From the moment Viola Davis’s cunning smile and Criminal Law 100 introduction lit up my screen, I knew I was in for a wild ride. The continuously rolling and increasingly elaborate plot proved me right, and the two of six seasons I’ve watched have left me wondering what else could possibly be in store. Of course, the ShondaLand team responsible for this show keeps coming up with ways to shock me, and I look forward to more twists and turns as I continue to stream it (thank you Netflix!).
Of all the shows I’ve consumed in my 22 years of life, I have yet to be as impressed as I am with the female characters on How to Get Away With Murder. The sheer collective complexity of the students, professors, and lawyers that demand attention is monumental. Each of the women are diverse in thought process, sexuality, background, race, and strengths, though they all share the innate ability to look out for themselves and stand tall in incredibly trying circumstances. Laurel, Bonnie, Michaela, and Annalise are powerful women who make no apologies about who they are or what they want.
As a main character, Annaliese Keating is especially unique. When you think of most action, thriller, or mystery movies, there is often a man at the center of the plot exuding energy that says: “I’m in charge. I’ll handle this. I always do, don’t I?” In HTGAWM, it is Professor Keating who pulls all of the strings and knows how to mastermind courtrooms, crime scenes, and more. She doesn’t have to be a perfect role model or a stereotypical heroine to exude power–she does so by being morally gray, intellectual, empathetic, and scheming. Keating stands up to the status quo, takes down her legal enemies, and uses others’ biased perspectives to her advantage. She acts selfishly and unselfishly, causes harm and cleans up messes, and is both thorny and gentle. Women are capable of being anything, and therefore Annalise Keating is everything!
In theme, the show also highlights the many ways women have to adapt to their less-than-ideal circumstances or the prejudices around them. Whether that be within relationships, family dynamics, academics, or class structure, they are both vulnerable and bold in the face of hardship. The almost magnified look into their heads brings in a sense of psychology not often achieved in other series. From creation to its sad cancellation, How to Get Away With Murder provides a well-rounded sense of storytelling with female characters more than equipped to be the main players in executing it. Thankfully, it is still on Netflix for viewing and stands as an example of Shonda Rhimes’s epic television tenure. Happy watching!