I’m not going to spend a whole paragraph telling you what these shows are about…because to be honest there’s IMDb for that. What I am going to do is tell you why you should watch them.
Cutting right to the chase
As a self-proclaimed connoisseur of virtually all shows that are American and worth watching, these three shows have me wanting to shout on rooftops for these key reasons:
- Intelligent dialogues
- The witty delivery of these dialogues
- Fast-paced meaningful action
- Sufficiently meaty plots
- They tackle or are based on sectors of interest that many people on a usual day may find daunting, or of little or no interest to them – politics, news, law
- The characters are relatable, intelligent and their human flaws are realistic
- The fluidity & effortlessness with which humour and comedy are delivered
On this side of the Atlantic, Americans are renowned for a humour that pales in comparison to the British, which is why I have been so impressed with these three shows. The exhibition and delivery of dry wit in these programmes has defied that long-standing reputation for me. It’s not that there aren’t US shows that are witty(The Big Bang Theory), it is merely the way for me, these were the first shows where wit plays such a big part in plots that aren’t based on trivialities of life; the issues are political, corporate and the news. In fact, I’m beginning to believe that this is what the US does best. The only current UK show that I believe compares or even trumps these shows, is Sherlock Holmes. Regardless, for the first time ever, I have consistently found myself writhing with frustration at having to wait a whole seven days for the next episode of these shows, such is the impact of every episode, the emotional connection they make with their audience and the way they make you invest with the protagonists, the heroes and the anti-heroes.
Indeed, the quality is so high, missing a second of dialogue, is like missing half of a season. They are so densely packed with information, meaningful plot progression, and significant identifiers and clues that will be necessary to recollect to comprehend later plot developments, that it is imperative that you pay close attention. There’s actually no point watching these shows when you are tired; you’ll get nothing out of it and miss all you need to catch.
What I love about each
Creator: Shonda Rhimes of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice fame.
Focus: Political drama with a focus on Law and the scandal that brings them together
Characters to watch:
Olivia Pope – Main protagonist, highly respected, adored, fiercely loyal, pushes boundaries of the law.
Cyrus Beene – Chief Of Staff, President’s right-hand man, loyal, cunning
Seasons: 1(7 Eps)
I feel like this was my first foray into this genre of American show. I have a superhuman level of respect for Shonda Rhimes hence why I was very excited to see what Scandal would be like. My first encounter with it, after watching the first episode left me stunned, muddled, and wanting to watch more….immediately. The wit was immense, the fast-paced talking had me pausing the player and rewinding and listening to bits I missed, and the plot twists that developed were immense and unexpected. Olivia Pope’s ‘legal’ team is a liquorice all sorts mesh of characters each with their own weird quirks, secrets, and secret reason for the fierce loyalty they exhibit towards her. She in turn is like an idol to them who can do no wrong, never lose, never make a bad decision; she is just the epitome of greatness to them. She in turn is a leader confident in her abilities, unashamedly triumphant, pushes boundaries, is cunning and a former aide to the President – a potentially destructive can of worms which hangs over her life like a shadow. The season finale was one of the best I have ever seen. Admittedly for me, there was a lull for about two episodes and I almost considered ditching it, yet I persisted. I did not regret it. It was only 7 episodes long, which I think was a prudent choice by Rhimes; anything more would have dragged it out and diluted the impact of the storyline. The next season is rumoured to be 13 episodes.
Creator: Aaron Korsh
Focus: Legal drama focussing in particular on the relationship between an arrogant top attorney and senior partner in a law firm, and his associate with a eidetic memory who never took the bar exam
Characters to watch:
Harvey Specter – The senior partner, cocky, infuriating, has a soft spot rarely exhibited
Louis Litt – Junior partner, downtrodden, reviled, abused, cunning, legendary, clever, witty
Seasons: 2(12 Eps)
Suits is a fantastic legal drama which not only covers the prescriptive necessary intrigues, road-blocks, and contentions of a legal drama, but within all that, and what makes it stand out for me, is the sub-plot of the power struggles within the law firm. A standout character on that front is Louis, whose existence (despite being a fantastic lawyer) is barely respected in the firm by anyone senior. He is a legend. He’s a jealous sibling always trying to get one up, but never quite managing it. His tantrums are mean, taken out on the associates & spectacularly hilarious to watch. The dialogues in the show involving him are breathtakingly funny. The relationship between Mike and Harvey is also a key endearing part of the plot; for all his stubbornness, arrogance and displays of his superior knowledge, Harvey is a loyal mentor to Mike, a pain in the back to the firm’s owner, and totally formidable in a court of law; his foes despise and respect him.
Suits Season 2 Trailer
Creator: Aaron Sorkin
Focus: News drama
Characters to watch:
Will McAvoy – Key protagonist, award-winning and grouchy news anchor, respected yet despised by many, one of the top in his profession
MacKenzie McHale – Will’s producer, ex-girlfriend and general thorn in his side
Maggie Jordon – Associate producer, general hapless individual, clumsy, sharp, underrated, girlfriend to Will’s former executive producer Don Keefer
Seasons: 1(10 Eps)
Out of all the three shows, this is the champion of wit in terms of delivery, speed, relevance and how it complements the general plot. Will is is basically despised by those who do not know him, tolerated by those junior to him, and adored by those who know the real him. He is an anti-hero who is absolutely clueless about the impact he has on people and the world outside of the newsroom, and this is what makes his outbursts and dialogues even more hilarious. He has a permanent case of foot-and-mouth disease. His disdain for authority and MacKenzie creates a lot of tense moments involving shouting, yelling and banter across a fully staffed office. And this is what is so funny and key about The Newsroom; the open-plan office floor (more often than not fully-staffed) is literally the location of the disintegration of personal relationships and issues, professional beef, rivalries, embarrassing faux-pas, scandal, and moments of collective joy and achievement, all in front of a gripped audience – the staff. Doors are always slamming, people are always yelling, and the most inappropriate conversations are always being had in front of everyone; accidentally, or intentionally.
As you can see, most of these shows are not the typical length of 22 – 24 episodes, but I don’t believe that has taken away from them in any way shape or form. I think it would be extremely difficult for the writers to maintain the intensity of them for that period and I would prefer shorter seasons of higher quality. It also makes it easier to catch up with them; Suits Season 2 and The Newsroom Season 1 are currently in progress, but Scandal has finished. I am very happy to say that Scandal and The Newsroom have been renewed for a second season and I sincerely hope that the same levels of intensity, wit and drama will be maintained.