Whether you still haven't started Suits -- or just haven't had the chance to catch up to Season 8 -- well, let's be honest, that's plain unacceptable. Fortunately, we have all the info you need to jump into USA Network's sexy, smart, and seriously funny legal drama -- and finally learn what Harvard, mahjong, can openers, mudding, and pretty much every famous movie quote ever have in common...
What’s It All About: The members of a fast-paced Manhattan law firm work big-money cases and navigate the cutthroat world of corporate law. Along the way they win clients and chase dreams, fight with foes and friends alike, deal with love and loss, and learn that in life, as in the legal system, success depends on the risks you’re willing to take.
Where To See It: The first half of Season 8 is available to stream at USANetwork.com and in the USA App. The first seven seasons are available to stream on Amazon Prime, and all eight seasons are available to purchase on FandangoNOW, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, and XBox.
How Long It Will Take: 118 Episodes at about 44 minutes apiece, or just a little under four days if you only budget a couple hours a night for sleeping. A little too hardcore? You have might have a point, better to watch all eight seasons over the course of a month and maintain a grip on your sanity (and social life).
Why You’ll Love It: Suits may be billed as a legal drama but it nimbly hits multiple pleasure centers by adding a generous dash of buddy comedy (the team kicking ass, taking names and trading movie quotes), a heaping helping of soapy corporate intrigue (Backstabbing! Power grabs! Late night rooftop tete-a-tetes!), a few pinches of romance (there’s so much will they/won’t they that you may not be able to stand it -- in the best way) and seasoning it all with a liberal dose of lifestyle porn (the clothes! the cars! the apartments!). Of course, the whole meal wouldn’t go down without the immensely talented cast. The fantastic Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adams get top billing as Harvey Specter and Mike Ross in the bulk of the episodes, but Gina Torres, Sarah Rafferty, Rick Hoffman, Meghan Markle, Wendell Pierce, Amanda Schull, and new additions Dulé Hill and Katherine Heigl all take turns stealing scenes (and viewers’ hearts) as their co-workers and confidants. And that’s to say nothing of the long list of familiar faces like Chi McBride, Margo Martindale, Abigail Spencer, Rachael Harris, Gary Cole, Neal McDonough and many, many more who stop by the firm to either help or hinder our favorite team of lawyers.
The Essential Episodes: Suits is so good and so much fun from top to bottom that we think you’d be crazy to only pick a few episodes (especially after the first season, when the show starts to move away from the case of the week format and starts to focus on more serialized storytelling). But if we simply must choose the best of the best, these are a good place to start:
Season 1: Episode 1, “Pilot”
Right from the top, Suits feels fully formed (a rare feat for a television pilot) and it doesn’t take long to draw viewers in. And yes, obviously it would be silly to miss the episode that sets up the entire premise of the show, but if you skip the pilot you’ll also miss out on Harvey Specter’s masterful dismantling of a bullying client -- one of the great character intros of the modern TV era.
Season 1: Episode 7, “Play The Man”
Mike takes part in the firm’s annual mock trial but his photographic memory can’t help him navigate office politics, while Harvey faces off against his old flame Dana Scott (Abigail Spencer) in a merger negotiation. Seeing Mike get tripped up by the trial is good fun, and watching Sarah Rafferty steal all her scenes as Donna (especially her teary cross-examination in mock court) is a hoot, but the fizzy interplay between Harvey and “Scottie” is the stuff of TV heaven. We also get to see that, for all his Esquire sheen and “best closer in the city” bravado, Harvey’s relationship with women is complicated, a can of worms that will be explored more fully as the show progresses.
Season 2: Episode 3, “Meet The New Boss”
The second season sees a subtle shift from a process-oriented case-of-the-week approach to serialized storylines and a focus on inter-office gamesmanship. David Costibile gets ample opportunity to smile and scheme as Daniel Hardman, a newly-returned managing partner with plans of seizing back control of his firm. The best part of the episode, though, may be Louis Litt connecting with Sheila Sazs and teaching the associate pool a lesson about hard work. This is where Louis comes into his own as a character who can carry a storyline.
