Television Reviews

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How to Get Away with Murder Gets Away with Much More

<i>How to Get Away with Murder</i> Gets Away with Much More

When a show is called How to Get Away with Murder, you can bet it’s going to contain a few things Christian viewers might find objectionable. In fact, ABC’s latest frontrunner, which stars Viola Davis as an ethically-challenged lawyer, has already drawn ire from several Christian outlets. Pluggedin’s Paul Asay writes, “Keating and her cohorts don't do bad things for good reasons as much as they do bad things to just win, baby—at any cost.” while Jim Denison, of the Denison Forum, was shocked and outraged by the show’s open portrayal of same-sex, um, romance. With so much negative press already surrounding Murder, Christian readers might be wondering if the show even merits a decent review. Well, if there’s one thing How to Get Away with Murder teaches viewers, it’s that you should always know what you’re up against.

The pilot episode opens with, what else, a murder. We’re not told who killed said body or why, but it’s clear the four people involved want to make sure this crime literally stays buried. The story then jumps back several months and we’re reintroduced to our characters as they begin their first day of law school. There’s ambitious, high-strung perfectionist, Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King), devious rake, Conner Walsh (Jack Falahee), introspective wallflower, Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza), and the adorably naïve, Wes Gibbons (Alfred Enoch, who sharp-eyed fans might recognize as Dean Thomas from the Harry Potter films). All of them have chosen to study under the iron gaze of Annalise Keating (Davis,The Help), an infamous lawyer who entangles her young protégé’s in a world of lies and conspiracy.

From there, Murder falls into a “case-of-the-week” method of storytelling. Each new episode trails Keating and her students as they defend shifty characters from justice, while in the background, audiences are treated to a secondary mystery concerning a murdered college girl. Many of these stories intersect, and viewers will be left wondering if events in one episode foreshadow those in another. A positive thing that can be said about Murder is that it knows how to keep its viewers interested. This edgy whodunit will have you spinning your own theories before the first commercial break. 

Unfortunately, that’s not likely to matter to Christian audience, who will find most of How to Get Away with Murder appalling. As per the title, Keating’s clients are almost always guilty, and Keating herself doesn’t really care. The stoic lawyer freely admits she’s only interested in winning, and often stoops to using dirty, underhanded, and even illegal tricks to do just that. Apparently her students take this lesson to heart, since they also lie, cheat, and blackmail on a regular basis to get ahead. If this show had a moral compass, it would undoubtedly burst into flames.

Then there’s the sex. Murder has no shortage of scenes where characters get graphically In flagrante. One of Keating’s associates has a reputation for sleeping with students, and the openly gay Conner Walsh enjoys trading sex for favors. As for Keating herself, it’s revealed she’s been cheating on her husband, while he may or may not have been cheating on her with a murder victim. It gets to the point where audiences will have an easier time figuring out who killed who rather than keeping track of which characters are hooking up.

As a drama, there are a lot of things to like about How to Get Away with Murder. It’s got a deep and compelling storyline, dynamic characters, and plenty of nail-biting suspense. Sadly, not even a lawyer of Keating’s ability could convince Christians to watch this show. On the charges of blatant immorality, How to Get Away with Murder is found guilty of all charges.

*Watch How to Get Away with Murder Thursdays on ABC

**Ryan Duncan is the Entertainment Editor for