The Shades of Grey that Make Harvey Specter Fascinating

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The Shades of Grey that Make Harvey Specter Fascinating

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

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he final season of Suits airs today. For my generation that grew up on a steady diet of legal dramas like Ally Mcbeal and Boston Legal, Suits felt like a natural progression when it premiered back in 2011. Suits has every ingredient that makes for a edge-of-the-seat legal drama – nail-biting twists and the thrill of cases, engrossing internal politics, the jostle for whose name goes up on the wall as partner, and rousing monologues. Yet there is one delicious detail that separates it from all other legal dramas: Harvey Specter, played to perfection by Gabriel Macht. The allure of this brooding, basketball-loving, Tom Ford-donning lawyer was such that everyone, right from my teenage niece to my eldest sister, heaves a deep sigh whenever he appears on screen.

Harvey_Specter

There is one delicious detail that separates it from all other legal dramas: Harvey Specter, played to perfection by Gabriel Macht.

Untitled Korsh Company/ Hypnotic Films & Television/ Universal Cable Productions/ Open 4 Business Productions

Like every fan of Suits, I vividly remember when I was introduced to Harvey. It was a time when BlackBerry ruled our hearts and Netflix was yet to rule our minds. At that time, I found myself crushing over Dexter Morgan from Dexter, and a worried cousin casually mentioned that I should, perhaps, look at some not-so-morbid fictional men to shower my love on. She suggested Suits, I brushed it aside. When a colleague swooned over Harvey Specter at work, I meekly registered the name but it was only when I was home for a summer break that I actually acted on their suggestion and embraced Harvey of the slicked-back hair and the sharpest suits. 

It’s exactly this refreshing fact – that it is impossible to box him in one category – that makes him so irresistible.

Suits opened with arguably, the greatest revelation of Harvey’s character: that he wasn’t averse to hiring a fraud and taking him under his wing. That he valued talent over a degree. And even when he is calculating and conniving, not beyond arm-twisting an opponent or a client, he is always loyal. Loyal to his relationship with his protégé, Mike Ross; his boss, Jessica Pearson; his clients; and over and above all, his loyalty to his firm. His adoration for his father and the utter disdain for his cheating mother, too, reveal that he is a conflicted person who is haunted by his past. The thing about Harvey is that he isn’t your stock black-and-white character and his grey shades in every season in the last eight years have just elevated our understanding of him. It humanises him, without justifying his flaws and weaknesses. More shows need to ask that of their leads. It’s exactly this refreshing fact – that it is impossible to box him in one category – that makes him so irresistible. 

Harvey_Specter

Suits opened with arguably, the greatest revelation of Harvey’s character: that he wasn’t averse to hiring a fraud and taking him under his wing.

Untitled Korsh Company/ Hypnotic Films & Television/ Universal Cable Productions/ Open 4 Business Productions

Yet, ask any Harvey fan and they’ll unanimously tell you that the icing on the cake has always been his crackling chemistry with his secretary, Donna. Whether both of them will eventually find a happily-ever-after with each other remains to be seen, it still represents the importance of having the right kind of people in your team. But if you put a gun to my head and ask me to recount one scene that I can endlessly replay, it’ll have to be that moment toward the end of Harvey and Dana Scott’s affair. When he tells her, “I am seeing someone (he refers to a therapist) and if I ever get out of it in one piece, I want to know if it’s okay to call you again”, it revealed a softer side of a cold-hearted lawyer. The thing about Harvey is that he shows us that you might have graduated from Harvard, made partner at one of the top law firms in New York, purchased a palatial bachelor pad, brought home the big bucks, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have it all. In Suits, Harvey makes us realise that sometimes machismo and bravado is a pretense at best, and that all of us have our own sets of vulnerabilities. Maybe, doing the right thing means acknowledging them. 

It might sound silly but I feel like I grew up with Harvey Specter. So forgive me if I can’t process the fact that this will be the last time I will see him sit down in his office with the finest scotch in hand, surrounded by signed basketballs, and an enviable LP collection. To paraphrase one of his evergreen catchphrases, anyone can do his job, but no one can be him.

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