Do I smell like sausage?

Show: Suits
Job: Redeeming the character of Louis Litt

To watch television is to suspend disbelief. It is the land of make believe, where high school girls are private eyes and ex-cons are heroes. But there is a limit to what even the most willing imaginist will believe, and I have reached mine. I refuse to believe that this


is this.

Pure Evil

The new show Suits is on a mid-season hiatus, and before it returns to its regularly scheduled programming the TV Consultants have been called in to iron out a few kinks. In the words of George Washington, I cannot tell a lie: even before our services were engaged, CB and I had begun to puzzle out the apparent contradictions in the show. We asked ourselves:

Who employs a voluptuous paralegal who has an attitude problem and poor test scores?

What handsome, heartless lawyer with a perfect record also has a moral code?

Where can you find, in real life, a sexy, self-possessed, sarcastic secretary in love with but not pining for her boss?

When do you stop giving second chances to the drug-dealing best friend who constantly screws you over?

Why does the outrageously successful female boss regularly make errors in judgment?

How does a geek with a photographic memory have two extremely gorgeous girls fighting over him?

All of these are valid—and perhaps vital—questions. But when we were assigned the case, we were asked to answer a question that we had not considered.

How do you save a character with the temperament of a Golden Retriever

Louis Litt

from being cast as a villain?

Evil Villain

Louis Litt is essentially the dog you had as a kid. You loved him and in return he showed undying loyalty. Sometimes he bit the mailman in a moment of exuberance, but he was doing it to prove that no one was more important to him than you. He slept by your bed; he licked the scab on your knee; he ran with you through the woods; he was awake when you woke and did not sleep until you slept.

The point is that when the dog bit the mailman, it was a moment of misguided enthusiasm and not malice. When Louis screws up, it is because he is so intent on the goal that he forgets where he is. When he bares his teeth and goes after a man during a deposition, it is to get a confession and not cause a heart attack (which unfortunately happens). Yet even though Louis was only doing his job, for the remainder of the episode his colleagues and his boss treat him like a serial killer and seem exasperated that instead of being in prison he keeps showing up at the office.

Seriously. Why is he here?

The truth is that if Louis is a villain, he is the most unsuccessful one since the Brain. Far from taking over the world, he cannot even take over the position of Senior Partner. He likes Queen. He has a weakness for the opera. He asks questions like “Do I smell like sausage?” before attempting to hit on a woman. And he does all of these things unabashedly.

So, how do we save Louis from being the villain?

The TV Consultants have come up with a two-part solution.

  1. We laugh at him.
  2. We love him.

The first step is pretty much in place (see sausage, above). The second step, however, is an enormous paradigm shift. Instead of hating Louis (and I mean you, Harvey, Jessica, Mike) we love him. Instead of calling him stupid, we call him funny. Instead of tolerating him for his billables, we appreciate him for his absurdity. Instead of hitting his dogged loyalty with a newspaper, we pat him on the head.

Before Episode 9 “Undefeated” aired, the buzz was that Rachel (the sexy paralegal with a Rockefeller Center-sized chip on her shoulder) was going to lay the smack-down on Louis. And in a way, that happened. He discovers that she leaked information to a rival firm and he suspends her. Then he discovers that she was framed and he revokes the suspension. She comes to his office and he officially welcomes her back, and it goes something like this:

RACHEL: You called me?
LOUIS: Sure did. Have a seat.
RACHEL: I prefer to stand.
LOUIS: Fair enough. Uh, I made a mistake. You were unfairly punished, and I would like to officially… just welcome you back.
RACHEL: Thank you.
LOUIS: You’re welcome.
RACHEL: Are you kidding me? You think I’m going to take it that easy on you?
(Louis looks shocked, then shrugs.)
RACHEL: I want a raise.
(Louis smiles. This is a woman he can deal with.)

It started off well, right? Rachel was treated unfairly, and perhaps Louis had acted rashly, but he had made a decision based on information he had at the time. It was not malicious. He is not out to destroy Rachel. They could have laughed about it over coffee. And then:

LOUIS: Three perc—
RACHEL: Ten percent.
(Louis is like seriously? Brat.)
LOUIS: Seven.
RACHEL: Ten percent.
LOUIS: Fine.
RACHEL: And Pearson-Hartman pays for law school when I decide to go.
LOUIS: Agreed.
RACHEL: And one more thing. (She takes a few slow steps toward him.) And these should have been the first words out of your mouth when I walked in here. You need to apologize to me. Right now. Or I’m going to file a lawsuit against you first thing in the morning.
LOUIS: You’re right. I should have apologized. But don’t—you—threaten—me. I follow procedure to the letter, and you have no basis for a lawsuit.
RACHEL: No, I don’t. Not about this. But if you don’t think I have a basis for all the shit you’ve pulled over the years I’ve been here… think again.
LOUIS (like pulling teeth): I’m sorry. Okay?
(Rachel leaves and closes the door.)

Do you see where this went wrong? Instead of laughing at how dumb Louis is, Rachel decides that she hates his guts and wants to see him drawn and quartered. Wrong direction alert! This is how we would have ended that scene.

RACHEL: I want a raise.
(Louis smiles. This is a woman he can deal with.
LOUIS: Three percent.
RACHEL: Ten percent.
LOUIS: Seven.
RACHEL (laughs): Fifteen.
RACHEL: Ten percent.
LOUIS: Fine.
RACHEL: And Pearson-Hartman pays for law school when I decide to go.
LOUIS (knowing she never will, because she cannot pass the LSAT): Agreed.
RACHEL: And one more thing. (She takes a few slow, suggestive steps toward him.) And these should have been the first words out of your mouth when I walked in here.
LOUIS: I love you?
RACHEL: WHAT? No! “I’m sorry!” What do you mean, you love me?
LOUIS: I think you’re beautiful. Could I take you out for dinner?
LOUIS: Drinks?
LOUIS: Coffee?
RACHEL: Well… okay.
LOUIS: And you’re right. I should have apologized. But I follow procedure to the letter, and I am sick of people getting mad at me for just doing my job.
RACHEL (laughing): You kind of do a lot of stupid things…
LOUIS (laughing): Well, I guess I do. Do you like Queen? I have tickets.
RACHEL: Aren’t they dead?
LOUIS: You’re such an airhead, but that’s why I love you. Do I smell like sausage?
(FADE OUT as Rachel, like the writers of Suits and the rest of us, finally embraces the ridiculousness.)

And LOUIS does a happy dance.