On the Scene 11/8: ‘Suits’ franchise officially dies with ‘Pearson’ cancellation

USA Network officially closed the doors on Chicago’s municipal complex when it put the axe through the Windy City-based series “Pearson.”

A spinoff from USA Network’s hit series “Suits,” “Pearson” centered around Manhattan-based lawyer Jessica Pearson as she gave up her law degree and took a job as the Chicago mayor’s personal assistant turned “fixer.”

The first and only season, which consisted of 10 episodes, only recorded an average of 513,000 total viewers and a 0.1 demographic rating. Looking at the numbers, it is more than understandable as to why the network decided to pull the plug.

But, if you were to look at the writing of the series, it is impressive that the series was even able to last for the entirety of the 11-week run–one week being an off week for Labor Day.

Introducing more than a handful of new characters, series writers did everything to show viewers that this new series was nothing like “Suits.” With the exception of title character Pearson herself, not one single character had any kind of reflection of Pearson’s former life in Manhattan – which, in my opinion, was a good thing.

The series needed to create an identity for itself and not rely on where it came from to carry the show to move forward. But, when it takes half of the first season to build that, it should come as no surprise that viewership dropped week after week.

Don’t get me wrong, the series eventually had not only gotten tolerable, but even watchable and enjoyable in a sense. But I had to break my own rule to get to these feelings – the four-episode test, which I apply to every new series that I begin. I give any series, no matter what it is, four episodes to capture me and make me want to continue watching.

Being an avid “Suits” fan, otherwise known as a “suitor,” I told myself, no matter how bad “Pearson” was, I was committed to watching it in its entirety.

It did take six weeks, but eventually the show grew on me. I began to care for certain characters and found myself looking forward to the next episode. But if a series needs 60% of its first season to get you to that point, it doesn’t deserve to be carried out.

Not to mention, the first season ended on a cliff-hanger.

How could the writers even feel as if this was OK? The show, which viewers were skeptical about when it was announced two years ago, didn’t look as if it could survive for a long while from the get-go. Granted, I’m sure the writers believed it would at least survive its initial season, but why would you risk it? Why would anyone be so sure that a first-year run would be signed for another year before even seeing how viewers would react?

Now the viewers who actually cared as to how storylines would be tied up don’t even get to see any form of resolution for characters that they grew any attachment to. It feels as if I completed wasted 10 hours of my time.

 

Ken Downey Jr. is the Managing Editor for Time OFF and Packet Media, LLC. This is a part of his series of weekly columns focusing on arts and entertainment. He can be contacted at kdowney@newspapermediagroup.com.