The Suits Resurgence: Analyzing Meghan Markle’s Paralegal Bombshell Rachel Zane

The Suits Resurgence

Four years after it went off the air, Suits has become the show of the summer, garnering billions of views in just a few months. The show was a major hit for the USA network during its initial run and got a spike in notoriety when one of its stars, Meghan Markle, left in season seven to go marry a prince in real life. Now that the show is gaining more new fans than ever before, it’s time to take a deeper look at one of the characters that made the show so bingeable. The razor-sharp paralegal that found her own way to the top: Rachel Zane.

Rachel’s Biggest Storylines
When we meet Rachel, she’s a paralegal working at Pearson Hardman tasked with showing newcomer Mike Ross the ropes – but she immediately makes it clear that she’s not someone to be messed with. The fact that she’s not just your average paralegal is also made apparent by the fact that she has her own office while other paralegals and even first-year lawyers are stuck in cubicles. Rachel is one of the brightest minds at the firm but has yet to make the leap to law school. It turns out that this isn’t due to a lack of desire or ability, but something quite relatable to many: test anxiety. Though she certainly has the knowledge to pass the LSATs, her fear surrounding failure caused her to flub the test, which then led to her being afraid to retake it – causing her to end up trapped in limbo at Pearson Hardman.

Though Rachel desperately wants to become a fully-fledged lawyer, while she’s putting off taking the test again she does put in the work to become the best paralegal at the firm. She’s the top researcher and the one everyone comes to when they need things done right. She’s also great at combining her skills with others to overcome obstacles, like when she uses her amanuensis skills and Mike’s photographic memory to create new copies of a file he technically wasn’t supposed to have seen. Rachel is incredibly hardworking, willing to stay late and come in early to get things done, and she helps everyone else work towards success, too.

Behind all of her beauty and brains, Rachel has secrets, too – the biggest being that her father is actually one of the most high-powered lawyers in the city. Rachel wanted to build her career on her own merit, so she kept the info about her father to herself. She also only lives off of her own money instead of being bankrolled by him. In addition to not wanting to be judged for being a nepo baby, Rachel also distances herself from her father due to their difficult history. A large part of Rachel’s drive to always be the best comes from growing up feeling that no matter how good she was, she would never be able to truly make her father proud of her. As an adult, she felt that she had to move out of his shadow and focus on herself if she wanted any chance of finding fulfillment and becoming her own person. But she did also pick up some positive traits from her father as well, like her laser focus on her work and her refusal to accept less than what she’s worth.

While Rachel is generally a good person, she’s by no means perfect. One of her biggest flaws is a selfish side that occasionally breaks out when she decides to go after something or someone, even when she knows she shouldn’t. This is, in fact, how her romance with Mike kicks off: she goes in for a kiss while he’s in the middle of talking about his girlfriend. She also later cheats on Mike with Logan in the heat of the moment (who she had also, it turns out, previously had an affair with while he was married…) So while her selfishness in relationships hurts other people, her choice to put herself first in life sometimes aids her in other arenas, like climbing the corporate ladder.

Overcoming Relatable Obstacles

One of Rachel’s biggest story arcs is working toward finally passing the LSATs and trying to get into Harvard Law. Though her anxiety has caused her to keep pushing her next LSAT date, Mike arrives and wants to help her pass – which he knows a thing or two about since he used to take exams for other students. Rachel finds out his little secret when she herself considers hiring someone to take the test for her so she can finally pass. But she backs out at the last minute because she doesn’t want to advance her career through cheating. After she forgives him for lying to her, he helps her study so that she can pass all on her own. But it turns out that even finally passing the LSAT isn’t the key to everything – she still gets rejected from Harvard. Every other lawyer at the firm went to Harvard Law, so Rachel fears that this is the end of her dream of joining the firm as a lawyer herself. But as always, in the end, she uses her smarts to figure out a solution that sees the firm not only accepting her going to Columbia but also paying her tuition.

