So How To Get Away With Murder is a bad show. It’s mostly poorly written, poorly acted, and definitely not how you law things. Literally none of that matters. Because people are watching this show for three reasons, and three reasons only: 1) Viola, 2) Motherfucking, 3) Davis.
She’s glorious. It’s like finding a filet mignon inside a TV dinner; you don’t know how it happened, but you don’t want it to stop. Davis is crushing it so hard, I’m willing to overlook errors in judgment like allowing Laurel to testify even though she was sitting in the courtroom listening to the testimony she was supposed to be refuting. Seriously, that’s not how lawing works.
But what might actually be the most entertaining thing about How To Get Away With Murder is trying to determine which show each character believes they are on. Because that’s the only explanation I can think of for the jarring dissonance in the their motivation, reactions, and delivery. It’s as if the writers and show-runner decided they’d take the appetizer sampler method of direction. From best to worst, here’s where the cast of HTGAWM think they should be:
Annalise Keating - Oscar-Worthy Drama About The Compounding And Debilitating Effects Of Grief.
Davis thinks that this is a real show. Please no one correct her. Keating is far and away the best case study of grief I’ve seen on TV in years, and Davis’ execution of it is astounding. For most people, grief is a process. Unless you experience a trauma from which you’re unable to recover. And then you end up like poor Annalise: unable to move past the injuries of her youth, lashing out at loved ones, jumping from a deep need to control everything to a crippling inability to make the slightest decision. And all the while with a tiny, bitter ball of pure hurt in the center of her. It’s magnificent, and it’s on one of the worst shows currently airing. God helps us.
Bonnie, Frank, and sometimes Nate - 1970s Bad TV Movie About Cults
So the thing about people who are damaged by grief is that often they do some amazing shit. They’ll become wildly successful to fill in the hole of pain, or develop a striking ability to read and manipulate people. So it doesn’t surprise me at all that Annalise would have garnered a level of deep devotion from those around her. What surprises me is that the directors decided to give no acting notes other than “Be all into her shit.” Like they all had to draw hearts with “A.K.” in the center one hundred times as background research. The only thing I can imagine is that someone misunderstood the difference between “irrational” and “unexplained” dedication. Cult Life forever for these three.
Connor and Oliver - Bad Episode of Law & Order: SVU. Like Benson and Stabler, But With Less Sexual Chemistry.
Connor and Oliver actually might make a little more sense than the rest of the cast, I just deeply can’t care about Connor. Each one’s involvement in the show is based on the other. Connor wants to move to California, but Oliver doesn’t. Connor wants to protect Oliver by not revealing the many murders, so they stay in Philly. Oliver needs the rest of the group in order to save Connor from a kidnapping, so he remains involved in the crazy. It’s all very understandable, a solid display of a couple in love, and rendered completely moot every time Connor opens his stupid mouth.
Asher and Michaela - Bad Episode of the Eventual Gritty Remake of Scooby Doo.
Yeah, you know this is happening. With the recent success of Riverdale, it’s only a matter of time before the Gang (not the good one) gets its own gritty remake. Which is definitely where Asher and Michaela should be working out their high-school-romance relationship nonsense. No one cares about your inability to commit to each other, guys. There have been, like, seven murders which we’re still learning how to get away with, so we just don’t have time. And, by the way, stop it. Michaela didn’t want to admit she and Asher were sleeping together. Then she didn’t want to admit that she had feelings from him. Then that he was her boyfriend. And now finally that she loves him too. Girl’s reluctant to acknowledge her feelings. This is not a plot point anymore.
Laurel - Bad Soap-opera. Like Passions Or Something. Or One Of Those After School Specials Where The Drug Addict Microwaves A Cat.
Jesus, Laurel, what happened to you? I’m not pretending your story was ever great, but when did your brain break? If Laurel were on the same show as Annalise, we would have gotten to explore the initial impacts of loss, and how it can greatly affect your sense of self. Instead we’ve gotten musical chairs of blame, and completely irrational reactions to everyone on the show. Everyone on the show is responsible for Wes’s death, and also Connor should kill himself? Makes sense. The woman who was following procedure by not allowing a completely unauthorized Laurel to view the body of a murder victim? She’s going to hell one day. Annalise probably killed Wes, but let’s allow Frank to take the fall because he should be the dead one?
Listen, people, there’s an element of our reactions to death that is irrational. We blame ourselves, we’re angry for reasons we can’t specify, we throw ourselves into other activities to ignore the pain. And there are times when people seem to be behaving not like themselves. But, by and large, we don’t wander around shouting at people that they should die because they are probably a murderer. Also never, ever make someone try to out-mourn Viola Davis. That’s just cruel for everyone involved.