What I Think About…”How To Get Away With Murder”

I’ve been wanting to start up a little “series” of talking about what I think about certain popular things, be it a celebrity, a movie, a TV show or even various news stories. I’ll try to do this once a week. So to kick this off, I’m going to talk about the new Shonda Rhimes show on ABC, “How To Get Away With Murder” (HTGAWM) starring Viola Davis. If you’re unfamiliar, Shonda Rhimes created “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Private Practice” and “Scandal”. She had another show, “Off The Map”, but that didn’t last long at all. Maybe just one season, if that.

Let me stop. If you haven’t seen HTGAWM and plan on watching, STOP READING!! I’m about to spoil it all for you in 3…2…1….

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First off, I’m going to be honest and say that I wish the title was shorter. *LOL* I know, that’s dumb, but I’m being real. Why couldn’t it have been called, “Murder 101” or something short and sweet? Ehh, I’m just being difficult. 🙂 I will say, when they promo’d the show, I loved how Viola’s character said the title of the show. That alone, drew me into watching the show! She said it so devilishly and deviously, I was like, “Awwww man! This is gonna be GOOD!”

The Set-Up:
Grade: B/B-

The set-up of the show is decent. You’ve got a law professor who’s also a criminal defense attorney. She takes four students along with her as interns and each week (I presume), they’ll try new cases together. (Side note: This was part of the plot to the movie Legally Blonde.) Since this is TV, I don’t have a problem with this, but I think we all know that in real life, this whole “take your students to work” thing wouldn’t fly.

I wanted to break things down show by show, but I’m going to be honest and say the first episode is such a blur to me. There was a LOT going on. The second ep was a little better, but still felt a bit rushed. And because I want to get this post out, I’m going to just talk about what I remember. One thing I wanted to point out was all the flash-forwards. I’m not a huge fan of flash-forwards (or flashbacks) in TV/movies, mostly because a lot of times, they aren’t executed that well. In movies, it’s a little better, simply because they have more time to do it justice. But on TV, it’s harder and like I said, sometimes they’re (the show) is just doing too much. I just personally like a story to be told as is, from start to finish. However, I would’ve been fine if HTGAWM did the entire first episode from the flash-forward perspective. If that happened, it would’ve been so much clearer as to what the hell was happening with the murder cover-up. They could’ve told it that way up until the last 20-25 min and then brought you to present day with the students starting Annalise’s class.

Personally, it took me until this last episode to put everything together. And now, I feel like I want to continue watching to find out what happens. I wanted to also mention the pace of the show. Looks like they’re trying to establish a fast pace. I’m cool with fast-paced shows. I was a huge fan of The West Wing, so I’m down for that. But for some reason, I couldn’t keep up with the pace in HTGAWM. Again, I definitely feel like I missed a few things in the first episode because of the pace and the flash-forwards. Last week’s episode, however, seems to have slowed down which was better (for me).

Overall, what they’ve established so far in the show is ok. I’m finally feeling intrigued and not confused. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely oblivious as to what’s happening, but there were times when I had to think, “Wait, what’s happening?” or “Why did they do this again?” There are a lot of moving parts to this show, so the only major flaw I would say is that they introduced too much too soon. Sometimes, I don’t need to see everything at once. Letting it build creates intrigue and suspense!

The Characters:
Grade: B/B-

Annalise Keating: I like Viola Davis. She’s a wonderful actress. Granted, I have not seen many of her movies or TV shows, but from what I have seen, she’s always been solid. But, I feel some kind of way about her in this role. And when you feel some kind of way about an actress on a show, sometimes it’s not always because of her acting. It could be the writing. It could be how she’s being directed. So, while I think she’s a fine actress, there’s just something about her character that’s amiss for me. It’s only been 3 episodes, so things can change. I assume, they’re (the writers) trying to set us up for what’s to come with her character.

So far, my biggest issue is with this split/dual personality they’re trying to establish. Now look, I think it’s completely believable that a woman (or man, for that matter) can be completely strong and fearless in one moment, then be the exact opposite the next. But what I don’t believe is her responses to being in Nate’s (her lover) presence. In the last two episodes, she’s been a serious mess! In the second episode, I let it go. She was obviously upset that her husband could possibly be involved with the murder of his student. But in this last episode, when Nate got into the car, she was teary/shaken/out of breath! I mean, c’mon! Let’s not do this crying thing every time she’s with Nate. Did they have to have her show THAT much emotion? I understand reacting that way if Nate said, “Guess what? Your husband murdered his student”. Ok, THAT’S when you get super emotional with the heaving chest and all. But Nate hadn’t even said anything! He just got into the car, handed her the file and she’s an automatic basket-case! #confused

And granted, she’s into Nate. Hell, she may even love the guy. But we don’t know how long they’ve been lovers or anything of the sort. To us, it comes across as a relatively new thing. Maybe they’ve been creeping with each other for a month or two. I don’t know. But I just think the writers/director are making her show a little too much vulnerability with a guy she’s just sleeping with and might like a lot. Again, I get it, she’s really into him. And they are clearly trying to show this other side of her personality. But there’s got to be another way to show that without her falling into a weepy, out of breath mess, right? It’s just too much and too obvious. I would’ve loved for her to put on a strong face in front of him, THEN break down after he leaves. Isn’t that a touch more realistic? I know, it’s TV, but seriously, we can do better than this, HTGAWM!

