A while back, there was an opinion piece on why Suits will never win a Best Drama Series Emmy. (This piece was written also before the Emmy nominations were handed out, and, sure enough, Suits was not nominated for anything.) Matt Zoller Seitz, the writer of the article, suggested that the show’s humorous approach, as well as it being on USA rather than, say, AMC, is causing the show to be shut out of the major drama categories at the Emmys.
Saying Suits will never win an Emmy because of the network it’s on is fallacious, especially in the wake of Political Animals. Political Animals, if you missed it, was a limited TV event about a female politician and her family. It also aired on Sunday nights on…USA. Its competition included (but isn’t limited to) True Blood and Breaking Bad. Ratings-wise on USA, this show had no chance against Suits, one of the top-rated shows on the network last summer (and currently this summer, but it’s too soon to tell if its numbers are going to drop severely or not like network-mate Burn Notice), let alone fare like True Blood and Breaking Bad on other networks. The poor ratings of Political Animals ensured that it wouldn’t be extended to past its limited series order. However, Political Animals garnered five nominations for awards pertaining to miniseries, including Outstanding Miniseries or Movie, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie. Certainly being on USA isn’t holding Suits back from Emmy nominations.
Then there’s Scandal. Scandal is far from a “serious” drama like the rest of the Best Drama Series nominees (Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Homeland, Downton Abbey and new entrant House of Cards). It’s a primetime soap opera. More than likely, the show itself won’t be nominated for a drama Emmy because of its format. And yet Kerry Washington and Dan Bucatinsky were nominated for drama acting awards for Scandal. If Washington and Bucatinsky can be nominated for Emmys, then the Suits cast could be nominated for major Emmys.
Suits is an enjoyable show. At this moment, I feel it’s the strongest original show (that’s not a reality show like The Moment or Summer Camp) on USA. The show’s format is similar to other USA shows like Burn Notice, White Collar and Royal Pains: it’s centered on a guy that can do amazing things. In Suits’ case, one of the leads, Mike Ross, knows a lot about legal matters and is faking it for a law firm that prides itself on picking lawyers exclusively from a Harvard Law School talent pool. What also makes the show work is that secret also affects several of the people at the law firm, from Harvey Specter, the lawyer he assists, to Jessica Pearson, the head of the law firm. The show is also about the ups and downs of said law firm, from the return of one of the former partners of the firm to the firm being merged with another British law firm. Story-wise, unlike, say, Burn Notice, this isn’t a story about the guy that can do wonderful things. Suits is the story about how the guy that can do wonderful things and how his secret could potentially be the downfall of a once-proud law firm.
But in the end, that’s all Suits is—the story about the guy that can do wonderful things and his secret. It’s not a show like Mad Men or House of Cards that examines why the lead character does the things he does, and on top of it, explores other characters and why they do the things they do. And yes, although the casting staff does pick actors that have done other notable projects such as Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln and Game of Thrones for the show (to the point that the latter factoid was used in some of the show’s marketing this season), overall this show’s acting is not strong or memorable enough to take on the Bryan Cranstons and Claire Danes of the TV acting world.
Like Seitz says, Suits has an obsession with fashion, smart writing and does hire its share of people that have worked on Emmy-award-winning shows. But regardless of the show being on USA, the show’s fashion obsession and its writing and casting choices does not make it a strong contender for an Emmy.