Cayla Bush/ Staff Writer
“How to Get Away with Murder,” the newest member of the Shondaland line up, has been a critics’ favorite since its premier in September of 2014, and for good reason.
The show focuses on Annalise Keating, played by Viola Davis, a lawyer who doubles as a professor at the Middleton University in Pennsylvania; five of her students, known as the “Keating Five”; and her two closest business associates as they tread the line between fighting for justice and disrupting the justice system.
Davis excels as a strong lead, who dances effortlessly between a powerful, in-control woman and a frail barely-there basket case. A rare occurrence on television, she’s a multifaceted woman struggling with more than her quest to find love.
In fact, Keating is more focused on her career than her love life, which is a breath of fresh air in its Thursday-night line up.
The Keating Five comprises Wes Gibbins, Connor Walsh, Michaela Pratt, Asher Millstone and Laurel Castillo, each representing a different subsection of American universities, an illustration of how carefully and deliberately crafted the writing of the show is.
Gibbins, portrayed by “Harry Potter’s” Alfred Enoch, represents the lower-class students who dedicate their lives to achieving academically to escape their neighborhoods. Walsh, played by Jack Falahee represents the pretty boy used to getting his way with a wink and a grin, especially with men.
Pratt is a complex character dedicated to continually appearing flawless while also struggling with finding acceptance from the wealthy class she’s struggled to assimilate into. Aja Naomi King artfully portrays both the prude and uptight and sexually exploring versions of Pratt.
Millstone is the born-rich, coddled kid whose daddy paid to have all his troubles go away, and is played by Matt McGory from “Orange is the New Black.” Castillo, played by Karla Souza functions as the token white girl who serves as the glue of the group who manages to keep a level-head when things get tough.
The strength of the show is in its writing. Unlike its Thursday-night counterparts on ABC, the female lead doesn’t have the time or energy to relentlessly pine after men, isn’t afraid to speak her mind, and is quick on her feet. Though she has a team to aid her, she doesn’t only rely on them to get things done. It’s obvious that Keating is calling the shots.
The cliff-hangers the show relies on each week are just dramatic enough to keep viewers tuning in, but not so over-the-top that they become gimmicky. I also like the way the story is told, bouncing between flashbacks and real-time to weave together a well-rounded story.
Season one of “How to Get Away with Murder” is available for streaming on Netflix and Hulu, with some episode available On Demand. Season two airs Thursday nights on ABC at 10 p.m.
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