Thursday, September 25, 2014

ABC’s ‘Murder’ is Riveting and Morally Ambiguous

Review of "How to Get Away with Murder."
ABC's "How to Get Away with Murder" stars Viola Davis
 as Professor Annalise Keating, Billy Brown as Nate, 
Alfred Enoch as Wes, Jack Falahee as Connor, 
Katie Findlay as Rebecca, Aja Naomi King as Michaela, 
Matt McGorry as Asher, Karla Souza as Laurel, 
Charlie Weber as Frank and Liza Weil as Bonnie.
 (ABC/Craig Sjodin) 
In short, ABC’s new drama, How to Get Away with Murder is riveting. The pilot held my attention all the way through making it hard to wait to see the next episode. It is a well done show with multiple layers to it. However, like Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy, two other shows by the same producers, the storylines are not only way over the top but also morally ambiguous. It appears that there are no “good guys” here, so you are not sure who to root for. It is like watching a train wreak being horrified and fascinated at the same time.

Murder flashes back and forth from the present time and three months earlier. In the present, a group of four law students contemplate what to do with a dead body. Three months earlier, we learn that they are all part of Annalise Keating’s criminal law class. Keating (Viola Davis) chews up every scene that she is in as the tough as nails law professor. There is nothing soft or fuzzy about her and in order to stand out in her classroom, you need to go to great lengths to impress her.

Keating doesn’t see her job as letting guilty people run free. She views it as “doing her job.” In short order we see that she doesn’t condone finding evidence to support her client even if it isn’t obtained in the most ethical way. She invites her students to work with her firm on some of the toughest cases and dangles the carrot of employment as an enticement to impress her. Only the smartest and most resourceful students will get that carrot. To complicate matters, a missing student is found dead on campus, adding yet another murder to solve.