If you’re looking for a new legal drama that’s a lot less like Suits (2011) and a whole lot more like Gossip Girl (2007), then this show may be the one for you. Partner Track follows a young Asian-American lawyer, Ingrid Yun, as she fights for a top spot as partner at her elite New York City law firm. The show premiered on Netflix on August 26 and stars Arden Cho, Alexandra Turshen, Bradley Gibson, and Dominic Sherwood to name a few. While season one is only 10 episodes long, each episode is a lengthy 45 minutes or so. While the first couple episodes started out strong and captured my interest, the show started falling apart midway through. It felt like it lost track of its original purpose. It was disappointing to see that because there was definitely potential for this show to have been great.
[This review will contain spoilers; read at your own discretion]
My biggest issue with this show? I did not like the protagonist. As happy as I was to see Cho back in the spotlight again, her character became unbearably annoying. But it didn’t start out that way! It was only after she pushed aside her morals and wronged her friends, family, and boyfriend and all for the sake of her company, that her character started going downhill. Now I get that’s part of the premise of the show, seeing how far people will go for the sake of being promoted at work, but that doesn’t mean I have to like the character.
One aspect I did like about Ingrid was the fact that she was Korean. It was cool seeing different holidays like Chuseok being celebrated on screen, and of course as an Asian Canadian myself, it’s always nice to see representation.
While this show is considered a legal drama, I’d go as far as saying it’s almost more of a legal romance. If anything, I’d say that the romance aspect of this show overshadows almost everything else. There’s way too much focus on it in my opinion. My biggest pet peeve when it comes to romance shows or movies is when writers introduce a perfectly wonderful love interest for the protagonist, but he/she always ends up throwing it away for some mysterious past lover. Why can’t shows depict strong and healthy relationships more often? We seriously need more couples like Jake Peralta and Amy Santiago from Brooklyn 99 (2013). Anyway, as you must’ve guessed, this show follows that same overly dramatic formula.
The number of times a perfectly healthy relationship was destroyed in this show by acts of infidelity or pure ignorance was shocking. Even though this show is considered a romance, the romance was probably one of my least favourite parts of the show; it just seemed so poorly done. Everyone was constantly cheating on one another (totally not necessary) and it was always brushed aside as if it wasn’t a big deal. It was so obvious that all these accidents were just added in for drama (which was not needed), and honestly, by the time you’re halfway through the season, all the show really talks about is the relationships. I guess justice doesn’t include cheating for lawyers right?
And while every character gets into some sort of (failed) relationship, the show mainly centers around Ingrid’s on and off flirtatious dynamic with London boy, Jeff Murphy. What an underwhelming couple. I personally did not like the two of them together so that definitely made the show much less enjoyable for me. Jeff plays this mysterious guy from Ingrid’s past (they had a one night stand together and suddenly they’re soulmates?!) and that’s all he really is. Jeff was just such a dull and shallow character. I was incredibly disappointed when Ingrid chose Jeff over Nick (by cheating on Nick might I add) because it seemed like all Ingrid and Jeff had together was sexual tension and no emotional connection. If you’re going to emphasize love in this show, at least do it right.
Okay, so what about the cool lawyer aspect of the show? What I did like was that the entire season mostly followed just one acquisition deal – the one between Sun Corp and the Mins. This really gave the writers the opportunity to flesh out the story and give audiences a better understanding of the ins and outs of the deal. While the show definitely doesn’t reach the intensity of legal dramas like Suits (2011), I still enjoyed what this one had to offer (on the legal side of things anyway). There’s some cool legal jargon and clever workarounds, but rather than focusing on the lawyer’s work, there was more of a focus on exploring the law firm’s work environment.
The show goes pretty deep in discussing serious topics like sexism, racism, and harassment in the workplace. I appreciate how they didn’t hold back on these issues and they really brought attention to the effect it can have on its employees. The most interesting part of the show (for me at least) was seeing how Ingrid was being treated differently because of her race and gender. As a young woman about to join the workforce, seeing mistreatment like this is always eye-opening.
I just really wish they focused on discussing these topics instead of playing into typical relationship problems and forced drama. When we’re constantly being fed problem after problem about everyone’s love life, it becomes hard to remember what the show’s really about and what the real problem is. Unfortunately, the show failed to break free from this stereotypical mold. As a result, all that remained were messy leftovers that the writers tried to quickly piece together and resolve.
I’m finding it a little difficult to determine whether or not I even liked watching this series. I mean, I did finish all the episodes, but watching the final few felt like I had cement blocks tied to my feet as I tried to reach the finish line. I did enjoy the beginning of the show before Ingrid’s world exploded and completely collapsed in on itself, but that’s not enough to save the entire show. With such a dislikable and almost infuriating protagonist and a not so charming main love interest, I can’t really say I had a great time watching this. Because of that, my final rating for Partner Track is a 5.5/10. It just felt like the show didn’t know what it wanted to be. Given the cliffhanger and the reveal that Jeff is in fact, a scumbag who betrayed Ingrid, I’m guessing a second season is going to be in production soon. I’m hoping the creators will realize their mistakes and dial down on the drama. There really is potential to be had here, the show just needs a lot of refining.
Cathy, I missed seeing this in previews so am reading about it here for the first time. As I was reading your post, it absolutely sounded to me like a show in disarray, yet there may very well be a good show “in there somewhere.” I think I’ll wait to see if another season is granted and then decide if it gets on the ever-growing list of potential watches.
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You’re absolutely right! It didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to which was disappointing. The main character makes so many questionable decisions throughout the show that it felt frustrating seeing the writers try to “resolve” all of it within the last 30 minutes of the finale. It’s definitely a pass for now, but I’m hoping they can turn it around in the second season.
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