28th April 2021
Update: Within two hours of publishing this post, Patrick J Adams himself replied to my Tweet and thanked me. My heart skipped a beat when I saw him on my timeline. Twitter is an amazing place, it has changed the fans-stars relationships like how. Not in a million years was it possible for TV or movie stars to connect to their fans in far off nations. Twitter makes that happen. But Patrick is not the only star I have tagged, earlier, I’ve tagged Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry among others. He is the only one who replied. It shows his humility and kindness. Thank you Patrick J Adams, you are a great human being.
27th April 2021
“Patrick J Adams, who?” would be the first question if my readers are primarily Indian, and mostly follow Indian content on Netflix or Prime or Disney. Patrick Adams is a Canadian actor famous for just one big TV show, which aired on USA Network for nine seasons from 2011 to 2019. The name of the show and his name are likely to be forgotten as these things usually are. In fact, Adams knows it the best. That’s why on his own Twitter bio he describes himself as, “guy who used to be the other guy on that show about the lawyers.”
Well, that show was Suits. The main guy was Harvey Specter, played by Gabriel Macht, and the other guy was Mike Ross played by Patrick J Adams.
Suits, USA TV
I started binge watching Suits during the pandemic lockdown. Initially, even as I got addicted to it, I felt embarrassed that of all the serious thought provoking TV series out there, I am watching the one with no other worthy substance except good-looking men in suits. I thought there was no substantial plot or narrative except super hot white men in their costly suits throwing needless high-testosterone laden dialogues and hyper-masculine temper. Though there were strong women characters like Jessica (Gina Torres), Donna (Sarah Rafferty) and Rachel (Meghan Markel) the show essentially was about aggressive men having their way with other aggressive men, all based in New York, in the high profile world of corporate lawyers and business owners.
The show seemed to be partly inspired by House MD, with similar elements. House had an eccentric maverick doctor who must be kept in control by a woman boss, who was the youngest woman Dean in a medical college of her time, and his friend James Wilson, and was surrounded by his proteges who were both inspired by him but also hated him. In Suits, Greg House’s parallel would be Harvey Specter, a maverick lawyer who doesn’t mind bending the laws to win a case, and wins every case. Then there is Lisa Cuddy’s parallel in Jessica Pearson, the youngest black woman who is a name partner at a New Yorker law firm, Harvey’s boss. Unlike Cuddy however, Jessica never became Harvey’s love interest and remained his mentor. What Cuddy and House had in terms of romance can be compared to that of Harvey and Donna, his secretary cum soulmate. The will-they-won’t-they couple, whose anticipated romance stretched all the way towards the end seasons because otherwise fans would be pissed off. The bromance between House and Wilson can be compared with Harvey and Mike but the difference is Mike was not really a friend but a junior lawyer about ten years younger than Harvey.
Patrick Adams Is Intriguing
Mike’s character changed drastically towards the end of the show, which was natural for the evolution of any person in real or reel but what seems to me is that the actor who played him also changed during these 10 years of making the show. And that’s why I am writing this post because for some reason Patrick J Adams the actor has been on my mind like a real person, as if he was a friend and I am intrigued by him.
Mike Ross was a kid, so was Patrick J Adams
Suits was all about these rich corporate lawyer and business owners. Mike Ross was a misfit in that world when the show started. He was a child prodigy, a kid with a photographic memory and an IQ level that surpassed everybody around him since childhood, who never failed a test even if he tried. Since childhood he wanted to become a lawyer to help those who do not have anybody else to speak for them, but sadly, he got thrown out of college because of his friend’s mistake, and could never go to law school. The central premise of the series was to put this kid who never went to any law college in the middle of New York’s top law firm which has retained the tradition of hiring only Harvard Lawyers for as long as it existed.
Ever since he got thrown off his path, Mike started wasting his life being a bike messenger by the day and smoking weed by the night. One odd day he had an accidental meeting with Harvey Specter, who was in the middle of holding job interviews with the Harvard graduates. Mike’s briefcase full of weed accidentally popped open in front of Harvey, and the next thing we know is that Harvey was so impressed by this brilliant kid that he hired him as an Associate despite knowing that he was not a lawyer. From here on, Mike and Harvey have to keep the secret that he is a fake lawyer from everybody in the firm, the department of justice, district attorney, and the New York Bar.
