One of my favourite features in any source of entertainment, be it a life-changing novel or an ABC television series, is the presence of a strong female character who develops as time goes on. That’s Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) for you. Not only do you get to witness her fearless, intelligent and intimidating self, but you get to see past this façade of a typical criminal defense attorney and professor of law, as this ‘self’ is stripped off of her as she must now confront the secrets she so terribly denied… her reality.
I was never really into legal dramas… or medical dramas… or any type of dramas in that case. That is, until Orange Is the New Black came along (which, by the way, I love). I thought I’d give this series a shot because I’ve always been interested in ‘law’ as a concept… specifically when it has to do with courtroom dramas, or protecting someone (you know, I am indeed your typical fan girl who knows literally nothing about the difficulty of a degree/career in law). It’s just so… exhilarating, especially since Annalise becomes overwhelmed by the reality of her life as these secrets persist – and grow.
There are the other characters, Annalise’s students, obviously, but we only care about Annalise. Life revolves around Annalise, and the characters know it. A student introduction scene so similar to when Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods embarrasses herself on her first day by not preparing for an assignment is then developed by characters proving their worth to Annalise. (Annoyingly enough, it’s always those same five students who answer questions – or get involved, at all.) You’ve got Michaela Pratt, the engaged perfectionist , Connor Walsh, the openly gay, self-proclaimed genius, Asher Millstone, that one boy thrown into the world of law by family exposure (He’s on Orange is The New Black – and the only source of humour on this show), Laurel Castillo (Who everyone thinks is called Lauren), the mysterious, underestimated idealist, aaaaand the outsider, Wes Gibbons, whom Annalise ‘likes for some reason’. These characters are chosen to be in Annalise’s firm – and are all determined to prove themselves to her.
The main mystery and difficulty is deciphering the flash-forwards, the bits which start with that damn cheerleader flying about in the air (Yes, we see it every episode), where the students are seen arguing over what to do with a dead body, Spoiler Alert***
belonging to Annalise’s enigmatic, yet seemingly open, husband, Sam. Yes, it gets crazy, and I love it.
My rating: 8.5/10
Overall, Shonda Rhimes and Peter Nowalk have done a pretty solid job creating this drama which, despite being overridden with some clichés and awkward sexual encounters, is also a murder-mystery. The format is intriguing and the inclusion of unrelated cases of Annalise’s clients allows us to see where Annalise’ personality is at its strongest, with the students taking on individual tasks and investigations to impress Annalise. The mystery, however, still lingers as the pilot is only a platform for what’s to come.
-Lara, lover of legal dramas…well, maybe just How To Get Away With Murder