“Oh, we can tease,” said a coy Sarah Rafferty when asked to reveal sneak peeks for the spring return of USA Network’s “Suits.” A screaming audience of UC Berkeley students packed into California Theatre on Tuesday night to watch the midseason premiere of “Suits” and engage in a live Q&A with Rafferty, who plays fiery secretary Donna Paulsen, and Rick Hoffman, who stars as Louis Litt, the quirky attorney everyone loves to hate.
In response to Rafferty’s promise of a tease, Hoffman leaned back as if to whisper in her ear, and in a surprising turn of events, smooched his co-star, consummating off-screen the flirtatious relationship between their respective characters. The kiss from the TV couple that could never be set the tone for a night dominated by two charismatic actors and a chaotic array of paraphernalia-hungry 20-somethings.
For one reason or another, “Suits” — a law drama centering on the trials and tribulations of the lawyers, paralegals and secretaries at a New York law firm — has spawned an ardent following among millennials.
The show had jumped the shark earlier last season, when the fictional firm Pearson Specter stumbled through a ridiculous legal battle through international territory, replete with alleged mass murderers and awkward British-American rivalries.
Thankfully, the early-season-three antics were resolved by the end of the midseason finale, and the episode screened at Tuesday night’s showing opened on a more stable Pearson Specter. Unfortunately, the show has returned to tired and traditional storylines (Will Mike’s secret finally hit the fan? Will Mike finally obtain retribution for his parents?) to rejuvenate the narrative.
Despite the show’s mediocre third season, the event, hosted by SUPERB and part of USA Network’s larger “Suits College Tour” — a marketing effort carting cast members around to various campuses to promote the show’s spring return — generated a turnout that had students lining up five-and-a-half hours prior to the start of the show.
Perhaps it’s the witty banter, the attractive leads and the generally positive charm of “Suits” that keeps fans loyal. A more obvious answer to the question of the show’s continued success is the allure of its characters, a fact that Hoffman himself can attest to. “At this point, the backdrop of the show could be anything. It’s how well developed the characters are that makes the show successful,” Hoffman told The Daily Californian. “Each character is identifiable to different people … If you look at any show that’s successful, it’s about the characters. It’s a formula that works.”
While Hoffman maintains similarities with his on-screen persona, he differs from his character in his extracurricular interests — Hoffman is a huge New York sports fan while Louis would prefer to spend a night at the ballet. Rafferty, meanwhile, is the embodiment of Donna. When asked how much of Donna’s sassiness was scripted, she jokingly replied, “None of it.”
Rafferty’s main preoccupations for the night were attempting to attain the SAT score of the average Cal student and making sure she Instagrammed the crowd. Despite the crowd’s raucous appraisals of Rafferty’s “hotness” and the perfect state of her hair, she was kind enough to keep reminding the audience, “Your parents are proud of you.”
If USA’s intention for the evening was to engender enthusiasm, their easy-going, talented and highly energetic cast members did their jobs. As for the actual show’s performance in the upcoming episodes, the believability and relatability of the “Suits’” storylines are questionable. Hoffman, though, promises otherwise. “You’re going to see some form of old-school Louis. There is going to be static.”
Contact Lynn Yu at [email protected].