After two episodes of the smash hit How to Get Away With Murder, Shonda Rhimes and Peter Nowalk seem to be intent on showing the audience exactly what they can get away with. In only two hours of screentime, the show has already managed to air at least 23932 different things we rarely (or never) see on primetime TV, including…
1. Grown-Ass Black People Having Sex
Look. I haven’t watched every scene from every season of every TV show, so I can’t confirm if there have been other instances of two middle-aged Black people making the beast with two backs on primetime TV. Perhaps it happened on an episode of The Good Wife or something, I don’t know. What I do know, though, is that I’ve never personally seen it until the How to Get Away With Murder series premiere, when Detective Lahey (Billy Brown) was, um, helping Annalise (Viola Davis) find a pen she lost inside of her panties.
2. A Grown-Ass Black Woman Receiving Oral Sex
In real life, this is not a big deal. But on TV, showing a Black woman in her late 40s — a Black woman who happens to be a powerful and multi-layered lawyer — as a sexual being in control of her sex life is practically revolutionary. Plus, who said Black men don’t…search for pens?
3. A Grown-Ass Black Woman Leading The Show
As great as Kerry Washington is as Scandal’s Olivia Pope, from an age perspective, she’s not that different from many other female leads. Yet, there are few primetime shows were a middle-aged woman is the fulcrum, and even fewer where a middle-aged Black woman is in that position.
4. A Lead Secondary Character Who Is Also Black
As rare as it is to have a Black woman as the main character on a mainstream show, it’s even rarer for the person who gets the second most lines and screentime to also be Black. In most other series, the student with the most screentime would probably be the cute brunette or scheming gay guy, but here it’s the slightly nerdy/awkward Wes Gibbins, played by biracial British actor Alfred Enoch.
5. The Black Girl Who Has Said Like Seven Words So Far, And Two Of Them Were “I’m Engaged”
Michaela Pratt, played by the beautiful Aja Naomi King, hasn’t had much to say so far this season. But we have established that she’s engaged, which contradicts two stereotypes
-The loud and aggressive Black woman
-The perpetually single and optionless Black woman
Maybe by episode three, she’ll be allowed to kill another stereotype with six more words:
“Nah, I don’t really watch Scandal.”
6. A Smash Ratings Hit Featuring A Bunch Of (Relative) Unknowns
More than anything, this speaks to the power of the brand Shonda Rhimes has built. Aside from the Oscar-nominated Davis, the show doesn’t contain any other actors most casual fans would immediately recognize. But we checked in — and continue to check in — because we trusted her to deliver, not because “whathisname” is in it.