How to Get Away with Murder is an ABC Network drama TV show created by Shonda Rhimes, starring Viola Davis. The series first aired on September 25, 2014 and as of 2017, it has aired for three seasons and 40 episodes.
For her portrayal of Annaliese Keating on the show, Viola Davis became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series" along with winning two SAG Awards for "Outstanding Performance in a Drama Series" & an Image Award for "Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series."
Annalise Keating is a prominent criminal defense attorney and a law professor at Middleton University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
She selects five students to intern at her firm: Wes Gibbins, Connor Walsh, Michaela Pratt, Asher Millstone and Laurel Castillo. They work with Annalise's employees, Frank Delfino and Bonnie Winterbottom, an associate lawyer.
The series' first nine episodes alternate between the present-day timeline in medias res, depicting Wes, Connor, Michaela, and Laurel (The Keating 4) covering up Sam's murder by disposing of his body, and the flashbacks detailing the course of events leading up to Sam's death: Annalise becomes involved in the Lila Stangard investigation at Wes' urging, leading her to discover Sam's affair and creating suspicion that he killed Lila.
The final six episodes explore Annalise's attempt to help her interns cover up Sam's murder and legally implicate Sam in Lila's death and flashbacks to Lila's final moments before her murder.
The first nine episodes of the second season focuses on Annalise's case of the Caleb and Catherine Hapstall, and their alleged involvement in the death of their adoptive parents. Wes in the meantime, teams up with Rebecca's foster brother to try and find Rebecca. Connor struggles with his relationship with Oliver, while Asher works with A.D.A. Emily Sinclair in order to protect his secrets.
In the mid-season finale, Emily Sinclair is murdered and Annalise helps cover it up at the expense of her being shot in the stomach by Wes.
The second part of the second season focuses on Wes' investigation around his mother's suicide ten years ago, and it is revealed from flashbacks how involved Annalise was with the suicide of Wes' mother.
The season ends with Annalise finding out that it was Frank that was responsible for her being in a car accident and losing her baby and Annalise sends him away. Michaela and Asher hook up, and Wes meets up with his biological father right before his father is shot dead by an unknown shooter.
The first nine episodes of the third season focuses on the aftermath of Wallace Mahoney's death, as well as a new mystery revolving around Annalise's house burning down and who was found dead inside.
The events leading up to it involve Annalise starting a free legal clinic & struggling with alcoholism. Oliver starts working for Annalise and he also leaves Connor when becoming disgusted with himself. Michaela and Asher's relationship starts to progress, as does Wes & Laurel's and Frank starts working to repent for causing the death of Annalise's child. Ultimately, it's revealed that Wes died, but he was killed before the fire.
- Viola Davis as Annaliese Keating
- Billy Brown as Nate Lahey
- Alfred Enoch as Wes Gibbins
- Jack Falahee as Connor Walsh
- Katie Findlay as Rebecca Sutter
- Aja Naomi King as Michaela Pratt
- Matt McGorry as Asher Millstone
- Karla Souza as Laurel Castillo
- Charlie Weber as Frank Delfino
- Liza Weil as Bonnie Winterbottom
- Conrad Ricamora as Oliver Hampton
The first season of "How to Get Away with Murder" received positive reviews, with most praising Viola Davis' performance.
On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a rating of 85% (based on 53 reviews) with an average rating of 7.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "How to Get Away with Murder isn't conceptually original, but it delivers thrills with melodramatic twists and a captivating lead."
Metacritic gave season one of the show a score of 68 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Mary McNamara from Los Angeles Times wrote about Viola Davis' performance: "...all eyes are on Davis, Tony winner and Oscar nominee. Magnetic and intimidating, Davis creates an implacable surface beneath which shimmers all manner of fleet and startled emotions. Desire and fear, certainty, self-doubt and resolve are conjured in an instant with the angle of a glance, the lowering of an eyelid and then released as if they were never there."
Entertainment Weekly's Melissa Maerz described Viola Davis' performance as "powerfully layered."
Frazier Moore from the Associated Press, wrote that the show "promises to be twisty, wicked, dark and fun. And it stars Viola Davis, who brings life to a character of endless calculations and mystery."
The show's second season also received positive reviews.
Lesley Brock, Paste Magazine, praised the second season writing: "I would not put it past How to Get Away with Murder, which has turned all other ABC show plot lines upside down on their heads and shown that nothing is impossible, to throw incest into an already haphazard mix." Brock gave the season a score of 9 out of 10.
Kyle Anderson from Entertainment weekly, wrote that with Viola Davis at the front, the show can get away with anything.
The first season of "How to Get Away With Murder" was awarded "Television Program of the Year" by the American Film Institute and won "Outstanding Drama Series" at the 46th NAACP Image Awards and 26th GLAAD Media Awards.
The show was also nominated for "Favorite New TV Drama" at the 41st People's Choice Awards and "TV Drama of the Year" at the GALECA awards.
In 2016, the second season was nominated for "Outstanding Drama Series" at the 47th NAACP Image Awards, "Favorite Network TV Drama" at the 42nd People's Choice Awards and "Outstanding Drama Series" at the 27th GLAAD Media Awards.
Viola Davis became the first black woman to win a Primetime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series" and also won two Screen Actors Guild Awards for "Outstanding Performance in a Drama Series" & the NAACP Image Awards for "Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series."
She also received nominations from the Golden Globe Awards for "Best Actress in a Television Series", the Critics' Choice Awards for "Best Actress in a Drama Series" and the Television Critics Association at the TCA Awards for "Individual Achievement in Drama."
Other cast members have also received recognition for their performances with Alfred Enoch & Aja Naomi King being nominated by the NAACP as "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series" and "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series" at the NAACP Image Awards. Cicely Tyson was nominated for "Outstanding Guest Actress" at the 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards.