First Impressions

How to Get Away With Murder

Aired on: ABC

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

                From the very first promotional commercial I saw advertising How to Get Away With Murder, starring Viola Davis, I couldn’t wait to watch it.  I’ve loved Viola Davis’ work in The Help and I was excited to see her on a dramatic television series created by Shonda Rimes, of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal fame.  So, I was front and center when How to Get Away with Murder aired on September 25, 2014 at 10pm EST.

                In How to Get Away With Murder, Viola Davis is Annalise Keating, defense attorney and professor at Middelton University with a slight issue with ethics.  Her class has a huge waiting list and she is known to be hard on her students, but the best students in the class have an opportunity to become working members in Keating’s law firm, so, for most students, the class is worth the wait and pressure.

                The first episode of How to Get Away with Murder begins with four of Keating’s students attempting to figure out what to do with a dead body.  Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that these students – new and slightly behind the ball Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch), cocky Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee), idealist Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza) and ambitious overachiever Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King) – moved to the head of the class by helping Keating defend a woman accused of attempting to kill her lover.  That the woman is truly guilty of the crime is no matter to Keating.  Only that she provides the best defense possible to get her client off.

                While a number of the students in Keating’s class have no difficulty coming up with ways, ethical or otherwise, to aide in defending Keating’s client, Wes is struggling.  When he does come up with an idea, racing over to Keating’s office/home to tell her finds her in a compromising position with someone other than her professor husband (Tom Verica).  Keeping this to himself may be one of the real reasons behind his being selected to the team.

                Meanwhile, a college sorority sister, girlfriend of the college's star quarterback (Lenny Platt), is found dead.  By the end of the first episode, we note that Keating has a sneaking suspicion as to who the murderer might be.  By the second episode, she is frantic, believing that her husband may be involved. 

                And all the while, we watch the students - in the present - make preparations to get rid of the body and the murder weapon.  But it's who they are trying to get rid of that makes this most intriguing, making you ask who really killed this person...and why?

                By now, we have Shonda Rimes' formula down.  There is always a group of individuals involved in some sort of plot, scandalous or not.  The group always consists of good looking, sexy characters with hidden pasts.  Their leader is always someone with a tough as nails exterior, but a surprising hidden vulnerability.  There will always be a bunch of sex, hetero or homosexual...and pretty explicit at that.  There will always be a scandal, secret or even scandalous secret to uncover.  And there will be plenty of drama.

                So, knowing that this formula always plays out during one of Shonda Rimes' series, why is How to Get Away With Murder a show we want to watch?  It's addictive.  Each of the characters in this series are trying to get away with murder, both figuratively and literally.  The fun for the audience is figuring out the mystery of the day in the different cases Keating and her team are working on each episode and the mystery of the season as we watch the team try to get rid of the evidence of a murder they find themselves involved in.  America is addicted to scandal and we have to know all the sordid details.

                Now, there are some parts of this show that I am not happy with, but they are minor moments in the plot, ignorable thanks to the excellent acting of the cast and the plot twists presented to viewers by the writers.  I liked the show enough to watch two episodes by now and have found no reason not to tune in to a third episode of How to Get Away With Murder next Thursday.  Shonda Rimes knows how to get someone addicted to her television series and I can honestly say, I am already hooked to this one.


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