The Competitive Drive: Philosophy in ‘Suits’

The competitive nature of what Harvey says demonstrates to us not only the competitiveness of his industry but the obsessional desire he has to win.

The high-stakes law TV series, ‘Suits’ first hit small screens in 2011 and since then, has gained quite the following. The show has a lot of insights into many different topics but it perhaps holds the most intriguing thoughts when it comes to philosophy. One key question raised being: how can a competitive drive both motivate and mangle us? Today, we will look into the philosophy of ‘Suits’.

Harvey Specter in the show ‘Suits’, portrayed by Gabriel Macht

Harvey Specter, attorney and senior Partner at the fictional firm of Suits once exclaimed: “Life is a game; play to win”. Have you ever thought of the rewarding yet damaging implications of such a statement? The competitive nature of what Harvey says demonstrates to us not only the competitiveness of his industry but the obsessional desire he has to win. Fans of the show will know that Harvey has never lost a legal battle or case. This is perhaps one of his most admirable but troublesome feats. If we give everything our all, we are bound to burn out and eventually suffer a huge loss. Harvey even says at one stage: “I don’t play the game. I play the man”. This shows his manipulative identity and how high his personal stakes are to win; all this is setting him up to eventually take a big fall. But let’s take a pause here and flip the coin. While it’s obvious it can be a negative trait, can obsessional competitiveness also be a good thing?

Sometimes to ‘fry the big fish’ you need to be the ‘bigger fish’. Yep; horrible analogy but the ideology behind it is simple. If we want to win and do well in life, sometimes we need to be tough and aggressive with the competition to what we want. This can even be seen as a natural survival mechanism to keep up in the pecking order or the metaphorical ‘food chain’. So having a competitive drive can be a good thing; it’s when it becomes obsessional that it becomes troubling.

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