“Good morning. I don’t know what terrible things you’ve done in your life up to this point, but clearly your karma’s out of balance to get assigned to my class. […] This is Criminal Law 100. Or, as I prefer to call it, How To Get Away With Murder.”
I just finished watching How To Get Away with Murder, a TV series created by Peter Norfolk and produced by Shonda Rhimes (known for Scandal, Bridgerton and Grey’s Anatomy) which aired from 2014 to 2020, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I believe the series is and will always be among my all-time favorite TV shows and I also know my review will have to focus on the main plot and a brief character introduction because I really want to avoid spoilers (it has been two years since the show ended but many people still haven’t seen it and would like to).
This riveting legal drama focuses on the character of talented lawyer Annalise Keating, who teaches criminal law at Philadelphia’s Middleton University. She always chooses a few students as collaborators for her class, so that they will have the chance to go deeper into the subject than the other regular students. It is anticipated that the best student gets awarded a trophy that will enable them to pass a bonus exam.
At the beginning of the first season, Annalise chooses the five students who will assist her and compete for the trophy, with the help of her two partners, Bonnie and Frank; Wes is a very smart student with a complicated past, Connor is very determined and ready to do anything to achieve his goals. Michaela is a Black student who’s very ambitious, loves to study and wants to be the best (in a way she is like a rebellious version of Hermione Granger). Asher is the son of a notorious judge and he’s in fact a wealthy guy who is somewhat insecure and scared not to be enough, especially when it comes to relationships. Laurel is a brilliant Mexican student who initially gets involved in a romantic relationship with Frank’s character. She comes from a very rich Mexican family that will also have a key role in the plot as the series progresses.
Frank is sort of an assistant to Annalise. He is not a lawyer but he is in charge of handling difficult situations that for the most part need to be kept secret. Bonnie is Annalise’s faithful collaborator and also the person she can trust the most. She comes from a difficult background, as she’s had a very tough childhood; it is clear from so many episodes that Annalise is her “savior”.
These main characters interact with plenty of people throughout the show’s six seasons, so there are a lot of different secondary characters that contribute to the complexity of the plot.
“You are a gladiator. Gladiators don’t run, they fight, they slay dragons, they wipe off the blood, they stitch up their wounds, and they live to fight another day.”
Scandal is a political/drama TV series created by Shonda Rhimes in 2012 and first aired on ABC. I started watching it the following year completely by chance, and it captured me since the very first episode.
The show is centered around Olivia Pope (played by Kerry Washington), a political “fixer” who knows the ins-and-outs of political life in Washington DC. Olivia is an intelligent, very ambitious woman, a communication strategist who runs a law studio in the city and together with her team she handles “scandals” which involve politics and public figures. She is brilliant at what she does and she started out working on the elections campaign of Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III (played by Tony Goldwin), the current President of the United States, with whom she has a passionate, forbidden love affair (the President is married to First Lady Mellie Grant, played by Bellamy Young). A love affair that, with its ups and downs (and some Shakespearean twists!) goes on for the entirety of the show, which lasted seven seasons.
“Chess isn’t always competitive. Chess can also be beautiful.”
The Queen’s Gambit is a Netflix mini-series created by Scott Frank and Allan Scott and based on the 1983 eponymous novel by Walter Tevis, focusing on the life of a young chess prodigy, from her childhood in an orphanage to her first twenty years.
Beth Armon, the main character, is played by actress Anya Taylor-Joy; Beth finds out about chess thanks to Mr. Shaibel, a janitor in the orphanage where she lives, and they both soon realize her immense talent.
Her life is set in 1960s America (spanning the entire decade) and we get to see all the different sides of her personality. Beth as a child is lonely, introverted and very different from her peers. It is easy to play chess for her, but it is harder to understand how to find her own place in the world.
She seems somehow confused in her relationships with other men, has a loving relationship with her new stepmother (although a bit complicated at first), at some point she develops alcohol and tranquilizer addiction so her path is made of trial and error, rise and decline, while searching for balance and victory.
The story could not exist outside the context where it is set; the events take place against the backdrop of the Cold War and the USA – USSR conflict, enriching the tale with a few political connotations. Beth’s story and that of her dangerous opponent, chess champion Vasily Borgov, brings to mind the 1972 chess game between American player Bobby Fischer and world champion Boris Spasskij.
The series title recalls a chess move designed to secure control of the center of the board( “the queen’s gambit”). It is one of the most common chess openings and involves white sacrificing a queen-side pawn.
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