When you plop on the couch, drained from your day to day, kicking off your shoes, lashing out for the remote, what are you in the mood for? Sometimes you want to watch something that puts you and your mind at peace, one that will remind you of all the good in people’s heart……Or you might want to find a show so consumed with scandalous drama at its core that it makes you re-evaluate your life and why it isn’t nearly as interesting. The encompassed boredom of your life becomes evident as you say to yourself,” I too can have an affair with the President!” Yet that is Shonda Rhimes’ other appropriately named shows, we are talking about “How to get Away with Murder.”
As an avid hater of direct similes when it comes to TV Shows, “How to get Away With Murder” feels like a Turduken of sorts. See, you take “Scandal”, stuff it up “Grey’s Anatomy”, then gently lather it with “Desperate Housewives”-like hijinks, you have the show in a gist. It is a show where we can see Rhymes having the most fun with her signature writing style.
Cinematics(Plot, Acting, Cinematography, etc.)
So let us get to the characters, as they are what will draw you in or scare you away from this show. Unlike most, there are key characters but seemingly no discernable main character. At least not in the traditional sense. They all get equal screen time, possibly to play into another agenda that I will go into later. Viola Davis (“The Help”) leads the charge as the witty but stern high powered Attorney/Professor Annalise Keating. She despises self-doubt and demands unquestioning loyalty from her protégés of which she has many. Alfred Enoch plays one such student named Wes Gibbons. He is just the right amount of quirky, clumsy, unassured, self-doubter that you know will be molded into her spitting image by show’s end. What is interesting is that this role would usually be portrayed by a female character. Having a male play this role breaths fresh air into an old format. The other students are perfectly rounded out cast of quiet type played by Karla Souza, spoiled over achiever played by Aja King, gay master of manipulation played by Jack Falahee, and that one guy who thinks he is funny but really isn’t, Matt McGorry (it is not him, it’s the role he plays).
Immediately after watching the first episode I started getting strong vibes of Glenn Close and Rose Byrne’s relationship portrayed in another show,”Damages”. This is entirely a good thing and if you have seen it you know what I am talking about. Davis bats her students around like play things but in the end you know it is to toughen them for what is to come…….which they foreshadow to viewers at the beginning of every episode. For fear of getting to Spoilery, that is all I will say about that.
Now after you see the cast you might be a bit taken by what could appear to be Power Ranger-esque levels of “We represent all colors of the rainbow here”. Many of the central characters are black, a rarity of itself. It also may appear to be pandering to any definable audience who would dare watch a show with this premise. I comfort myself in Rhime’s method for casting. I distinctly remember reading somewhere or another that she tends to steer away from ever defining her characters by race and sometimes gender. She thinks of a personality, and casts whomever can portray that role best. This is how we were blessed with the snarky bitch that is Christina Yang (Sandra Oh I love you…) famous from the “Grey’s Anatomy” series. From what I have seen so far of this show, I can agree with every cast decision without much hesitation.
From day one Davis’s character pits her students against one another to earn her affection and respect. Like any good mother hen, she knows that competition forces people to be better than themselves. It is also used as a tool to figure out a person’s true character. Each episode sets us on one of Annalise’s case files, trying to prove someone’s innocence (whether they are or not). Her students scramble to assist to the best of their ability, going above and beyond to appease her. Even breaking the law at times. For instance, Falahee’s character Connor is not above sleeping with anyone that can get him closer to the prize. Some of the characters struggle with their moral compass, something a good lawyer must get a handle on in their career. Annalise’s stance on the matter is pretty black and white. The actual innocence of her client is none of her concern. The snobby Michaela Pratt, portrayed by Aja King, is so assured of what her life will be that anything that contradicts that vision is unacceptable. The format of the show will take you from Classroom, to the Courtroom, and back to each character’s home for some personal reflection.
The show throws in quite a few twist and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat while screaming “WHAT?!” to no one in particular. It is just the right amount of Soapy goodness that you will want to lather up with to take your mind off of your own problems and live through someone else’s for a change. It’s an emotional roller coaster ride you have learned to love or hate while watching Rhimes other shows, this one will not disappoint.
Once you get swept up in the implausible antics you will find it hard to stop. Solid casting of unknowns, a titillating premise, and quirky dialogue makes HTGAWM very entertaining. So every week expect to be glued to your couch, rocking your sweat pants, junk food on hand, ready to immerse yourself in some more over the top melodramatic salacious storytelling. I advise recommending this show to any of your friends with similar needs, because bringing someone else in on the “What the… did you see what just happened?” moments is half of the fun with this kind of show.