All I know is, if she starts crying in the fourth episode around this guy, I’m gonna write the show! #stopthecrying 😛

Other than the personality issue, I don’t have any other complaints. I like her as a professor and attorney. I’d like to see her in the professor role a little bit more, but I get that the audience could get a little bored by that aspect. Having her in the courtroom and figuring out ways to defend her clients is where the excitement comes in. However, from this last episode, it’s apparent (to me) that they will use the classroom as a medium to help the audience understand what’s going to happen in the courtroom/with the clients. I guess I missed that in the previous two episodes. If that’s how the remainder of the season will go, I’m cool with that. It’s nice to get that sort of background before they start researching the cases.

Wes Gibbons: I kept saying that I knew this actor from somewhere, but couldn’t place my finger on it. Then my husband was like, he was in Harry Potter. YES! He played “Dean”!!! So, because I’m a big HP fan, Alfred Enoch is already a winner in my book. 😀 He didn’t get to say much in the HP movies, but hey, that’s ok. He represented for the people. 😉

Anyway, as Wes, I guess he’s the character that we’re supposed to root for. We meet Wes and he ends up being dubbed “waitlist” as he started school without being prepared for his first class because he had just been called off the waitlist to attend. You’re thinking, ok this is going to be the “slow kid”, meaning he’s always going to be struggling to keep up. You’re starting to wonder how this guy even made it to law school. Then you see him always attempting to study and present himself as really trying to prove himself. Then fast forward through all of the flash-forwards and you see he’s gotten himself romantically involved with his goth eccentric next door neighbor, Rebecca, who just got arrested for the murder of some sorority girl. Umm, #wtf?? Looks like he has a bit more depth than we thought!

At first, I was a little shocked by his involvement with Rebecca. And then I thought, wait, this isn’t that surprising. I should’ve known something more was going to happen with the two of them because…TV and it’s Shonda Rhimes. There always has to be a weird curveball thrown in her shows somewhere. Sorry, but I dislike the idea Wes & Rebecca together. It’s too odd of a couple. And I’m not sure what their involvement together does/will do for the show. But, it’s only the third episode, so it all remains to be seen.

The REST of them:

I’m going to make this quick and dirty: The rest of the “star students” are not interesting at all to me at this point. Connor (the gay guy) is annoying. I don’t find any of this quips funny. Michaela, the black girl, isn’t exciting. I keep thinking, “Wow, she’s so Lisa Turtle 2.0”. Laurel, the other girl, is blah. Her thing for Frank (Annalise’s associate) is… zzzZZZ. And I say that because Frank is trying to play tough guy, but then obviously has a soft spot for Laurel, so he clearly plays favorites to her. Ugh, dude, really? Stop. Just stop. Speaking of Frank, so we find out he’s NOT a lawyer. Sooo, what is he exactly?? That was a weird discovery. Then Asher, the last guy, is also annoying.

I found myself wishing they could’ve gotten a couple other known actors/actresses for the show. I don’t think the acting is bad, it’s clearly the storylines so far that are boring to me. But, when you have better actors, they can up the ante with the writing/directing. There is Bonnie (Annalise’s other associate) who is played by Liza Weil. She used to be on Gilmore Girls (as Paris) and I enjoyed her character/acting back then, so I’m happy to see her on the show. It’s funny, out of everyone, I wonder how her character will develop. For a second, I almost thought we were going to find out she was in an affair with Sam (Annalise’s husband). They’re body language while they were in the kitchen (3rd ep) was interesting. Soooo, we’ll see. Maaaybe there’s something there? *shrugs* OH, I almost forgot about Annalise’s husband, Sam. Umm, well, he gets killed, so yeah, there’s that. After these few episodes, I’m glad!! Sorry, but he bores me too. Perhaps we’ll see more of Nate then? 🙂

Wrap-up:

I think the show has good potential. But, frankly my dears, I’m really a bit bored. I know, there are some exciting things happening, but I don’t find them exciting. Instead, I find them a little standard. A little unoriginal. And definitely, a bit soap opera-y. I’m not one for soaps, so if they start getting too dramatic for the sake of drama, then I’ll have to leave this show alone.

For me, I like a solid plot, with a few twists here and there. I like really good dialogue. I like shows that make me think. I feel like HTGAWM is trying to make me think, but it’s also distracting me with other things so I can’t really think about what’s going on. It’s like, I want to know who killed the sorority girl, but wait, what’s up with Wes and Rebecca??!! And wait, what’s up with Annalise and Nate and Sam!!? See what I mean? Dare I say it, but this same thing happened on Scandal. After the first season, the focus wasn’t on solving the scandalous cases, it focused more on the whole Olivia/Fitz situation. It’s funny to hear how sooo many people are over the two of them now and happy that she moved on to Jake. Man, I was over Olivia and Fitz before they even really started! *lol*

Anyway, I don’t know if HTGAWM will do it for me. I’m going to try to get through this first season. I’ll also try to get in another review after a few more episodes.

Have you seen HTGAWM?! What do you think? Share your thoughts!

-t

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