How to Get Away with Murder

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
How to Get Away with Murder TV Poster Image
Tense legal procedural is steamy with some violence.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 18 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

All the main characters are supposedly on the side of law and order but will do unethical or at the very least morally questionable things to win cases. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Main characters are of the sympathetic-but-complicated type, with dark secrets in the past or present. The cast boasts exemplary ethnic and racial diversity.

Violence

The lawyers and students on-screen take on various cases having to do with homicide and criminal justice; murders and/or deaths are graphically described. Dead bodies may be briefly shown on-screen. Characters enter into a pact to hide a murder. 

Sex

Most of the cast members are single and willing to hook up or partnered but cheating. Expect references to sex and scenes featuring adults in bed kissing and sometimes more, such as when one man tells another man to "turn over" in bed because there's something he wants or a main character is seen in silhouette having sex on a desk. No nudity or sensitive body parts are shown. 

Language

Some cursing: "Get the hell out of here!" There also are gendered curses such as "Stop acting like such a little bitch." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Scenes take place in a bar with characters and extras all drinking cocktails; one character gives another a bottle of wine, saying, "I could use a drink -- or 10."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that How to Get Away with Murder is a drama with an ensemble cast of law students who work with a powerful, complicated attorney and professor. Most of the action falls along the police-procedural spectrum; expect graphic descriptions of violence, death, and murder, occasional depictions of dead bodies, and plot twists concerning terrible deeds. Also expect references to sex as well as on-screen sexual activity, including a character shown in silhouette having extramarital sex on a desk and one man exhorting another man to "turn over" in bed. Lawyers are willing to take morally questionable or unethical actions to win cases; they are praised for doing so and receive no consequences. Many scenes take place in bars, and characters refer to needing a drink. Cursing is generally mild ("Get the hell out of here!") but can be sexist: "Stop acting like a little bitch."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDeb M October 19, 2014

Viola Davis is amazing but Show Gets more sexually graphic each week

I love Viola Davis. Love her, love her, love her. And she is amazing in this role. BUT (HUGE, Colossal BUT), the show is very sexual - innuendo, seductive dialo... Continue reading
Parent of a 14 year old Written bymarian88 October 28, 2014

Not For My Child

As a Christian I feel this show is morally corrupting. We really don't need another TV show that teaches our children they don't have to have morals,... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byFathomT October 19, 2014

Not for your average 10 year old

While a truly excellent show, this is not not NOT what you want a kid to see. I swear, some of the sex scenes are more graphic than ones on cable. Not entirely... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byCamille Engelson August 4, 2016

How to Get Away with Murder Review

Mature 13-year-olds can probably handle this drama series from producer Shonda Rhimes. Homosexuality and violence are in every episode. Violence since the chara... Continue reading

What's the story?

Created by Shonda Rhimes' production company, HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER circles around powerful defense attorney and criminal law professor Annalise Keating (Viola Davis), a woman with a complicated life. She'll do almost anything to win the freedom of the innocent (or the guilty) accused criminals she defends; at home, she's placating loyal husband Sam (Tom Verica) with promises of a baby; and she's carrying on a hot and very morally questionable affair with a local detective, Nate (Billy Brown). The story picks up at the beginning of the year in Keating's classroom, a time when she selects a group of the most promising law students to come work at her law firm. The group this year includes naive newbie Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch); overachiever Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King); prickly outsider Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza); amoral party boy Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee); and Ivy League frat boy Asher Millstone (Matt McGorry). It's a group of individuals so different that there's no way they should even know each other, much less be working together shoulder to shoulder. But when Wes becomes entangled with a mysterious neighbor who's the chief suspect in the murder of a local coed, and all five of the students and Annalise herself are mixed up in a murder that's decidedly closer to home, they'll have to find a way to make things work.

Is it any good?

Viewers will be a bit disappointed to learn that, though How to Get Away with Murder is executive-produced by Shonda Rhimes and is made by her company, ShondaLand, Rhimes herself didn't crank out the script. Thus Murder lacks the deliriously insane spark that makes other Rhimes-penned shows such as Scandal or network stalwart Grey's Anatomy so compulsively watchable. Instead, though Viola Davis is so powerful on the small screen that she practically shoots sparks, she's working with material that's beneath her. The plot is so overstuffed with details about what seems to be a grand total of at least 10 main characters that even ultra-compelling ones such as Davis' Keating don't get enough screen time. 

Still, breathless as it is, Murder is fun. The cast is cute and seems committed to the material, and taking on a case-of-the-week structure with longer-lasting story arcs about the characters' personal lives makes for a reliable source of drama. Fans of legal dramas, and Rhimes fans in particular, should at least give it a shot for the magnetic presence of Davis to see if this one merits a spot on your DVR schedule. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why legal dramas are such an enduring staple of network television. What types of ongoing possibilities for plots do they offer? Why would this be attractive for a television series? 

  • Do the lawyers in How to Get Away with Murder act like real lawyers who might take on homicide cases? Why, or why not? What about them seems realistic or unrealistic to you? 

  • Have you watched any other shows by executive producer Shonda Rhimes? How are they like this show or unlike it? Does Rhimes' involvement make you want to like the show or make you less likely to watch? Would your opinion change if you knew that Rhimes didn't write the script for this show? 

TV details

For kids who love drama

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