Despite what New York Times writer Alessandra Stanley says, we should all be so lucky to live in ShondaLand, the TV empire created by one amazing, groundbreaking woman who happens to be Black. A place where we can ask Shonda Rhimes to wave her magic wand and make us powerful, bossy, beautiful, sexy, angry, real, and oh so conflicted. It’s entertainment at its finest.
Not only did Rhimes and her team of talented writers and actors take Thursday night by storm with ABC’s #TGIT lineup of favorites Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, but it ended perfectly with the much-anticipated premiere of How to Get Away with Murder, which was so good I had to watch it twice.
In a nutshell, Murder is about a brilliant, charismatic and seductive Middleton Law School criminal law professor named Annalise Keating, played by the incomparable Viola Davis. She’s everything you hope your professor will be: brilliant, passionate and creative. But she’s also everything you wouldn’t expect: sexy, glamorous, unpredictable and dangerous. “It’s not good or bad, we’re grey,” Davis said of her character on Jimmy Kimmel Live! this week.
Each year, Annalise selects a group of her smartest, most promising students to come work at her law firm. Little do they know that they’ll quickly have to apply what they learned to real life, in this masterful, sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller.
And speaking of sexy, Rhimes always has a way with casting men to keep female viewers’ attention. Think: Jesse Williams in Grey’s Anatomy, and forget Fitz Grant—it’s all about Scott Foley’s character Jake Ballard in Scandal. The one to watch in Murder is newcomer Alfred Enoch, who plays Wes Gibbons. With his boy-next door charm, Wes comes to Middleton Law as an outsider. We don’t have any spoilers here, but I have a feeling that the relationship between Wes and Annalise Keating is more central to the show than it may initially appear. The more time he spends with her, the less innocent Wes becomes.
In addition to her work as a professor, Annalise is also a defense attorney who represents the most hardened criminals. We’re not talking traffic violations, we’re talking people who have committed everything from fraud to arson to murder. In addition to her top students, Annalise also has two dedicated associates who work for her (and who we’ll surely discover are not all that they seem).
In case you missed the first episode, here’s a crash course in Annalise Keating 101:
1. She’s married to Sam, but has a boyfriend, detective Nate.
2. She may have a thing for one of her students.
3. She wears a mean, curve-hugging dress or skirt daily. (Viola Davis admits relying on Spanx.)
So how exactly do you get away with murder? In one of the first classroom scenes, Professor Keating breaks it down in three points: discredit the witness, introduce a new suspect, and bury the evidence. Seems easy enough. But what we’re loving even more is that Shonda Rhimes knows how to produce a hot, hit show. How to Get Away with Murder, dare I say, easily topped last night’s Scandal in the twists and turns department. And the ripple effect of Annalise and her students will probably give us seasons and seasons to come.