Katie Findlay in ABC TV’s “How to Get Away With Murder”
Last week, we noted that Annalise got a client released from death row by claiming that he was a victim of racist gentrification policies that uprooted an entire neighborhood of low income people of color. Except there was no indication that such a thing was true, which meant Annalise was imposing racist motivations to someone who wasn’t even on trial and because of the show’s case-of-the-week format, it was likely that this potentially explosive and highly politicized point was never going to be picked up again. This week, we see Annalise prod her client to falsely accuse someone else of rape and then use a very valid critique of the media and rape culture to get what she wants for her case. And this too, is likely to not be explored fully – or possibly even mentioned again. We don’t quite know what to think of this. On the one hand, you’re not going to find many network TV shows willing to call out racist gentrification practices or slut-shaming women in the media; on the other hand, these red-hot political topics are being used as window dressing and little else. Worse, the show is subtly reinforcing the idea that things like calling out racism or rape culture are mere tools used by cynical people to get what they want, instead of true socio-political critiques of the culture. In 2014, to have a black woman character cynically use racism and rape culture to further her own ends is an explosively damning thing to portray. Which is fine, because we’re all about explosive TV around here, but because none of this seems to be getting picked up on, it’s starting to feel sloppy and inadvertent, rather than a commentary on how cynical and immoral Annalise is. Especially when the marketing of the show acts like the most shocking thing this character could ever possibly say is “penis.”
And we’re sorry, but Rebecca is just an asshole. Clearly, the point is to get us to question whether such a person deserves any of the help she’s getting and to wonder if she’s actually guilty of a few crimes, but she’s so ridiculously over-written as the “Bad Girl” prototype, down to the piercings and eye makeup. And her one consistent character trait is “I like to screw with people and make them feel uncomfortable,” but except for Annalise’s one righteous outburst, no one ever acts the way normal people would act around someone like Rebecca. Namely, no one is saying to her, “Hey, could you maybe shut the fuck up, you ungrateful bitch?” Instead it’s all lame teenager-level joking about whether or not Wes is sleeping with her. Which we suppose makes some sense, because this is an internship that apparently requires a lot of sexual activity and discussion, since that’s roughly half of what they spend their time doing; having sex or talking about sex. For a bunch of supposedly brilliant law students, they all sound like a bunch of 11-year-old boys when they get going. “Do you think they’re ‘doing it?‘” “I bet they’re totally ‘doing it.’”
Oh, and by the way, why are they ‘doing it?” The script keeps asking Wes why he’s so infatuated with a bitchy mess like Rebecca and it never actually answers the question. There’s an equal amount of confusion as to why Annalise is still sleeping in the same bed with Sam, but at least that’s a question they’re spending some time exploring. With Wes it’s alway “Why are you so protective of this girl?” to which the answer is always either a shrug or a flashforward to them kissing or something. The season seems to be hinging on this relationship, so it would be nice if we could get it explained to us somehow.
Meanwhile, the script called for Michaela to be really stupid and naive, so that’s what she was. Similarly, the script called for Archer to go back to being a buffoon, so that’s what he was. This kind of stuff is really starting to damage the show. None of the interns have believable or even articulated through-lines. What the hell was all that stuff with Laurel? We suppose we should be happy that Conor’s back to being a sexual compulsive rather than a sexual compulsive with special information-gathering talents located on his tongue.
In other news, we’re loving the beefing up of Alysia Reiner’s part as prosecutor Wendy Parks. We noted a couple weeks back that Annalise really needed a peer character to go up against; someone who comes across as dangerous and indomitable as she is. For now, Wendy seems to fit that bill nicely. After her turn as the horrible Natalie Figueroa on Orange is the New Black, it seems Alysia’s destined to play hardcore bitches, but she does it so damn well. More of her, please. Recurring character, please.
But let’s face it; this is a silly show using very un-silly cultural and political markers to further its story. We think we’d like it better if it was merely a silly show and it left all the racism and rape culture stuff out of it.
[Photo credit: ABC Television]