On the How To Get Away With Murder promo poster in the upper left hand corner, just above the cool stare of Viola Davis’s Professor Keating, are the words “From the Executive Producers of Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy.” Simply from reading these words, without having seen a frame of the show, the audience knows what they’re in for. And if it is slick, intriguing, well-produced melodrama that you want, Murder, the latest from Hollywood television darling, Shonda Rhimes, will not disappoint.
How To Get Away With Murder follows a group of first year law students, namely Wes Gibbins, played by Alfred Enoch of Harry Potter fame, who enroll in a class taught by the sharp and terrifying Annalise Keating (Davis). Keating, a well-respected high profile defence attorney, enlists her class to help create a defence for one of her clients. Succeed, and you may find yourself with a job by year’s end. Fail, and you will be relegated to the bottom of the heap.
While at its core Murder may have more in common with Scandal than Grey’s Anatomy, they all share the same beating heart of intense, thrilling workplace drama. While Enoch’s Gibbons would be loosely described as the show’s “protagonist” and moral compass, there is little doubt that Murder is Davis’s show. Davis’s Professor Keating is the quintessential anti-hero. She’s intense, powerful, intimidating, and even sexy. But most of all, Keating is effective. Rather than teaching from a textbook, Keating throws her students into the deep end, forcing them to sink or swim.
The audience knows from the get go who will survive Keating’s trial by fire. Rather than crafting the episode exclusively around the competition between students, Rhimes opens the show with four students, the aforementioned Gibbins, Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee), Rebecca Sutter (Katie Findlay), and Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King), trying to dispose of an unknown corpse. But instead of ruining the suspense surrounding Professor Keating’s decision, this decision demonstrates to the audience that Murder plans to cast a much wider net than the logline lets on.
It is this sense of intrigue running throughout the show that will bring audiences back week after week. While some may feel that the show’s non-linear storytelling style might distract from the law school melodrama that lives at the heart of Murder, it provides a welcome reprieve from the young professional hijinks and promises to keep the show fresh and constantly evolving. And while the show does suffer a bit from the typical hammy pitfalls of broadcast television shows, it refuses to be boring and for that it must be commended.
How To Get Away With Murder airs Wednesday, October 22nd, at 10pm.