If you've been on Netflix recently, then chances are you've come across Suits, which just started streaming on the platform in June 2023.
Suits follows Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), who despite being a college dropout and never attending law school, is hired by attorney Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) after Harvey sees his talent.
The series originally ran from 2011 to 2019 on the USA Network, and consisted of nine seasons and 134 episodes. The show also earned Patrick J. Adams a SAG nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series in 2012.
While a lot of people, like me, watched Suits during its original run on network TV, the show notably reached more notoriety because of Meghan Markle, who starred on the show for seven seasons as Rachel Zane prior to her marriage to Prince Harry.
Now, because of streaming, a whole new fanbase has found Suits, and the numbers for how many people are watching it are absolutely staggering.
Suits is currently streaming on both Netflix and Peacock, with the show recently finding a lot of success since hitting Netflix. In its first week on Netflix (July 26 to July 2), Suits had 3.14 billion minutes of watch time, according to Nielsen, across both streaming platforms.
Since Suits began streaming on Netflix and broke the first week viewing record, it has gone on to beat itself, and as of Aug. 10, the show has reportedly tallied over 12.8 billion minutes viewed between Netflix and Peacock in the last four weeks.
And, Nielsen predicts that this won't be the peak of Suits' streaming dominance. The show is expected to stay in the top 10 streaming programs for a while because, as of right now, a lot of the viewing is centered on the early seasons, with people just starting to binge watch the nine-season series.
The success of Suits is calling attention to some big TV trends, like it seems viewers still clamor for procedural, network TV shows, but most importantly, it's highlighting why the Writers Guild of America (and SAG-AFTRA) strikes are currently happening and why they are so essential.
One of the largest points of conversation for both current Hollywood strikes is residuals for streaming platforms, and how little both writers and actors are being paid for their work to live on streaming sites.
To highlight why the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes are important, writer Ethan Drogin penned an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times where he called out how little he (and other writers) made off of Suits streaming last quarter, thus using a very current example of how the residual model for streaming isn't compensating creatives fairly.
Ethan was a writer on Suits, as well as a producer. Over the course of nine seasons, he wrote 16 episodes of the series, which is now one of the biggest streaming successes.
"When you write for a show that becomes an unprecedented success, there is no such windfall. There is only a check for $259.71," Ethan wrote in his piece for the LA Times.
He continued, saying, "$259.71: That’s how much the Suits episode I wrote, 'Identity Crisis' [Season 1, Episode 8], earned last quarter in streaming residuals."
"All together, NBCUniversal paid the six original Suits writers less than $3,000 last quarter to stream our 11 Season 1 episodes on two platforms," he added.
Ethan continued, saying how it's "gratifying" that Suits has now found such widespread success and how "every writer and actor hopes their work will endure," however, the money writers and actors are receiving over their work being beloved by fans can barely cover their rent.
Continuing his piece, Ethan talked about how Suits was such a collaborative effort, as are most TV shows and jobs in general, calling attention to another point of the WGA strike involving "mini rooms," a practice where streamers will shrink the number of writers that would typically be in a writers room and hire them for short-term work, resulting in lower wages and shorter contracts.
He wrote, "Aaron Korsh, the creator of Suits, worked for two years to craft a compelling pilot and made all the big decisions that guided everything we did. But a mock trial episode [Season 1, Episode 7] that truly elevated the series came from Erica Lipez, the sixth writer hired."
"Without Lipez’s contributions, there would still be a show. Without any three of us, there would still be a show. But it wouldn’t be Suits."
As someone who loves TV, none of my favorite characters and storylines would exist without the hard work of the writers and actors who create and bring them to life. The recent streaming success of Suits is further highlighting how viewers will gravitate toward strong stories, characters, and more, and we need the writers and actors to be compensated fairly for their work we love so much.
You can read Ethan's full op-ed for the Los Angeles Times here. And you can find out more about the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes here and here.