Entangled in lies, affairs and murder

Gabriel Taylor watches How to Get Away with Murder on ABC.

Is murder justifiable if the victim was a bad person? Is a murderer worth protecting at the cost of your reputation? Both of these questions are a main concern in the hit show How to Get Away with Murder. There are many legal shows on air, as well as many drama shows involving murder. However, this series differs in that it is the lawyer herself (along with some of her students) who is intertwined in the murder cases. Created by Peter Norwalk and starring Academy Award winner Viola Davis, this legal drama series follows law professor Annalise Keating as she and five students (nicknamed The Keating Five) become involved in a murder.

Professor Keating chooses five students to work with her on real cases and to assist her in the courtroom. As the seasons progress, the Keating Five have their ups and downs – one student gets married and another is murdered. At one point the students leave each other as well as Annalise to go their separate ways (only to reunite later in the show). While the Keating Five only befriended each other because they worked together on Annalise’s cases, they soon learn that they can only trust each other as they become entangled with lies, affairs, and even more murders.

As a Clinical Mental Health Counselling student, it was very interesting seeing topics I had learned about displayed in the show. In a later season, Annalise regularly sees psychiatrist Isaac Roa. They discuss addiction and loss, among other topics. Roa, played by Jimmy Smits, attempts to counsel Annalise for her addiction, but he himself is also an addict. Annalise’s character develops throughout each season. She is initially portrayed as a strong, independent, powerful lawyer that many people both fear and admire. However, we also see her more vulnerable side as the later seasons explore her past traumas, such as the loss of her baby and sexual assault. We also see her vulnerable side in the present with her going to jail and a downward spiral with alcoholism.

The Keating Five are also interesting to explore psychologically. They have almost nothing in common, but are made to work together when they are collectively responsible for a murder in Season One. Although it seems that they become intertwined in illegal activity whenever they are together, they always help each other, even at the expense of their safety. Though they blame Annalise for their troubles, they become dependent on her for guidance. Likewise, Annalise is shown reaching out to her students as though she is equally dependent on them.

How to Get Away with Murder is an exciting, informative, and psychologically intriguing show that is determined to keep you at the edge of your seat with each surprising plot twist.

- Reviewed by Gabriel Taylor, a Masters student in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at William Carey University, USA.

How to Get Away with Murder, series 1-5, is currently on Netflix in the UK.

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