook of the show was the ‘big secret’ (Mike’s lack of professional qualifications), the fanbase soon built around an appreciation of the relationships woven through the drama – with Mike constantly becoming emotionally invested in his clients, while Harvey maintains a cool detachment; Mike becoming romantically involved with his best friend’s ex, while developing a ‘will-they-won’t-they’ thing with a paralegal in the office; jealous colleagues becoming suspicious of Mike and his history.
Placing the emphasis on the relationships between the characters allows the situations in which they find themselves to shift radically, keeping the show fresh, but anchored by familiar interaction. It’s a winning strategy that worked well for shows such as 24 and Prison Break, and it seems to have achieved the same for Suits.
USA Network President, Chris McCumber summed up the appeal of the show perfectly:
“Suits continues to fire on all cylinders, delivering provocative storytelling and complex characters that viewers can’t get enough of.”
The fifth season order of Suits is for 16 episodes – matching the previous three seasons. Such a commitment indicates the belief the network has in the ongoing quality of the show – something viewers can check out for themselves when it hits the small screen in 2015.