It’s Rachel’s mix of qualities that makes her so compelling to watch. She’s incredibly intelligent but doesn’t fall into the trope we so often see of the super genius who always just magically has everything fall into place for them. She really has to use her smarts and work hard to carve out the life she wants for herself on her own terms. And it’s notable that the show chose to show her test anxiety in a realistic, relatable way. So often on screen test anxiety is brushed off as being a little nervous before an exam, something that’s a bit bothersome but not life-altering. But the truth is that test anxiety can have longer-term negative effects on one’s life. An estimated 25-40% of students have test anxiety and many find that it seriously holds them back in school, which can have a knock-on effect as they continue to miss opportunities because regardless of how much they know the material, they can’t pass a test on the information. Seeing Rachel feeling stuck for years due to her issues with this works to showcase the true toll it can take on sufferers. Watching her work to finally overcome it and pass the LSATs with flying colors helps to give hope to audience members who relate to her struggle.

Next to her long road to becoming a lawyer, Rachel’s biggest story arc is her relationship with Mike. They have instant chemistry but continually run into hurdles that stop them from being together. They become friends as they work together and Mike begins helping her study for the LSATs, and eventually do decide to try to make a relationship work. But their biggest obstacles come when Rachel uncovers Mike’s lies. Rachel is upset when she finds out that he takes the LSATs for other people, but she’s furious when she finds out that he never actually went to Harvard and doesn’t have a law degree. She’s not just hurt by the fact that he lied about who he is, but also because he’s been able to get everything she’s worked so hard for without putting in the work. But in both cases, Mike comes clean and tells her the whole truth, because being honest with Rachel and not losing her is more important to him than anything else. Rachel doesn’t immediately turn him in either time because she’s loyal to good people, and she knows that, at the end of the day, he’s not a bad guy and is just trying to deal with the cards he’s been dealt. They complement each other and help one another grow as people and as lawyers over the course of the show, even through all of the drama. And when they do come up against obstacles in their relationship, things don’t get fixed through soap opera-esque magic, but through them putting in the work to make amends – so their relationship often feels a lot more real than others we often see on TV dramas. In the end, they do get a happy ending, getting married at the end of season seven and moving to Seattle to run a legal clinic together.

Rachel’s TV Legacy

Rachel left the show at the end of season seven because actress Meghan Markle was going off to get married in real life to Prince Harry. Several characters left the show that season, so instead of it being some big drama Rachel and Mike got a lovely send-off. But in the same way people at the time wondered if Meghan was responsible for the show’s demise (even though it continued on for two seasons after she left,) some are now wondering if she is the reason the show is gaining popularity again. Maybe people decided to watch ‘that show Meghan Markle was on’ when it was added to Netflix in June. Or maybe Netflix is deliberately pulling the strings to inflate the show’s success to keep Meghan in the news because of her own deal with the company… Or maybe people just like the show and it’s easier to access now because more people have Netflix than Peacock, where it streamed previously. Suit’s huge second wind has allowed a whole new audience to enjoy the great cast of characters and intriguing storylines. The show manages to bring the drama while still being comforting in its own way, giving audiences nine whole seasons to settle into without having to worry that the show is going to get canceled before reaching its conclusion.

Rachel brought a special spark to Suits’s ensemble and helped make the show the bingable favorite it’s become. She struggled and made mistakes, but in the end, always found a way to do the right thing. Her belief in herself and her refusal to let other people walk all over her is so great to watch. And the fact that she wasn’t solely a goody-two-shoes or a femme fatale seductress, but a fleshed-out character with many facets, made her both more relatable and more fun to watch. That she got to be a flawed character who wasn’t always perfect and still ended up with a happy ending instead of being ‘punished’ is also notable. Her test anxiety being rooted in real struggles, not just messing up once and then immediately acing it but really having to struggle for years at something that seems to come so easy for others, also helped make her compelling in a big way. She highlighted that real smarts are about more than just book smarts or being really good at taking tests and that what really matters is being able to put your knowledge to good use. Suits wouldn’t have been the same without Rachel’s charisma and strong will, so it’s great that she and the entire show are getting another moment in the spotlight.