Review: How To Get Away With Murder kills it

How To Get Away With Murder title card (screenshot via CTV GO)

How To Get Away With Murder title card (screenshot via CTV GO)

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Don't touch your phone or else you might miss how this thingy is important (screenshot via CTV GO)

Don’t touch your phone or else you might miss how this thingy is important (screenshot via CTV GO)

When Shonda Rimes, the creator of How To Get Away With Murder, was questioned about the series’ lengthy name and how it would ever manage on social media sites like Twitter, she famously said “we don’t consider a hashtag when we’re writing a title.” Truth is, I doubt any of the series (or at least the pilot) was created with social media in mind. This likely isn’t a show you’d want to live tweet, as it demands your full attention. Turn off your phone, put the kids to sleep, make sure you have some snacks handy because you won’t want to miss a thing.

How did Professor Keating's husband wind up dead? Well I hope you were paying close attention (screenshot via CTV GO)

How did Professor Keating’s husband wind up dead? Well I hope you were paying close attention (screenshot via CTV GO)

I watched the pilot twice back-to-back and it still feels like a third go at it would bring even more things to light. It’s quite dense in that way, but the pilot was so well paced, you might not even notice how tightly packed the show was until the very end. The plot also jumped around through time frequently, so you’ll want to pay careful attention to be able to piece things together, and boy, is there ever a lot to piece together. There’s so much in the pilot that CTV knows a few of you could’ve been lost and assembled this handy guide so you’ll be on top of things for the upcoming episode.

Professor Keating and her husband in (slightly) happier times (screenshot via CTV GO)

Professor Keating and her husband in (slightly) happier times (screenshot via CTV GO)

How To Get Away With Murder actually does tell you how to get away with murder...does it work? Probably not (screenshot via CTV GO)

How To Get Away With Murder actually does tell you how to get away with murder…does it work? Probably not (screenshot via CTV GO)

You might have to go back and rewatch the episode to realize that it appears the main character, Professor Keating, convinced her top students to murder her husband after she cheated on him because of a squabble over having a kid. Oh, and that’s far from the only case of murder or attempted murder on the show. Just like how Shonda’s other series Scandal delivers on scandals, How To Get Away With Murder, delivers on murders. The pilot even actually tells you how to get away with murder, but good luck with getting those tips, which were glossed over in a matter of seconds, to work.

Oh, Professor Keating, that's not your husband (screenshot via CTV GO)

Oh, Professor Keating, that’s not your husband (screenshot via CTV GO)

Professor Keating and her students would do anything, and I mean anything, to prove clients are innocent, even if they know they aren’t (or seriously doubt they are). That includes sex with cops, impersonating someone to get medical information, spying on people, seducing someone to spill key evidence (which may or may not involve interracial gay sex).

Wes and Professor Keating in one of their many awkward moments (screenshot via CTV GO)

Wes and Professor Keating in one of their many awkward moments (screenshot via CTV GO)

Needless to say, a lot of the characters are quite slimy and aren’t that likeable. Actually, I can’t recall wanting the supposed main protagonists to get busted this much since Dexter—Wes maybe an exception though. Not that you’d be likely to remember who any of the other characters are besides him and Professor Keating, because they were all introduced in a way where you weren’t too sure if you should bother to learn who they are.

There are quite a few dark scenes like this one where a few of Professor Keating's students are walking around with her husband's dead body (screenshot via CTV GO)

There are quite a few dark scenes like this one where a few of Professor Keating’s students are walking around with her husband’s dead body (screenshot via CTV GO)

How To Get Away With Murder is a rather dark-looking show, which isn’t that surprising considering the subject matter and rather unfriendly characters. If you don’t believe me, look at how dark the scenes are in some of the screenshots. You can immediately tell what you’re getting by looking at a single frame: It’s a drama, not Two and a Half Men.

If turning university upside down wasn't enough, How To Get Away With Murder also exaggerates what a courtroom is like (screenshot via CTV GO)

If turning university upside down wasn’t enough, How To Get Away With Murder also exaggerates what a courtroom is like (screenshot via CTV GO)

Professor Keating thought it would be a good idea to cram her entire class into her tiny law office to hear her client speak (screenshot via CTV GO)

Professor Keating thought it would be a good idea to cram her entire class into her tiny law office to hear her client speak (screenshot via CTV GO)

A lot of the program also seems to be a rather exaggerated form of university (in particular law school) and the courts. While I suppose you could argue that all works of fiction are exaggerated, this show almost seems like a fun house mirror compared to others. The students are overly intelligent, yet are nearly comically paranoid about taking Professor Keating’s class. Professor Keating is also almost too overbearing and her class assignments seem absurd. She took her huge class to her tiny office to hear her client speak and each student presented a minute long verbal presentation on how they should defend her. I had no idea how they had enough time to hear everyone’s presentation in one class, and how everyone wasn’t bored out of their minds. The presentations may have made sense in a tutorial, where the classes are broken down into smaller groups, or if the students made presentations in groups, but I guess I’m nitpicking.

Yup, How To Get Away With Murder is totally a soap (screenshot via CTV GO)

Yup, How To Get Away With Murder is totally a soap (screenshot via CTV GO)

At its core, however, How To Get Away With Murder is a soap, which makes a lot of sense considering it’s yet another Shonda Rimes show and the series airs after Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. The program is also a refreshing take on the legal drama, which I appreciate. How To Get Away With Murder ventures in uncharted territory though and it will be interesting to see what the program will become in the coming weeks. I’m sure the show will be a soap of some sort, which will likely alienate a few viewers, but aside from that it’s really anyone’s guess.

Episode Reviewed: Pilot
How To Get Away With Murder airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on CTV

(Featured Image: Screenshot via CTV GO)

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