More and more as the years have gone on has Shonda Rhimes become a television powerhouse, working as an executive producer on some of American network ABC’s biggest hitters. The Shondaland brand encompasses long-running medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, Kerry Washington’s White House-set Scandal and the more recent How to Get Away with Murder.
Having never watched any of Rhimes’ other flagship shows, my expectations going into How to Get Away with Murder were leaning heavily on its star: the brilliant Viola Davis. The actress plays university professor and defence attorney Annalise Keating as she leads a team of students – named the Keating Five – through their hands-on legal education. While this sounds like enough plot for a series in itself, the drama is ramped up even further as Keating, her aides and her students become embroiled in dark and violent crimes of their own.
Whether Keating is commanding a lecture theatre, courtroom or her own home, Davis is undoubtedly the show’s driving force. She steals every scene in which she appears with her unmatched gravitas, absolutely justifying her Emmy win for her work in season one. There is no weak link among the Keating Five either: Alfred Enoch, Karla Souza, Aja Naomi King, Jack Falahee and Matt McGorry all deliver unique and inspired performances. You may recognise McGorry as Bennett from Netflix’s Orange is the New Black and Enoch as the Harry Potter series’ Dean Thomas, but it is in these roles that all five actors finally have their chance to shine. It is Souza as the fiery Laurel Castillo that most impressed me, with her performance surely ushering in a lengthy career for the actress.
Something else that sets How to Get Away with Murder apart from many other TV series in the genre is the diversity of its cast. There are characters from a wide variety of racial backgrounds, and many who identify from across the entire spectrum of sexuality. When comparing this to shows like Suits or The Good Wife, the Rhimes-driven effort – like many of her other projects – really stands out from the crowd.
One issue that I did have with the show, particularly as it progressed into its second season, was the laughable amount of twists and turns that the plot was taking. As each episode came to its often highly dramatic climax, it seemed as if there was yet another shocking character betrayal, exposé or even – you guessed it – murder. However, despite this borderline-ridiculousness, the show’s cliff-hangers certainly make it one of the most bingeable on TV.
If you’re looking for a fast-paced, yet often emotional, watch to carry you through the festive period, I would certainly recommend How to Get Away with Murder. Its first three seasons are currently streaming on Netflix, and weighing up at a sizeable 15 episodes each, there’s certainly enough material to keep you busy... that is if the consistent intrigue doesn’t force you to finish the whole thing off as soon as humanly possible because, trust me, it’s easily done.