I have posted before about how September always makes me think of school and so I’ve been thinking a lot this month about TV series set in academic settings. One recent series that came to mind was How to Get Away With Murder, which just concluded it’s sixth and final season in May.
I remember trying to watch it religiously when the first season came out in Fall 2014—without giving too much away, I will just say that this show has a fantastic hook—but my work schedule the following year made it impossible to watch it regularly after that. Since the show is now available to stream, I was able to pick up where I left off in Season 2 and catch up to the half-way point in the series.
The show is more of a thriller and crime drama, rather than a traditional detective mystery. As a viewer, you’re watching a crime and the fallout from the crime unfold—along with (often successful) attempts to have this crime covered up. Each season tends to focus on one major event and uses flashback and flash-forward techniques to gradually unveil to you what happened and how it came to happen. This means that, from the very beginning, you’re never really sure which of the characters are actually trustworthy—and therein lies the suspense and the mystery.
At the heart of any mystery series is the cast of characters. This is particularly true of this show, where the relationships between the characters is so central to the plot. So to give you an idea of what this show is about, I profile the primary cast members below. Because I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t yet seen the show, I will just say that each of these characters have skeletons in their closet.
- Annalise Keating (played by Viola Davis) is a criminal defense attorney and law professor at a Pennsylvania university. At the beginning of the series, she is married to a psychiatrist and psychology professor named Sam.
- Bonnie Winterbottom (played by Liza Weil) is an associate at Annalise’s law firm.
- Frank Delfino (played by Charlie Weber) is Annalise’s assistant—part private detective, part fixer.
- The Keating 5 — Five students in Annalise’s introductory law class who have been chosen to intern at her firm: Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch), Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee), Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King), Asher Millstone (Matt McGorry), and Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza).
- Nate Lahey (played by Billy Brown) is Annalise’s lover and a police detective at the beginning of the series.
- Oliver Hampton (played by Conrad Ricamora) is a computer hacker who is dating Connor.
This is a fantastic and engaging show—in the sense that when you start watching it, it’s almost impossible to look away. At the same time, I recognize that this may not be a show for every mystery fan.
For one, if you like episodic murder-of-the-week type shows, then the drawn-out story arcs are a far cry from that.
Second, although the story grips you from the start, you may not actually be able to sit through more than one episode at a time. I find the constant twists and turns of the plot to be exhausting after a while. So personally, I think this is one of those shows that should be enjoyed in small doses.
Where to watch
- You can purchase and watch all the episodes and seasons on Amazon Prime Video.
- The show is also available to stream on Netfix.
- Currently, only the first two seasons are available on DVD.