In the iconic Superman comic series and film, Clark Kent strips off his workplace attire to perform heroic acts. “Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive,” Superman has graced the American cultural psyche for decades because his physical powers, by the very definition of his name, exceed those of a normal human.
The television series Suits gives us a Superman for the modern era—only this time, the protagonist puts on his suit to kick epic ass. The very title of the show is a double entendre that references both the suave apparel of these legal warriors and their weapon of choice, the lawsuit. But in the realm of motions, briefs, and crisp, impeccable tailoring, the hero isn’t a guy who can outdo a bullet or a train. It’s a guy who can outdo a brain—most brains, actually.
The protagonist of the show, Mike Ross (played by Patrick J. Adams), is a genius with a photographic (aka “eidetic”) memory of every legal text he’s ever read. Anyone who has ever studied the LSAT for more than five minutes knows what a rather convenient talent this would be. In fact, Mike is so brilliant that his employers at a prominent New York law firm are willing to illegally overlook his lack of a degree of any kind.
That’s right: Mike has no college degree, no law degree, and a magically functioning brain that permits him to bypass the arduous hoops through which any normal aspiring lawyer would have to jump. Basically, he eats your life’s biggest struggles and achievements for breakfast.
The fact that we find such a character so compelling reveals a great deal about our insecurities vis-à-vis the legal career path. Law entails vast and complex content, wherein mastery of great volumes of material equates to being a more successful professional. In this line of work, the nightmare is of ignorance, of mental incapacity. Who hasn’t felt that fear during their LSAT studies?
Therein lies the satisfaction of watching Suits. It gives us an intellectual superhero who lacks precisely this fear of cognitive limitation. In doing so, the story allows us a respite from the banal and tiresome grind of good old-fashioned effort to grow and achieve.
“Perhaps I have to slave away to become massively impressive one day,” your brain says, “but at least for 42 minutes here and there, let’s imagine what it would be like if that weren’t an issue.”
We human beings are funny like that. Even though it does us no apparent good, we enjoy watching imaginary people rise above our limitations.
However, there is more value to Suits than mere escapism. Its very idealization of Mike’s mega-brain serves as a reminder that the majority of viewers do not, in fact, possess alike mega-brains. It may be a tough road ahead for those embarking on a legal education, but it’s not a road anyone travels alone. Remember that you are not weak or bad because you have to work hard to grow. You are just human like everyone else. Keep going.