By Anna O'brian
Who doesn't like a good legal drama? Who could resist a murder mystery? How to Get Away With Murder is the newest series to combine these in a thrilling drama. HTGAWM premiered on Sept. 25; it runs every Thursday at 10 p.m. on ABC.
The series is executively produced by Shonda Rhimes and plays on the same night as Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, which she also produces. Rhimes’ supervising producer of Grey’s Anatomy, Peter Norwalk, created the idea for the show and now writes this bold new series.
Two-time Oscar nominated actress Viola Davis plays the intimidating, complex character of Annalise Keating. She is a criminal defense attorney and professor of Criminology 101, or as she likes to call it, How to Get Away With Murder, at the fictitious Middleton University.
The season premiere opens at the scene of a murder during a traditional campus bonfire. Five students are found in the middle of the woods, contemplating the next step to cover up their crime. As they contemplate a decision, the scene changes to three months earlier: the first day of law school, quickly discrediting our first impressions that they are cold-blooded murderers.
Introducing a split plot line, Keating chooses five students to join her law firm. They are hyper-competitive law students who would do anything to impress their ruthless professor, even commit homicide. The series continues to show the experience of the students as they work with Keating on various cases that transfix the audience.
Many of HTGAWM’s main characters are featured in other notable shows. Keating’s associate, played by Liza Weil, is also a character in Scandal. Law student Asher, played by Matt McGorry, is a guard in Orange is the New Black. And troubled student Rebecca, played by Katie Findley, stars in The Carrie Diaries. Each of these roles is very different from their fierce roles in HTGAWM.
HTGAWM is not only engrossing, but revolutionary. The series embraces diversity with a strong female black lead and two additional black protagonists: students Michaela Pratt, played by Aja Naomi King, and Wes Gibbons, played by Alfred Enoch. HTGAWM also acknowledges homosexuality. One main character, Connor Walsh, played by Jack Falahee, is explicitly gay. In the first episode, he seduces a man to get evidence for one of Keating’s cases. Walsh continues his relationship with this man quite graphically and intimately. This portrayal of a gay relationship is intentionally genuine and powerful.
HTGAWM is quick, sharp and smart. It keeps the audience guessing, and always has something new to keep it entertaining. It’s the most progressive, provocative and promising new TV series.