We were offered TV shows to review, and the one that piqued my interest was the new entry for this season, How to Get Away with Murder by popular showrunner Shonda Rhimes. The show stars Viola Davis as headstrong attorney Annalise Keating, who also teaches first year law. I’d not watched any episodes up until the time we received the DVD. I did research ahead of time and knew that the reviews were very strong. Now that I have seen the show, I must admit I don’t understand all the love for this series. The overall performances range from middling to strong, but my main issue with How to Get Away with Murder is that much of it doesn’t make sense to me.
The season begins with Keating teaching her new first year law students. Very quickly, 5 students are singled out for interning with Keating, which pretty much means that they cannot attend any other classes, have a college life, and sex will be used to procure information. They will work from morning through night on cases for no money and will be scolded if they don’t do a good enough job. These five students will also question witnesses and be part of a never-ending barrage of court cases. At one point, one of the characters asks if he can leave early, and is told he can if he gets his work done. Why is he (and the others) on call 24/7 and needing to work all day? And did I mention the sex? Oh – I did, but not to the extent that it is shown. Sex in bathrooms, sex in cars, sex for information and even shown while an autopsy is performed. The show has more of the feel of a Netflix Original than a prime time drama. It is also very fast paced, unlike real life court cases.
The unofficial class title is “How to Get Away With Murder”, and there is a murder in the first season (really two – one of a character we know and one of a character that is only shown in flashbacks). The show is told both in flashbacks and current, so who is killed is shown very early on. And who is involved with the murder is also shown early into the series. Other details are filled in as the show progresses.
Viola Davis plays a very strong character and is a very talented actress. But even as someone who has never been in criminal court, it is pretty obvious that there is much going on that doesn’t make sense. Davis has great arms (think Michelle Obama) but they don’t belong in a courtroom. First year law students – and I did research this – are learning, not working nonstop on cases. And almost nobody else in the classroom – when it is shown – is called on. What is up with that?
I still have a few episodes left (there are 4 discs), but I’ve never warmed up to any of the characters. It isn’t that the actors aren’t each fine in their own way, but it doesn’t matter to me what happens to them…except for Oliver (Conrad Ricamora), he is the one character I have connected with. And the celebrations for an innocent man thrown in jail has disappointed me. I know it isn’t real, but I don’t find much to celebrate with the series. I expect to stop with the first season, unless more realism can be brought in (though I am not expecting that).
That said, if you enjoy How to Get Away with Murder, there are some bonus features here you might be interested in, including bloopers and deleted scenes.
Mousesteps Grade: C