'Suits' found new life after its Netflix resurgence. How the legal drama is making its second time in the spotlight last.

"Suits" has seen a popular second life on Netflix. (Frank Ockenfels/USA/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)
"Suits" has seen a popular second life on Netflix. (Frank Ockenfels/USA/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)
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It’s been 10 months since Suits saw its popularity skyrocket following its debut on Netflix last June. The legal drama ended the year as the most-streamed show of 2023 with more than 57.7 billion minutes watched, cementing its reign atop Netflix’s streaming charts for the year.

Since then, the hour-long series — which ran for nine seasons from 2011-2019 on USA Network — has reaped the rewards in the aftermath of its second life. The streaming demand for Suits, which set numerous records for Netflix, has led to a slew of new projects as those involved with the show try to parlay its streaming success into, well, more of it.

“The amount of exposure that we’ve had since getting on Netflix, I never in a million years could have anticipated,” Suits creator Aaron Korsh told the Hollywood Reporter in August 2023 at the height of Suits’ streaming pandemonium. “Something was happening even before it started on Netflix, and then Netflix just took it and amplified it by a billion.”

What’s happened since the 'Suits' streaming explosion?

Suits starred Patrick J. Adams as Mike Ross, a genius with a photographic memory who lands a coveted gig working with Gabriel Macht’s Harvey Specter, a hotshot New York City attorney, at a prestigious corporate law firm. The only catch: Mike isn’t a licensed lawyer. The series was an entertaining look at the cutthroat legal world coupled with intriguing power dynamics and complex personal relationships.

Also starring in the drama were a pre-royal Meghan Markle as paralegal Rachel Zane, Sarah Rafferty as Harvey’s secretary Donna Paulsen, Gina Torres as partner Jessica Pearson and Rick Hoffman as lawyer Louis Litt. Adams and Markle exited after the seventh season, though the former returned to help wrap up the series. In the later seasons, Katherine Heigl, Dule Hill and Amanda Schull joined as regular cast members.

Amid renewed excitement surrounding the series, Korsh began working on a spin-off, Suits: L.A., which received a pilot order from NBC in February. It also made headlines for its casting choices and for moving the action from the Big Apple to sunny Southern California. Arrow alum Stephen Amell was tapped to play former New York federal prosecutor turned Los Angeles entertainment lawyer Ted Black, whose firm is facing a crisis at the start of the proposed series. None of the original stars are currently attached to the spin-off.

The majority of the original Suits cast, minus Markle, reunited at the Golden Globes, where Adams joked onstage about “having to wait so long to see your show get that kind of recognition.” Several of them — Macht, Adams, Torres, Rafferty and Hoffman — starred in high-profile Super Bowl ads for T-Mobile and e.l.f. Cosmetics.

Most recently, a rewatch podcast with SiriusXM hosted by Adams, who confessed to never watching Suits while he was making it, and his co-star Rafferty, was announced. “This summer, watching so many people discover it again, really made me realize I would be crazy not to go back and see what came out of those years and years of laughs and tears and early mornings and long nights,” Adams wrote on Instagram.

Damian Holbrook, a senior writer at TV Guide Magazine, told Yahoo Entertainment that the additional promotional push following Suits’ streaming explosion “definitely helped extend its shelf-life and generate even more interest.”

“There were surely folks who saw [the ads] during the Super Bowl and asked, ‘Who is this?’ and then found their way to it,” he said. “They have been masterful in keeping the Suits conversation alive for this much time. It helps that the cast has been so game about playing along without feeling desperate.”

How 'Suits' found success a second time

Ever since Suits reentered the pop culture conversation last summer, theories have abounded about why it was this law procedural that captured viewers’ attention at such an exponential rate. Was it the Meghan Markle effect, the timing of the Netflix drop, the show’s storytelling, its inherent coolness, a combination of all of these factors or something else? It doesn’t hurt that there’s more than 100 episodes to watch — 134 to be specific — for audiences to invest in with the promise of a beginning, middle and an end.

“Much of Suits’ surprise second wave of success was due to a perfect storm of activity around last year’s WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes,” Jason Lynch, curator at the Paley Center for Media, told Yahoo Entertainment. “With very few new scripted series released during those months, since talent was not available to help promote it, it was the perfect opportunity for Netflix, and the company’s algorithm, to point viewers toward a program with an extensive library that was ‘new’ to them, like Suits.”

Other than the Law & Order series, Lynch added, there aren’t that many recent examples of successful legal procedurals since the original run of Suits.

“So the show still feels relatively modern and current, compared to other past hit legal procedurals like L.A. Law, The Practice and Boston Legal,” he explained. “And, of course, no other legal procedurals feature a future royal in the cast, as Suits has with Meghan Markle. She might have been an initial draw for many Netflix subscribers and then the show was propulsive enough to keep them coming back for more episodes.”

Holbrook believed part of Suits’ continued appeal lies within the creative direction of the show, as well as the natural chemistry between its stars.

“The Donna and Harvey of it all certainly kept fans intrigued across the entire run, as did the inimitable chemistry between Gabriel and Patrick,” he said, adding that the show’s foray into more serialized arcs as it went on meant viewers “could drop in and get what was basically a full storyline — be it the British invasion, the battle for ownership, Mike's incarceration. These all felt self-contained within a serialized show, and that makes it eminently bingeable.”

“But more than anything, it was the characters — leading, supporting and even recurring — who owned viewers,” Holbrook suggested. “We cared about these people, disagreed with their choices, respected their intelligence, and we wanted the best for them. Korsh created people who felt aspirational and relatable, and the ensemble couldn't have been better cast.”

How will a ‘Suits’ spin-off compare?

If the Suits offshoot, Suits: L.A., becomes a full-fledged series at NBC, it will likely face a few hurdles if it wants to reach the bar set by the original.

Suits is funny, heartfelt, cool and intricate. These are not things you usually find in the same room, much less by actors who just clicked,” Holbrook said, likening Macht and Adams’s relationship to that of Butch and Sundance, which “you cannot recreate by force.” The writing needs to be “as smart, fast and sophisticated as the original.” (Korsh is reteaming with former Suits executive producers David Bartis, Doug Liman and Gene Klein for the spin-off.)

“The biggest challenge is that, as of yet, the Suits spin-off does not have any of the original cast members attached to participate,” Lynch added. “And it remains to be seen whether the IP [intellectual property] itself is enough of a draw for viewers.”