Mike Ross was literally a kid, for everybody except Rachel, the young paralegal and his love interest. For a good six seasons into the show every character referred to Mike as “the kid”. Matching the ‘kid’ image, Patrick Adams physique was lean and bouncy, like a ballet dancer. The unique physicality was not lost upon the showrunners. There were scenes with dialogues, “You are a kid. Do they not feed you?” “I am not going to apologize for my light physique” and “I can pass as a woman, I have soft features.” Mike was a kid with wonder eyes when he first carried his bicycle to the law firm, and looked up the tall building, it was the first time he was entering this elite rich people’s world. He was full of childlike wonder when he learnt the price of Harvey’s suits; when he first heard that there was an IT department in the law firm, and when he entered the IT department and saw the servers he said, “Whoa! This is like battleship galactica”. Every now and then the child in him would throw movie quotes fitting the situation, which were either matched or outwitted by Harvey, also an ardent movie fan (One of the most addictive thing about Suits, which makes it repeat-binge-watch worthy, is to identify which quote is from which movie).
Mike Ross was a pure innocent kid with boundless IQ and a golden heart when he first entered the big bad world of corporate America, hired by the ruthless Harvey Specter, the best closer in the city, and Mike’s boss, mentor, friend, and family in that order. Patrick Adams played Mike Ross so well that in our minds they became the same person. It was not just Mike who was a cute innocent kid, but so was Adams. With time of course, Mike became a tough man, and just as ruthless and cunning a lawyer as Harvey was. The end of the show, season 9 in fact had a direct face off between Harvey and Mike on opposite sides of a legal battle.
With the character’s evolution Patrick Adam’s physique also changed, he became muscular, as did his body language, dialogue delivery, and overall personality. From being a sweet innocent kid he too seemed to have become an arrogant, self important and overtly serious person. At the beggining there was a playfulness about Mike’s character as was conveyed by the high fives he’d want Harvey to go for, but Harvey won’t since its juvenile. By the end of the show in season 9 we almost couldn’t find that kid anymore. This was brilliant so far as the character’s growth and story arch was concerned but sometimes certain actors play a character so well that they become inseparable from the character. Then you have to ask, are they being good actor or being themselves?
So was it just Adam’s brilliant acting that portrayed the changes in Mike Ross so aptly or was it that Adams himself changed as a person and that got reflected in his acting?
When I like a TV character I get invested in the actor who played it, and then I get invested in the life journey of that actor. Hence my interest in Patrick J Adams as a person, not just as an actor. I found out that Adam’s father is a journalist, and he himself is an amateur photographer, and a sharp political commentator. I like it when actors go political. Shows they got balls and backbone. Adams was recently in the news for strongly coming out in support of his Suits co-star Meghan Markle amid bullying allegations and Buckingham Palace probe. Surely, Adams as a person is not a kid. Neither is Mike anymore in the Suits universe. Question is, where does Adams the actor stand now? Would he be able to play another cute character like Mike or would he only play serious roles, like John Glenn in The Right Stuff, because that’s who he is as a person now?
I am curious because I was introduced to Patrick Adams not by Suits but by the Nat Geo and Disney show The Right Stuff.
When The Right Stuff was announced Adams was the most prominent name among the cast members, the second one being Colin O’Donoghue (another appreciation post on Colin is in the waiting).
Adams played John Glenn, a brilliant pilot whose one ambition in life was to be the first man in space, a religious man with a strong moral code, who would never slip in ethics, never step out, but who was also full of pride, vanity and a holier than thou attitude. Adams played it so well, he got so much into the character, that for me it is hard to tell who the real Adams is.
One might say this is just acting, the real person could be totally someone else. And that a good actor can play any role. Well, unless Patrick J Adams played another character just as innocent as Mike Ross was, I’d keep wondering about the real and reel Adams.
PS. I like Patrick Adams so much that I wrote this appreciation post even as I have a pile of political writing to catch up with for next edition of National Herald. People have comfort food, comfort shows, I got comfort writing. Something I do when I am tired of fighting the fascists. This Patrick J Adams appreciation blog is my comfort writing.