TV Recap: How To Get Away With Murder, Series Premiere

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Summary: A group of ambitious law students and their brilliant criminal defense professor become involved in a twisted murder plot that promises to change the course of their lives.

Photo Credit: ABC/Craig Sjodin
Photo Credit: ABC/Craig Sjodin

Contrary to popular belief (and what you may have read in the New York Times), How to Get Away With Murder is not created by Shonda Rhimes, the goddess that brought us Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. But it has the Shonda stamp of approval, as she’s one of the executive producers and its being made by her production company. In turn, I was possibly a little too excited for this premiere, despite not totally seeing the appeal in the trailers. I love Viola Davis, and I saw a bunch of other familiar faces (most notably Matt McGorry of Orange is the New Black fame), and with my intense love of Shonda, I readied myself for enjoyment.

What I got was much better than I expected it to be. It’s hard to explain exactly what I mean by that, because I was expecting it to be very good. But then with that expectation came the doubt that it actually could be that good. And it ended up being pretty great. So there’s that!

As with most Shonda shows (although I will reiterate this is not written by Shonda, but Peter Nowalk who has worked with her from many years), there are a lot of rich characters. Everyone has a story, and right from the pilot everyone is already complex. But what really hooked me (because I was expecting the realistic and varied characters) is that the plot turned out to be nothing like what I thought it would be. How to Get Away With Murder hooks you from the moment it starts, with a perfectly executed mystery that gives you worlds of incite and questions about the characters we’re about to meet.

You see, the pilot starts with an event that happens three months from now. And it’s not like I’ve never seen that done before – I’ve seen it done many times very well from shows that have been on for a while. Shows that have established characters, and we already care about their lives – we would be confused as to their actions and what we’ve missed when the episode opens up with and event from the future and then pulls us back to three days ago so explain what has happened in the interim. Do you know how difficult it in is those first five minutes of a TV show pilot to make us care about characters we’ve never met before enough to feel completely sucked in and compelled to see how they got to this point? That’s what How to Get Away With Murder pulled off, and that’s the mystery we’ll be solving all season long.

I. Can’t. Wait.

Rating: 9/10

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Marla Pachter is a comedic writer, obsessed with all things television. She doesn’t discriminate against TV shows, which either results in pleasant surprise or an eviscerating review for your reading pleasure. Marla loves Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine Nine, and she will probably be watching new seasons of Grey’s Anatomy until she’s 90. Sometimes she writes TV shows herself, but they don’t air on television. She also likes big butts and she cannot lie. (That was a lie). @MarlaPachter