Suits is in its final season, and USA needs a strong contender to maintain the passion shown by fans of the show once it's gone.
Gina Torres' Jessica Pearson was an essential part of Suits for most of its run, so it only makes sense that the charismatic actress gets to keep her alive in the new series Pearson.
Pearson offers fans the opportunity to follow a beloved character to a new location and new viewers a show more in tune with USA's current brand.
Slowly but surely over the past several years, USA has been cutting ties with what was once called its "blue sky" shows -- dramas with comedic aspects and strong character focus. The network ads at the time touted "Characters Welcome."
Monk, Psych, Burn Notice, In Plain Sight, and Royal Pains all come to mind. Most of them retired years ago, but Suits managed to curtail its optimistic side when Mike finally got nabbed for illegally practicing law and the entire firm suffered.
It was necessary for Suits to change tactics when playing alongside grittier fare like Graceland, Mr. Robot, Colony, and Queen of the South. Gone were smiles and blue skies, in was darkness, brooding, and cursing.
Pearson follows Jessica Pearson as she joins the Chicago Mayor's office as a fixer. She was often put into that role on Suits when practicing law, so it feels like a natural career progression.
And while Pearson was born of Suits, the move to the political arena requires some of the darkness of the aforementioned shows to make it tick.
If there is one thing we know about politics in the current climate, there aren't a lot of sunshine and roses moments. Pearson has to work a lot harder to engage than its predecessor.
While the characters on Suits were easy to love and well-loved before the more daunting themes began to emerge, the Pearson characters do not win hearts easily.
But if you stick with it, you'll be rewarded with a satisfying full-season arc in which complex personalities are explored and rewarded.
The premise of the show begins with Jessica trying to find a new way to use her admirable skills to get results for the Mayor of Chicago without utilizing her education as a lawyer.
If you watched Suits, you know that Jessica and the other attorneys at the firm used a lot of risky maneuvers to keep cases from hitting the courtroom.
Chicago Mayor Bobby Golec (Morgan Spector) knows someone with Jessica's particular set of skills could go a long way to keep him from dealing with the dirtier aspects of politics.
And Bobby knows a thing or two about dirty politics. He appears to work closely with a local union leader, Pat McGann (Wayne Duvall) who uses questionable business tactics.
Before Jessica's arrival, Bobby counted mostly on his half-brother Nick (Simon Kassianides) and his City Attorney, Keri (Bethany Joy Lenz) to keep him out of hot water.
Both of them have a lot of baggage that keeps them from functioning without some bias. By hiring Jessica, Bobby hopes to keep those he cares about most from his darkest secrets.
Jessica arrives on the scene with the desire to reconnect with her family by using her talents for the greater good instead of clawing away at the glass ceiling and making loads of money.
She did very well for herself and wants to do very well for others.
But Bobby isn't a clean mayor, and those at his side aren't pillars of the earth, either. That only makes it more difficult for Jessica to devote her attention to society at large.
Jessica learns very fast that her aspirations will come as a result of how she handles Bobby's problems as she needs to convince him that she has more to offer than merely fixing his problems.
But fixing his issues also allows her to better understand the political system that she's been working around but never within during her career. The emotional toll on Jessica is a lot higher in politics than it was in corporate law.
She's not readily accepted into the Mayor's administration, either. Jessica Pearson has a reputation, and since Keri was responsible for her disbarment, tensions are high in the office.
Jessica has to find a way to integrate into the political machine with former enemies at her side. The progression of those relationships is the best part of Pearson.
Lenz is terrific as the City Attorney and a worthwhile adversary for Jessica. They're both strong-willed and capable, and they both have chips on their shoulders.
Eli Goree plays Bobby's press secretary, Derrick Mayes. Derrick is excited about the possibilities that Jessica brings to the table, and the two quickly find a kinship.
Derrick might be the press secretary, but he has also been running interference for Bobby on many levels, and he acts as a bit of an enforcer for the Mayor, a role he is ready to relinquish to Jessica.
As Jessica confidently sways into the City building, she bumps right into Yoli Castillo (Isabel Arraiza) a young woman who, for better or worse, reminds her of herself.
As she begins navigating the waters and swimming past the perils from Keri while protecting Bobby, she gets a case from Jeff (D.B. Woodside) that sets her on a collision course with the administration inside and out.
It's a case that forms the underlying structure for the season and involves characters at many levels. It's a good mystery that requires Jessica to be at her best, getting close to the Mayor's staff while also remaining leery of them.
Pearson ticks a lot of political hot topics, including corruption and illegal immigration. There is a lot to think about when it comes to concessions to less-than-savory types and burning through the little guy on the way to providing a better government for the masses.
There is a lot to think about, and it's always presented with great care and no easy answers. That's Jessica's biggest challenge. It was a lot easier for her to strike deals when she wasn't working on deals that could cut out the needs of those most worthy of help.
While Jessica gets to know those around her, little is as she first expects. Whether it's new political allies or family, Jessica is often out of her depth. But she has the intellect and compassion to rise and smooth the waters as well as can be expected.
If it's difficult to get to know and understand the people with whom Jessica works every day, it's equally as hard to get on board with Jessica's hard-headed cousin, Angela.
Jessica spent a long time away from her family center, and what her cousin knows of her she doesn't like.
Angela (Chantal Riley) is a hard-working single mother with aspirations of a better life for her mother and her son. So when Jessica returns offering assistance that often comes by way of her pocketbook, Angela doesn't have time for it.
She sees Jessica as a woman who will toss money at the family in lieu of spending time with them. Angela's mother, happy to have her niece back in the family fold, acts as a buffer between the two.
I had the benefit of binge-watching Pearson. I say it was a benefit because I got to know and understand the characters without having to sit and mull over their poor choices in search of their better qualities.
As it can be difficult to see the ray of light through some of the darker moments, everything falls together for the season beautifully. Each episode drove me to the next without hesitation, and as the curtain fell on the full season, it was easy for me to conceptually greenlight a second season.
Because of the storyline, Torres' Jessica often played third fiddle to Suits' Mike and Harvey, and she even struggled for more screentime given the strength of that ensemble.
Series creators Aaron Korsh and Daniel Arkin know their subject very well. Therefore, on Pearson, Jessica is front and center.
The result seems to indicate the creators' vision of an ensemble worthy of its predecessor and Torres' willingness to share the limelight. Jessica is clearly the ruling force behind Pearson but never dominates scenes ensuring all of the characters and their respective talent get to shine.
Has there ever been a drama that moved within the world of a mayor? Chicago is brimming with political challenges, and that should offer many seasons worth of material.
Pearson is a compelling and timely political drama that offers something unique to the current television landscape. That it's crafted from a beloved and successful show gets it attention, but the drama earns accolades as a result of the talented cast and storytelling.
Pearson premieres Wednesday, July 17 just after the season premiere of Suits at 10/9c. Check your local listings for your USA affiliate.
Will you tune into Pearson? Leave your thoughts below!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.