How to Get Away with MURDER! — A Tutorial

Viola Davis stars in the new ABC drama How to Get Away with MURDER
How to Get Away with Murder (Photo: Nicole Rivelli / ABC)

Following the traditions set by Revenge and Scandal, the new legal drama How to Get Away with Murder is the over the top dramarama we have been clamoring for.

How to Get Away with Murder1 is the story of Annalise Keating (Viola Davis), a defense attorney and professor of criminal law in Philadelphia. We enter this world via Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch), a first-year law student. In the pilot, each person in the class is tasked with coming up with a unique defense strategy for Keating’s current client. Those who pass Keating’s standard move on to assisting her with the case, with five becoming permanent interns, with the top of the class winning the Scales of Justice Immunity Idol (pictured above).

The case this week involves a woman who probably murdered her husband by switching his medication with aspirin, which he was allergic to. In the process of this task we learn about how the characters think. Gibbins swings for the fences, coming up with an elaborate Stockholm Syndrome self-defense theory, which intrigues Keating even though Gibbins lacks the confidence to support it. Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King) relies on her resourcefulness, such as pretending to be 1-800 Contacts to look up a witness’s prescription to lead to discrediting her. Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee) has no problem sleeping with whatever guy will give him the information he needs.2 Asher Millstone (Matt McGorry) is your typical law school bro while Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza) is your typical law school…whatever the female equivalent of bro would be.

The first season is only 13 episodes, which is perfect. Like Revenge in its first season, the show has set up the plot device of starting the action at one point and then flashing back to three months earlier. The moment in the present: the interns disposing the body of Sam Keating (Tom Verica)—the husband of their professor. We have the starting point, we have the end point, and the next 12 weeks will be the jagged and squiggly line connecting those two points. We already know Annalise is stepping out on her husband with Detective Nate Leahy (Billy Brown) who was investigating her current case.3

If you have abandoned Scandal and are leery about trying out another Shondaland entry, How to Get Away with Murder may be your jam. The characters speak in different cadences and there is not nearly as much scenery chewing. I was experiencing some classroom anxiety as Davis lectured her students, so there’s no doubt she has Annalise Keating nailed down. This will be the most-talked about series this fall.

  1. A somewhat unwieldy title, especially where hashtags are concerned. BUT, a ton of fun to say if you end it with “…MURDER!”  
  2. Sidebar: The ads featuring the guy-on-guy action may have been a major selling point. Progressivism! What?  
  3. Adding an “Ewwwww” element to her rule of “Bury the Evidence.”  

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About Mike McComb 1086 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: