‘Suits’ Never Gave Rachel Enough To Do Beyond Being a Girlfriend

The Big Picture

  • Rachel Zane’s potential as a multidimensional character is largely untapped in Suits, as her storyline revolves primarily around her romantic involvement with Mike Ross.
  • The show fails to explore Rachel’s relationships with other characters, such as her friendship with Donna Paulsen, which could have offered a fresh perspective on her character.
  • Suits misses the opportunity to delve into Rachel’s family background, leaving many unanswered questions about her relationship with her father and her mother’s influence on her choices.


Suits has captivated audiences with its intricate plots and well-crafted characters, setting a streaming record years after it ended. Amidst its dynamic ensemble, a prominent figure — Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle) seems to have been relegated to a narrative that rarely extends beyond her romantic involvement with Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams). The show presents gripping legal battles and complex interpersonal relationships but Rachel’s potential as a multidimensional character remains largely untapped.

Suits TV Show Poster

Suits

On the run from a drug deal gone bad, brilliant college dropout Mike Ross finds himself working with Harvey Specter, one of New York City’s best lawyers.

Release Date
June 23, 2011

Creator
Aaron Korsh

Genres
Drama , Comedy

Rating
TV-14

Seasons
9


Meghan Markle’s Character Had Potential Beyond Mike

Suits introduces Rachel Zane as a paralegal at Pearson Hardman law firm, harboring ambitions of becoming a lawyer. As the series progresses, this goal seems to take a backseat, and her character storyline becomes increasingly intertwined with her romantic entanglement with Mike Ross. Beyond her romantic relationship with him, Rachel’s interactions with other characters remain unexplored. While the show briefly touches on her friendship with Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty), it never truly delves into the dynamics of this relationship.

Her camaraderie with Donna has the potential to offer a fresh perspective on her character and reveal aspects of her personality beyond the romantic domain. The two characters are great together, and their limited interactions are a delight to see. However, their interactions are without depth, mostly revolving around Mike and Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht). Yes, it is interesting seeing Rachel and Donna imitate Mike and Harvey’s characters at a hangout, introducing themselves as having a photographic memory and being New York City’s best closer, but it would have been refreshing to see Rachel’s connections with other characters beyond her romantic affiliation.

Aaron Korsh‘s Suits also misses the opportunity to delve into Rachel Zane’s family background. The show hints at a complicated relationship between Rachel, portrayed by the now Duchess of Sussex, and her father, Robert Zane (Wendell Pierce). However, we learn most of these revelations through her interactions with Mike Ross. Rachel tells Mike about her father’s wish that Rachel had been born a boy and the high expectations that he has of her. When the series finally shows a heart-to-heart moment between father and daughter, which again comes when Rachel temporarily calls off her wedding to Mike, their interaction gives a hint of what the show could have been if it had explored that relationship more.

In that instance, Rachel is already a lawyer, and they are working on a joint case. They grab the moment to reminisce over their past best partnership when Rachel was a young girl for a UN-model trial in Switzerland that she failed and never got over. This in part explains why she feels inadequate when it comes to tests. For another rarity, that father-daughter moment also shows Robert Zane’s vulnerability when he discloses that he took up the pro bono case they are working on to make up for the regret he has for not standing up for Rachel’s late aunt when she was unfairly fired at a bank. Again, it is Mike’s pursuit of justice for the downtrodden through a pro bono class action case that Robert and Mike worked on together that inspires Robert Zane to take up the case. Even in such a moment, Mike Ross’ character features prominently. Other important relationships, such as Rachel and her mother, are not explored in Suits. It would have been fulfilling to see her mother’s influence on Rachel and her choices, if any. Failing to delve into these relationships leaves many unanswered questions.

Rachel Defers Her Journey to Become a Lawyer in ‘Suits’ For Mike

Rachel’s journey to becoming a lawyer is a core aspiration of her character, but it seems to take a back seat to her relationship with Mike. Despite her initial drive to prove herself and overcome her past challenges with the LSATs, her path to lawyering is overshadowed by her romantic narrative. It is actually through her relationship with Mike that she seems to reignite the flame of becoming a lawyer. Suits did Rachel’s character a disservice in this respect by making it subservient to Mike’s. It is Mike who pushes her to study and finally take the LSATs. When Rachel gets rejected by Harvard and accepted by Stanford, she doesn’t immediately tell Mike because she fears he will break up with her due to the long distance they will have between them. When Mike encourages her to push on, she is not only enthusiastic about it, she turns down Stanford and negotiates with Jessica to waive the Harvard employment rule for her as she joins Columbia Law School. It is as if she buried her dreams when she got into a romantic relationship with Mike, and it is he that resurrects them.

Related

This Is the Best Team Up on ‘Suits’ (and No, It’s Not Mike and Harvey)

The best team-up at Pearson Specter Litt isn’t Batman and his Boy Wonder.

Did Rachel Zane Need a Romantic Relationship?

Meghan Markle portraying Rachel Zane with Patrick J. Adams as Mike Ross in a scene where they hug on a couch in Suits.
Image via USA Network

Unlike Louis, who clearly needs a partner or at least a friend, and the Harvey and Donna duo who need each other, Rachel’s character is presented as an independent woman who is used to doing things her way and on her own. It is a contradiction of her character that she doesn’t have the push to follow through on her primary character goals. Mike even reminds her that even though her parents are “loaded,” she chooses to do things by herself to prove a point. But, what is this point? Not a romantic relationship. Yet, it is her relationship with Mike that Suits centers her character around. By focusing on her romantic relationship, Suits deprives Meghan Markle’s character’s full exploration of her personal goals. While the show subtly hints at her desire to prove herself, it doesn’t fully explore her motivations. This absence of high stakes in her ambitions and goals, coupled with her underdeveloped friendships and family dynamics, results in a character that falls short of her potential.

While Suits is undeniably one of the best legal television dramas, it squandered the opportunity to showcase the full scope of Rachel Zane’s character. Relegating her friendships, family dynamics, and personal ambitions to secondary roles in favor of her role as Mike’s girlfriend, denied the show a chance to empower Rachel’s character and give her a storyline that creates a multidimensional and multifaceted character beyond being Mike’s girlfriend.

Suits is available to stream on Netflix in the U.S.

Watch on Netflix

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