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Saturday, May 18, 2024
Viola Davis performs her role as Professor Annelise Keating in hit TV series "How to Get Away with Murder" with expert skill. 

Viola Davis performs her role as Professor Annelise Keating in hit TV series "How to Get Away with Murder" with expert skill. 

Rhimes excites fans with season premiere

‘Tis the season for Shondaland’s hit shows to return. “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How to Get Away with Murder” began new seasons Sept.22, and it’s finally beginning to feel like fall. Shonda Rhimes, the primetime network queen, has created one successful show after another without jeopardizing quality. Her characters are always complex and real, her narration is always personal and clever and her series as a whole are always worthy to binge. Setting aside other shows by Rhimes, I would like to focus on her edgiest and wittiest show to date, “How to Get Away with Murder.”

“HTGAWM” has the signature fast pace of a Rhimes series. Beginning its third season, “HTGAWM” is still the new show on the block, considering that “Grey’s Anatomy” is on its 13th season. Yet, “HTGAWM” far surpasses “Grey’s Anatomy” in many aspects. “HTGAWM” tracks the high-adrenaline lives of law students at a prestigious Pennsylvania university after they are involved in a murder. The structure ditches the usual, one-case-per-episode format for something much more gripping—one serial plot point arched throughout a season. The series begins each season with the characters in an unbelievable situation revealed to us in a flash-forward, with most of the season unraveling to eventually get to that plot-point in time. For the season three premiere, the flash-forward is fully revealed at the end of the episode, filled with enough shock to promise a terrific new season.

“HTGAWM” has one ingredient that pushes the series to the top spot of Shondaland originals: the wondrous acting capabilities of Viola Davis. As the misunderstood defense attorney and professor Annalise Keating, Davis channels a powerhouse performance unmatched by anything else on television. Her overqualified Emmy win for this role (which was the first win for an African-American woman in that category) cements her status as one of the best actresses to grace our screens. Professor Keating is a multifaceted, complicated character that Davis craftily harnesses with impeccable skill, pouring her talent into each episode.

The third season premiere implies a developing maturation amongst the characters. Murder cover-ups that once forced an inseparable bond between Annalise and her student interns, “The Keating Five,” are deteriorating as Annalise’s morals are publicly questioned and the students no longer feel intimidated by her prowess. Ultimatums are no longer enforced between the corrupted lawyers and they are beyond ready to put the past behind them to move on. This ideal vanishes into smoke once this season’s flash-forward is revealed and their bond feels stronger than ever. “We’re good people now. Say it until you believe it,” Annalise utters in the season three premiere, a notion that is almost laughable at this point in the series.

“HTGAWM” is a rare basic-cable series that still manages to thoughtfully push the boundaries in terms of race, sexuality, addiction, abuse and self-identity. The material seamlessly laces its dramatic plot with intricate characters that must face their personal battles alongside their legal ones, often at intersecting crossroads. The show effectively presents minority characters that are multi-dimensional. This quality is unfortunately only beginning to surface in the midst of our modern television climate. Shonda Rhimes is reputably on the forefront of this mission since her beginning with “Grey’s Anatomy.” Now “HTGAWM” continues this legacy with more quick wit and fun than ever before.

Notice to readers: An after-publish edit has been made online, correcting a misspelling of Shonda Rhimes name in this week's first print issue. We apologize for this mistake. 

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