Success of "Suits" on Netflix Overshadowed by Writers' Struggles
The cases of Patrick J. Adams, Gabriel Macht, and Meghan Markle are back in the spotlight, but the writers are not happy.
Among all the unexpected things we didn't expect to see recently, amid writer strikes and underwhelming premieres, the audience has made its verdict. The current sensation is not a new release; on the contrary, it's a legal drama that ended its run 4 years ago on the USA Network: "Suits."
In recent weeks, the series starring Patrick J. Adams and Gabriel Macht started to climb the global rankings and, above all, in the USA, becoming the most-watched "acquired" series on Netflix.
Recently, they reported that in the second week of July, "Suits" had a record-breaking 3.7 billion minutes watched in just one week, across Netflix and Peacock combined. That's more than double the viewership of an original platform series.
An overwhelming success that contrasts with one of the reasons why Hollywood writers are on strike: residuals that don't seem satisfactory given the metrics. The core team of six "Suits" writers received a compensation of $3,000 in the last quarter.
Furthermore, in an opinion article, Ethan Drogin, a writer for several episodes of the series, revealed he received a check for $259.71 in residuals for the episode "Identity Crisis" (1x08). While he acknowledges they were lucky, what bothers him is the fact that even with this popularity, the compensation is inadequate:
"Entertainment executives argue that they're offering historic raises to writers. The problem is that even a 100% raise on a $259.71 salary doesn't come close to covering most people's rent. Even in the best case scenario—and 'Suits' definitely is—the streaming model simply doesn't provide incentives for writers and actors, nor a correlation between results and compensation."
"I have to sell my house": Actor slams Disney CEO and supports Hollywood actors' strike Additionally, he reminds us that the strike is not only about residuals compensation but also about the precarious way streaming platforms assemble series, with these "mini-writers' rooms" and a model that diverges (for the worse) from what has been done in traditional US television:
"In recent years, streamers have put downward pressure on the number of writer-producers working on series and have pushed novice and mid-career writers away from the selection, production, and editing processes. In 'Suits,' writers were involved in every stage of their episodes, contributing to the quality of the series. That rarely happens now."
WEAR A SUIT Debuting in 2011 and boasting nine seasons, "Suits" follows the story of a man with photographic memory who, despite not being a lawyer, earns money by taking the bar exam for others. After an incident, he crosses paths with a partner at a prestigious law firm who, impressed by his knowledge, decides to hire him. What they're hiding is that he was actually expelled from law school.
This legal drama is a reminder of how conventional television worked in the US until recently and how this model is actually much more beneficial than the current one. After the official TV season (September to May), spring and summer were the times when "minority" channels and basic cable channels launched their fiction offerings.
Channels like TNT or USA Network always had something new and light to entertain the audience during these months. In this sense, we could say that "Suits" is one of those great "summer" series.