Editor’s Note: The following article contains spoilers for all of Partner Track Season 1.Partner path has become a talking point on social media, not only because of the steamy romances and tensions, but also because of the way various workplace issues are handled and portrayed on the show.
The 10-episode series follows Arden Cho as Ingrid Yun, an idealistic young lawyer determined to become a partner in the mergers and acquisitions division of her elite New York law firm, Parsons Valentine & Hunt. Things are going well for Ingrid, but everything changed when Jeff Murphy (Dominique Sherwood) – with whom she had a passionate meeting on the weekend six years before – is transferred to the New York office from London. Now Ingrid must navigate her way to her dream job while trying to control her rekindled feelings.
Partner path is a show about lawyers before anything else, so in addition to sexual tension, intermingling relationships, and family dilemmas, we also get to see what it’s like to work at a high-profile, fast-paced law firm. There are many cases handled on the show from different divisions that allow us to take a closer look at how lawyers operate, while trying to find a good balance in their lives, which Ingrid is going through.
Ingrid is overworked and underrated
As a second-generation Korean-American lawyer, the daughter of Korean immigrants, Ingrid still has this enormous pressure to do well and be a role model for her younger sister. She is known to be incredibly smart and driven, stopping for nothing until she reaches the end. We see her constantly working hard to stand out from the crowd, but it’s often at the expense of her personal life. But, there are times when Ingrid is too obscured or focused on her goals where she would simply ignore the feelings of others, especially with her colleagues and colleagues who are also her best friends.
Although she’s overqualified and more than competent to take on the role of partner, getting that accomplishment isn’t as easy for someone like Ingrid, largely because on top of handling huge cases left and on the right, she also faces the challenges that come with being an Asian woman in a male-dominated workplace. That means she has to work ten times harder than her colleagues to get more recognition, and this show knows how to portray that all-too-real struggle clearly and wisely.
In episode 9 titled “Pro Forma”, for example, we see Ingrid attend the law firm’s long-awaited party where they will announce who the next partners will be. Almost everyone, if not everyone, at the event congratulates Ingrid way before knowing the results because they all believe that Ingrid teaming up is already a done deal. They to know Ingrid deserves it, she worked extremely hard. She was at the head of a large and successful business. Thus, when its managing partner Marty Adler (Matthew Rauch) does not include her name on the list of new partners and instead chooses another white man (from a list of white men), people were obviously confused and Ingrid is furious. In shock, Ingrid is told by one of the few high-ranking Asian American women in the company that she’s been through the same thing and that people like them will never receive such recognition in the first place. .
This twist feels like a hard slap across the face, for both viewers and Ingrid. In previous episodes, we see Ingrid having so much hope for the firm. She believed in the system, that it would finally change for the better by promoting genuine diversity and inclusion, but that is not happening. Later, she confronts Marty and tells him she’s quitting after getting all the “you just need to work harder” talk. It’s a very powerful but heartbreaking scene because Ingrid did so much for the company, she gave them everything and got nothing in return. But at the same time, there’s also this sense of relief knowing that Ingrid has finally realized how unfair the company really is to marginalized people. Ingrid, by all means, is not perfect. She makes a lot of stupid mistakes throughout the series, especially when she fails to stand up for her friends when they are targets of racism and sexism. However, it’s great to see her admit her flaws and atone for them in a genuine way.
In the finale, she reunites with her lawyer friends Rachel Friedman (Alexandra Turchen) and Tyler Robinson (Bradley Gibson) and continues her relationship with Jeff. Things start to go well for her even after leaving the company. But at the end, the show takes us on another rollercoaster when Marty reveals to Ingrid that Jeff actually told him about his arrest, despite telling Ingrid he didn’t. Ingrid never seems to enjoy a well-deserved break.
Tyler also faces discrimination and racism within the company.
Another example is what happened to Tyler, a black intellectual property lawyer at the same firm. Incidentally, his colleague Dan Fallon (Nolan Gerard Funk) makes a racist comment towards Tyler, even though he claims it’s not that bad. Tyler politely tells her it’s offensive, but her statements are essentially dismissed with a hasty apology.
A few weeks later, at the company’s annual retreat at a luxury hotel, Dan takes the stage doing stand-up for the talent show. At first he tells typical jokes, but then he switches to a “woke” segment, which makes a few people uncomfortable. Dan even credits Tyler for “opening his eyes” to the concept of white fragility. Sure, that can be seen as mere self-reflection, but Dan says it in a passive-aggressive way, which makes it seem like what Tyler said to Dan was too much. It’s a very embarrassing scene, and what makes it even more horrifying is the fact that it happens in real life, and when you’re Tyler in that situation, there’s nothing you can do right now, except you’ll feel like you’re going to be judged for being too dramatic, he couldn’t even approach the managing partners because they’re laughing with Dan too. Tyler didn’t know who to talk to.
After the stand-up, Tyler tells Ingrid he’s leaving. Angry, Ingrid tells Marty about what just happened with Dan. A few days later, Tyler defers to HR, with many people supporting him. However, despite the call to suspend Dan or put him on probation (making him ineligible for partner this year), he instead receives a formal reprimand and a talk. Marty Adler gives a lame excuse, saying Dan has always done an amazing job with his stuff and it would be a waste to suspend him over a few jokes. Dan never got what he deserved, in fact, he was even rewarded for it when he was chosen as one of the new partners. It’s like he didn’t do anything wrong.
Partner Track takes a close look at discrimination
In a fast-paced, high-demand workplace like this, it stands to reason that some things are set in stone. When you have an executive level full of old white men, it’s hard to make real change. Partner path tackles this by making characters like Ingrid and Tyler the ones who challenge those kinds of people. The way these two approach these things isn’t always smooth, but it shows the authenticity behind the push. Sexism and racism are addressed here with such vulnerability but without hesitation because it is what it is in many workplaces, even though it shouldn’t be.
There’s still a lot to iron out, thanks to the show’s cliffhanger, but without official renewal confirmation, we won’t be getting the answers anytime soon. So in the meantime, you can watch season 1 of Partner path which is now available on Netflix.