Spoiler alert: This is not, in fact, how you get away with murder.
How to Get Away with Murder is a trashy ensemble drama about a bunch of idiots fucking each other and murdering everyone they know, and also each other. When I heard about it I figured it would be pretty relatable, but it turned out just to be stupid. Obviously I made Sam and everyone watch all six seasons with me.
There are going to be spoilers for all of How to Get Away with Murder in this review, and even though it’s a trash TV show with no redeeming qualities, the whole point of watching it is to be shocked by all the plot contrivances, so if you’re planning to watch it or you haven’t finished it yet, go away.
Basically in the show all these stupid law students end up working as interns for their professor, Viola Davis (which I admit is a good choice), and then in between fucking each other and fucking her other employees and doing law or something, they also kill Viola Davis’s husband and then instead of going to the police, they let Viola Davis convince them that they can get away with it.
In order to get away with it, they frame her boyfriend, kidnap one of the students’ girlfriends, kill the girlfriend, kill Viola Davis’s boyfriend’s wife, kill the DA who’s investigating them, let their incesty clients die, kill the rich dude who is secretly the main student’s dad, kill the main student, kill the rando assassin who killed the main student, shoot a guy in the head, deport that now holy man to Pakistan, destroy a bunch of evidence, get a bunch of people fired for no reason, hack into everything, get Viola Davis’s boyfriend’s dad killed, kill another DA while a baby watches, get another of their friends killed by the FBI, kill the evil telecommunications mogul’s son, possibly kill Marcia Gay Harden, and then also kill the governor of Pennsylvania after they’ve gotten away with killing all the other people.
Along the way, they discover that Viola Davis likes the main student because she accidentally got his mom killed in the backstory, that another student’s dad runs an evil telecommunications company that is also the mob, that Viola Davis slept with another student’s dad, that Viola Davis’s dead backstory baby was killed by the main student’s evil dad with the help of her employee who is secretly her husband’s incest baby with his sister Marcia Gay Harden, that Viola Davis used to date Famke Janssen, and also they all date each other in different combinations until the writers get bored and make them arbitrarily hate each other instead, and a bunch of other shit that doesn’t make any sense. The only stable relationship in the show is a gay relationship between two guys, so that’s kind of cool, I guess.
So needless to say, the show is a hot mess. It’s kind of fun to watch though, just because you want to find out what stupid shit they’re going to pull next. Not the characters, the writers. It’s really fun to find out how the writers are going to insert some fucked up last-minute plot twist or whatever and have two people suddenly be related who previously weren’t, or randomly have someone turn traitor who wasn’t before. The whole thing is so convoluted and stupid, it’s impossible not to want to watch the rest of it.
The acting in the show is all really good, and of course Viola Davis gets the most recognition because she’s fantastic and all. But everyone does a really good job really committing to and embodying these ridiculous and stupid characters. Respect to them for really sticking with this bullshit for six years.
The show uses a nonlinear narrative structure that’s pretty fun, actually. At the beginning of each season you start to get flash-forwards to the murder that happens (there’s always a murder. Every season they decide that they’re good people now and they’re not going to murder anyone else, and then they always do as soon as there’s a minor inconvenience. More on that later), and you get bits and pieces of it leading up to the actual episode where it happens. It’s done really well (usually), in a way that gives you just enough info without context that you’re curious to see what happens, but when it happens, it usually still surprises you. Season 4’s murder was especially well-plotted, I thought. All in all the show is very good at its baits and switches and its fake outs, though once in a while it stumbles over them.
In the last two seasons you can start to see the show losing steam, just a little bit. Not in that it gets bad (it’s bad from the get go), but in that the flash-forwards and wonky narrative structure start to weaken a bit. They rely a few times on showing you events out of order to trick you into thinking something happened that didn’t, which personally I think is a bit unfair. They basically gave up on it being a “mystery” and focused more on it being a “thriller,” which is fine and all, but there’s no real indication that that happened before it’s used for shock value, and so it feels like a cheap trick, honestly.
Now, with all that said, one last note. If your plan to get away with murder is to murder fifteen other people and to commit something in the vicinity of fifty other accessory crimes involving a dozen people who weren’t involved in the initial murder, you’re doing it totally wrong. It’s not that hard to get rid of a body, it’s not that hard to frame someone, and it’s not that hard to just make a person disappear. It’s also not that hard to control your fucking urges and not just kill someone as your first resort when they annoy you by saying mean things about your dad or suggesting they might tell the police about the ten other people you murdered. Maybe try talking to them, or blackmailing them, or framing them for the other murders, or literally anything else before you spontaneously kill them in a public place and then have to come up with some elaborate plot to cover it up after the fact. Premeditation and a little fucking restraint are good things in murder, trust me.
So yeah. I get that the premise of the show is that these people are the stupid asshole kind of smart people with no impulse control or common sense rather than criminal masterminds, but we’re also supposed to believe that they’re also just regular smart people. And they basically never demonstrate that throughout the whole show. It’s a fun show but it’s really frustrating to have to pretend that all of these idiots are smart when I’m no genius but I could have gotten away with the exact same murder in two episodes, that’s all.
It’s a fun show though, and I’m glad we watched it. Todd really liked it, for whatever that’s worth.
2 thoughts on “Henry’s Review of How to Get Away with Murder”
Funny! Especially the comment “I could do it better” seems to be true… because, well… the modern AU Team of Sam, Henry, Derek and Todd is capable of a lot of things. Yepp, they could to it better.
Yes they could! I mean to be fair they have the advantage of being actual criminals with experience in doing crime, but still. I think they started with a higher baseline level of competence, haha.