How To Get Away With Murder Season 1 (ABC)

I offer my thoughts on the first season of ABC’s hit crime drama, How to Get Away with Murder, starring Viola Davis and Alfred Enoch. It is created by Peter Nowak and produced by Shonda Rhimes.

There were actually, as it turns out, very few shows that I stuck with from the new series that started in the fall period of last year. Apart from the new comic book shows, Gotham, Constantine, The Flash and Marvel’s Agent Carter, they were limited to Forever, a crime procedural featuring an immortal man, and well, How To Get Away With Murder, which recently wrapped up its first season after a thrilling, fast-paced series that concluded this Thursday, with two excellent episodes that really made sure that it was one of the strongest shows to come out of that bunch, with a very exciting ending that should set the stage for the second season very well indeed.
How To Get Away With Murder follows a group of ambitious law students, who find themselves selected out of their class by their professor, Annalise Keating (Viola Davis, who will play Amanda Waller in the upcoming Suicide Squad film). However, she and her students find themselves having to apply practical knowledge from their course to a murder plot which they have become entangled with, which is about to shake the entire University that they attend to the core as well as change each of their lives for good as they try to get away with murder.
The student who acts as our way into the series is Wes Gibbins (Harry Potter’s Alfred Enoch), who acts as a fish-out-of-water type who quickly finds himself adapting to work with his fellow students. There’s the ruthless and narcissistic Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee), the cocky douchebag Asher Millstone (Matt McGory), the ambitious Michela Pratt (Aja Naomi King) and the idealistic Laurel Castillo (Kaira Souza). Whilst you’ll struggle to remember the names of these five, (I had to look up all of their second names, for instance, and some of their first names), their faces are pretty recognisable and their characters start to become more fleshed out over the series due to competent actors who put out good performances. The show uses flashfowards to illustrate just how much these students have changed over the course of the series, and by the season’s end, they’re in a very different place to what they were at the beginning. The central mystery at first seems like a very simple “whodunit?” but by the end of the first episode alone, there are far more added layers of depths as it’s never really revealed who the culprit is (which is, admittedly surprising, and with a twist that I didn’t see coming), until the final episode via a flashback.
The pace drives the story along at a fantastic speed and one thing’s for sure, you will never be bored when watching this show – it’s fast, energetic, captivating and entertaining with multiple plot twists per episode. Yes, there may be a few twists that may seem a bit too over the top, but they’re still for the most part, handled really well as we get to explore other characters who aren’t necessarily Keating’s five as well. Viola Davis of course steals the show as Annalise Keating, putting in a breathtaking performance as the lead character, who gets the most amount of development as a well rounded, complex figure with secrets of her own. Her husband, Sam (Tom Verica), who had an affair with the murdered girl, Lilia Stangard (Megan West), prior to her murder, which sets the plot in motion, is also given plenty of attention as well and it’s interesting to watch how everybody changes over the course of the season, with no character being in the same place at the beginning as they are at the end.
Compromising of fifteen episodes, How To Get Away With Murder originally starts off as a case-of-the-week series with interlocking plots via the flashfowards, which are heavily serialized. However, as the season progresses, and particularly by the latter half, when the flashfowards get caught up with the main story, the aftermath is handled very well and it’s clear to see that this series doesn’t lose any momentum at all.
Whilst the concept of the series might not be the most original out there, it remains one of the most fun series on TV to watch, consistently captivating. If you’re a fan of Scandal, another Shonda Rhimes produced show, then you’ll certainly dig How To Get Away With Murder. It hits a similar tone, and if you like fast paced mysteries then you’ll probably enjoy this show as well, and Viola Davis’ acting really helps sell the drama.

VERDICT: 8/10
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