So these two bits really stood out to me in 02×09. This was one of the few times I’ve so furiously disliked Louis. I don’t know if the juxtaposition was intentional, and I doubt the writers would elaborate even if it were, but it definitely stuck out to me. How dare he imply that Jessica doesn’t know what it’s like to be in someone else’s shadow? Her race and gender ensure that she will!
The thing is, as a woman, and as a Black person, Jessica has had the deck doubly stacked against her from the start. She’s mentioned this before, and both then and now, has indicated that she is very much aware of how rare it is for a Black woman to be in her position and she considers herself fortunate. That’s the difference between her and Louis and even Harvey. Women, and especially women of color, do tend to be grateful when they get opportunities. And this affects them very materially. While Louis and Harvey, as white men, are much more confident and entitled in their positions. They do the work? They should get the rewards, simple as that. And as wonderful as that would be for everyone, that’s not the case.
Jessica shouldn’t need to be grateful to Hardman, but she is. And sad as it is, Hardman did actually take on a higher risk by picking her. People take risks in every decision, especially when managing other people. Who should go where, who should do what. Nobody’s perfect at everything, nobody is the smartest at every single aspect of the job. Pros and cons are weighed, somebody who might be a great people person but not so great at the technical parts could be promoted over an awkward expert. Somebody who may seem like a rock star may turn out to be a dud. The best might burn out early or have only been lucky or may turn out to be exceedingly unlucky. Hardman weighed all of this and the still existing racist and sexist business environment that would only work against Jessica, and thus, him, and still took her as his protege and she was grateful to him. Harvey knows that this is because Hardman realized that she was good enough to overcome any of these handicaps, just as he knows he was good enough to be picked by Jessica and then good enough to demand every raise and promotion we’ve seen him get.
On the other hand, we know that Mike is grateful to Harvey for giving him the job and support he did, too, because aside from all the normal risks, there are the huge marks against him where he’s a former drug addict and has no law degree, thus opening up Harvey and the firm to a huge liability. Mike should be grateful to Harvey. But the reasons why Jessica is grateful to Hardman? The similarity in the situations? A white man’s drug addiction and legal action-worthy lies are analogous to simply being a Black woman.