Season 2: Episodes 7-10, “Sucker Punch”, “Rewind”, “Asterisk” and “High Noon”
This four-episode run, featuring the culmination of Daniel Hardman’s power grab, represents one of the high points in the series. Highlights, in no particular order, are Donna and Louis strutting through the halls of the firm to the disco beats of "Disco Inferno," Harvey slugging it out in the boxing ring with his frequent nemesis Travis Tanner (Eric Close), Mike and Harvey toking up and getting the munchies, and a flashback to a time when Louis proudly wore braces in the office. Fun as those moments are, the true strength of these episodes lies in the more quietly devastating moments, like Louis’s brutal cross-examination of Donna during an in-house trial run, or a traumatic event that, without giving too much away, sends Mike into a tailspin, as well as a subtle exploration of how the team’s common goals are often undermined by their individual selfish impulses.
Season 2: Episode 16, “War”
Even if it didn’t improve an already great season by doubling down on the inter-firm maneuvering, even if it didn’t feature a deliciously droll performance from Conleth Hill (Game of Thrones’ Lord Varys) as Edward Darby, and even if it didn’t have Louis’s hilarious rivalry with his British counterpart, the persnickety Nigel Nesbitt (Adam Godley), this episode would still be a stone cold classic for what happens in that copy room at the end. We’ve said all that we can say…
Season 3: Episode 4, “Conflict Of Interest”
With a new managing partner installed after a merger with a big British firm, Harvey and Jessica find themselves working at cross purposes during the lead-up to the murder trial of an oil company executive. The big news in this episode is that Donna is being chased by a suave new suitor, and their courtship is just delicious.
Season 3: Episodes 11-14, “Buried Secrets,” “Yesterday’s Gone,” “ Moot Point” and “Heartburn”
Another great late-season run for Suits, these episodes pause to take emotional stock of the characters after the hustle of the big murder case. The episode where Louis deals with the fallout from a health scare is particularly poignant, but just as affecting is the slow realization that Harvey and Scotty’s relationship may not be built to last.
Season 4: Episode 1, “One-Two-Three Go…”
After the big shakeups at the end of Season 3, this episode quickly establishes the new normal and kicks the fourth season off in the Suits-iest way possible -- that is, nearly all our mainstays hopping into well-appointed beds with someone sexy or hopping out of gleaming cars in jealousy-inducing ensembles to a propulsive soundtrack. From there we get to see Mike exploring a new career opportunity that will put him into direct conflict with Harvey, Jessica trying to balance her place as a powerful woman with the new love in her life, and the arrival of a figure from Rachel’s past who will put a kink in her blossoming romance with Mike. This season will go on to explore the emotional lives of the characters even more than seasons past.
Season 4: Episode 10 “This Is Rome”
After a run of episodes that threatened to tear the characters apart before bringing them back together under one roof, “This Is Rome” serves as a final gut-punch by taking the character who had in many ways become the emotional heart of the show, Louis, and putting him through the ringer before essentially making him give in to all his worst impulses and break bad. Heavy on the drama, you won’t be able to tear yourself away from the final 10 minutes.
Season 4: Episode 13 “Fork In The Road”
Another in the line of the flashback episodes that Suits trots out every season, this one also serves as a sort of soft reset towards status quo after Louis’s turn towards arch-villainy. Harvey tricks Louis and Mike into taking a road trip with him in order to force them to bury the hatchet. Things get testy before they get better, but we could watch a whole season of this threesome’s car ride banter.
Season 5: Episode 10 “Faith”
Season 5 doubled down on the drama, as Harvey went to therapy to deal with his myriad Mommy-and-Daddy issues and Mike was forced to finally consider the true price of keeping his secret. This episode was particularly meaty, as Harvey and Mike both wrestled with big decisions while the rest of the team fought a desperate battle against a new player within the firm and an old foe.
