This weekend, I grabbed my sis, my best guy, some tortas, and sat down to watch the return of How to Get Away with Murder.
Yes, I know it comes out on Thursdays, but my TV is 21 years old and I never bothered to get it that converter do-hickey box. And I’m not about to make it easy for someone breaking into my apartment to steal my shit by getting one of those lightweight flimsy flat screens. So I watch things on delay on Hulu and I will ruin your life if you give me any spoilers.
It was an explosive first episode of the new season. I gasped, I shouted “Oh damn!” several times, and was not disappointed in my shirtless dude quotient. But most of all, Viola Davis was amazing as ever in the role for which she won this year’s Emmy for Best Lead Actress – the first Black woman to ever do so in that category. Annalise Keating is one of the most complex roles for a woman on television that I’ve ever seen, let alone a woman of color. And with the addition of Famke Janssen to the cast as an ex-lover from her past, Annalise’s character gets even more depth.
I’ve seen anti-heroes done several times over, mostly as white males, and I thought I was bored of the genre. But it was just the monotony of it. (And I must interject here that genre cop shows with police anti-heroes who beat the shit out suspects in a way that is meant to convince you that torture is the only way to save the day isn’t narrative – its propaganda, so question what you watch. Legit. Chicago PD? Rahm Emanuel’s brother got that show on air.)
But seeing a narrative where the anti-heroes are mostly marginalized characters at an Ivy League school who are ambitious, striving, and willing to do anything to survive in a landscape that doesn’t easily welcome them is incredibly refreshing. There’s something about knowing that you are surrounded by people who are already looking for an excuse to toss you out of their Olympus that increases the stakes for these characters caught in a nightmarish situation. (Notice that Doucheface – the character with the Ivy league pedigree and judge father is the one spared narratively from the murder drama. We all know his ass would get away with it.)
I love, love, love this show. Which is why something that happened in this episode made me cringe.
Laurel Castillo, the Latina character played by Karla Souza, is quiet, unassuming, and kind of a genius behind the scenes manipulator of her classmates. In this episode, Frank mentions Laurel’s father saying that “you don’t grow up to be normal when that’s who raises you.”
So her dad’s some kind of violent monster?
I let out a big groan hearing that. Oh God, please don’t let this turn into a Narco narrative.
That would completely suck.
Everything else about Laurel’s character has been against stereotype until this point. And if it turns out to be the case that her dad IS some kind of cartel kingpin, the way it was brought up, implying that her criminality would be somehow inherent – rather than out of self-preservation – well that just sounds Trumpish.
And can I say that wondering whether the Latinos who are at Ivy League schools are paying for their education with cartel money is something that those who marginalize us at those schools are all doing – ALOUD. When they’re done telling us how lucky we are to be there because of affirmative action.
Everything about this show is sooo good, so far! I’ve often wished that other shows were as inclusive of multicultural casts and perspectives as any Rhimes production – normalizing television as Rhimes would say – rather than replicating the format of shows with all white casts with brown bodies. I just hope it doesn’t go off the rails trying to cash in on the Netflix Narcos hype.