Starring: Viola Davis, Alfred Enoch, Jack Falahee, Matt McGorry, Aja Naomi King, Karla Souza, Liza Weil, Tom Verica, Charlie Weber, Billy Brown
I would say that SHONDA RHIMES HAS DONE IT AGAIN, except for the fact that most of her shows are never mega hits right out of the gate. How To Get Away With Murder has somehow circumnavigated the process of being a Shonda Rhimes show, where you have a solid first season, but aren’t yet a massive success, and then you just explode in Season 2. Judging by the ratings, Murder is already at the season 2 point.
Much of this success should be attributed to Viola Davis, but not to the writers of her character. Proving that she can be handed literally any material, Davis is handed a strong (very strong) female character, who for some reason breaks down and shows her weakness in the pilot episode. To a student! Unacceptable. Even if you have “big plans” for her, or the student, or the plot. This kind of breaking down felt oddly out of place in the pilot, because her character wasn’t fully established yet. Once the character is established, then breakdowns can happen. If a “strong” character is breaking down in the pilot (ALREADY), then they aren’t very strong, are they?
The five students are clearly our little core group, like the core group that Grey’s Anatomy started off with. The only two I actually give a damn about are the ones played by Enoch and King. McGorry did OK with what he was given, but needs stronger character definition going forward. Not enough screentime. Falahee is making progress for gay characters on TV, except that I also found him to be obnoxious, and unlikeable. Souza is like a beige wall. Nothing to see here, keep moving on. Because the casting is sketchy right now, it’s not getting me as invested in the show. I’m sure I’ll grow to love them more as the show moves forward, but right now… not so much.
But, in general, we’re off to a good start. Davis will undoubtedly give one of the performances of the season, and this will obviously get a second season from ABC. It deserves the attention its getting, but it also deserves a little bit better writing. It’s not quite on Scandal’s level, or even Grey’s Anatomy Season Whatever’s level. It feels a little below, even though the pilot was still pretty strong.
FINAL GRADE: B+