Season 5: Episodes 15 and 16 “Tick Tock” and “25th Hour”
By the end of Season 5, Suits had gone through a number of subtle structural and tonal shifts, but the one constant was always the question of whether Mike’s secret would finally catch up with him. To heighten the drama, the show brought in the team’s most formidable opponent to date, no-nonsense federal prosecutor Anita Gibbs. The whole back half of the season should be required viewing, if for nothing more than the suspense of watching Gibbs keep Mike, Harvey and the rest of the team on their toes, but the final two episodes are quietly devastating in their exploration of the feelings of guilt and responsibility shouldered by everyone who shared in Mike’s crime. Mike may have been the one fighting for his future, but the entire firm seemed to have their souls on the line.
Season 6: Episode 1, “To Trouble”
While Mike descends into hell (not literally -- it’s just that to say more would be a major spoiler) the members of Pearson Specter Litt deal with the fallout from Mike’s secret being laid bare, and grapple with the questions of what it will take to survive. And if you think that sounds unbearably heavy, well, just know that this episode features an all time classic scene of Harvey, Jessica, and Louis “smoking the peace pipe” and making some truly ridiculous talk about “premature mudifications". Not to be missed!
Season 6: Episode 10, “P.S.L.”
While much of season six dealt with characters fighting for survival (whether it was survival of the firm, or in Mike’s case, very literally fighting for his life), it also laid the groundwork for two very important developments: Rachel Zane’s evolution from underachieving paralegal to ass-kicking lawyer, and Jessica Pearson’s moral awakening. This episode, which deals with the culmination of Rachel and Jessica’s fight to exonerate a death row inmate, set the stage for what was to come next.
Season 7: Episode 2, “The Statue”
If season 6 was about dealing with the aftermath of a tragedy, season 7 is all about trying to move on -- in love, in life, and especially in work -- when the past keeps tripping you up. This episode not only marks the first appearances of two characters that will become regular fixtures (those would be Louis’s long-suffering therapist, Dr. Lipschitz, and soon-to-be new team member Alex Williams), it also marks a big victory for Donna who, after realizing she needs more out of her life that being an executive assistant, finally goes after what she wants.
Season 7: Episodes 14 - 16 “Pulling The Goalie”, “ Tiny Violin” and “Good-Bye”
By now it should be no surprise that Suits shines in the back season, and this emotional three-episode run is no exception, both tying up the loose ends of many ongoing sagas and hinting at a new direction for the firm. The highlights are almost too many to list, but we’ll try: Harvey heading to Chicago to help Jessica out of a jam; Louis in a lawyers duel for the hand of his true love; Donna coming into her own in her new position; the team pulling together to fight a plot against the firm; a big opportunity for both Mike and Rachel; an unlikely merger; and a wedding seven seasons in the making. Keep the hankies close!
Season 8: Episode 1, “Right Hand Man”
The ink may have dried on a merger with Robert Zane, but the question of how, exactly, the firm is going to be run is far from settled, and it doesn’t take long before the same old back-stabbing and power-grabbing begins. The big news in this episode is all about the arrival of Samantha Wheeler (played by Katherine Heigl), Robert’s shit-talking, dirt-digging right hand who never backs down from a fight, and who rubs everyone the wrong way the second she steps in the door.
Season 8: Episode 10, “Managing Partner”
Alex Williams and Sam Wheeler finally get the fight they’ve been itching for all season, but it’s the long-simmering tension between Robert and Harvey that threatens to tear the new firm apart before it’s had time to come together. Meanwhile, Louis makes a big decision about his future, but if you think you know how this one ends, you’re in for a surprise!
Think you're ready to binge some Suits? There's no time like the present! The midseason premiere airs Wednesday, Jan. 25! This Official 2019 Louis Litt calendar will help you count down the days...