A Lawyer's Guide to 'How to Get Away With Murder,' TV's Best Show
It's TV season again and that means that ABC's How to Get Away With Murder is back, fresh off the heels of Viola Davis' Emmy Award. If you're not familiar with HTGAWM, it's the ridiculous story of Professor Annalise Keating's never-ending Crim Law course, where the best and the brightest student patsies are invited to help folks, well, get away with murder. Or solve murders. It's a bit ambiguous at this point.
If you're a lawyer or law student, you should be both infuriated and entertained by How to Get Away With Murder. Between all the campy, sexy drama (the show comes from Shonda Rhymes, the genius who gave us Grey's Anatomy and Scandal), HTGAWM gets pretty much everything about the law and law school wrong. Here's your lawyers' and haters' guide to our (secretly) favorite TV show.
Just Like Your 1L Year
We can forgive the show for not giving us a cinema verite review of law school. After all, no one wants to watch a prime time show about highlighting casebooks, crying into your instant ramen, and living in constant terror of cold calls. Sure, sex it up! Add a dash of murder and mystery!
But man, could this show use a consulting lawyer. How bad is it? In Keating's Crim Law class (now in its second year?), when the intimidating Prof. asks a question, almost every hand shoots up. "Why are we inclined to hurt those we love the most?" Prof. Keating asks as the new season opens. "Oh, I know teacher! Pick me!" every law student extra screams in their head.
Then there's the court room drama. About halfway through Season 2, Episode 1, we're shown the murder trial of the Hapstall siblings. (A blatant rehash of the Menendez Brothers. HTGAWM brings you stories ripped from the headlines! Of 1992.) The defense introduces in last minute, doctored, evidence, with the argument that "the prosecution can authenticate it later." You guys! That's not how evidence works.
Back With a Bang (and Another Body)
If you missed the first episode of the new season, here's a quick recap. (Beware: spoilers!) Annalise and the kids try to get on with their lives following Rebecca's disappearance slash murder. (If you missed last season, we've got you covered here.) Baby-faced Wes comes late to class, the one where everyone raises their hands, and in realistic fashion is cold called. When he tries to pass, Prof. Keating refuses to let him get off -- also realistic -- and the two engage in a quick Oedipal power play.
Meanwhile, everyone is all in a tiff after Eve Rothlow shows up. The founder of the alternate universe Innocence Project and -- get ready to clutch your pearls -- Annalise's ex-lover (!) is in town to represent Annalise's other ex-lover Nate. But she refuses, thinking Annalise framed him. Annalise's desperation when she first sees Eve is a good reminder of why Viola Davis was able to turn this evening soap opera into an Emmy.
Things get real when Connor's naked advances are rebuffed by his BF Oliver due to Oliver's potential HIV. Thankfully, Connor's PrEP is about to kick in any day, so Coliver isn't over yet. Asher, meanwhile, turns down a date because he's got to study for a Civ Pro test. Civ Pro! We think that's the first time a non-Crim Law course has ever been mentioned on HTGAWM.
Later, Michaela drinks an IHOP-sized martini and tries to contact EGGS911. Success! But mysterious success, as we don't yet know who is on the other end of the text.
After all the drama, Prof. Keating recognizes that the kids just need to blow off some steam. So she takes them all out for a nice rave; which is basically how most of us lawyers spent time with our professors, right? Cut to the future and Annalise is shown lying on the ground in a pool of blood as Wes runs away. More mystery!
The name of the episode was "It's Time to Move On," but we're not ready to give on How to Get Away With Murder just yet. For all the errors it makes, we'll keep watching. Episode two errs tonight.
- Viola Davis's Emmy Speech (The New York Times)
- A Lawyer's Guide to Fall TV: The Verdict on 3 New Legal Dramas (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Saul and Company: 3 TV Lawyers Who Make Being Bad Look Good (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Where Did Ally McBeal Go to Law School? 9 Fictional TV Lawyers' Alma Maters (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
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