"How To Get Away With Murder" Normalizes Diversity

"How To Get Away With Murder" Normalizes Diversity

Prime time is changing for the better.
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"How To Get Away With Murder" is shattering barriers for women, minority, and LGBTQ representation in mainstream media. Groups that are typically shoved into ensemble roles (or in many cases, not even on the screen at all) finally have an outlet where they can show their expertise as actors, capable of keeping viewers hooked.

Created by Peter Nowalk and produced by Shonda Rhimes, "How to Get Away with Murder" captivated audiences all across the nation when it premiered last fall. Reviews are largely positive, averaging about 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the critical consensus from the same website reported, that it “delivers thrills with melodramatic twists and a captivating lead.”

In less than two years, 20 different award ceremonies have honored the cast and crew with nominations and wins, including a GLAAD award for Outstanding Drama Series, three NAACP Image Awards, and a People’s Choice Award and Golden Globe nomination for Viola Davis in particular.

In addition, it even gave Davis a platform to become the first African American woman to win an Emmy for Best Leading Actress in a Drama Series. But why is "How to Get Away with Murder," known among its fans as HTGAWM so popular? And what does it tell us about audiences watching it?

“Over the course of its first season, HTGAWM has pummeled boundaries when it comes to how diversity, especially in sexual orientation and race, is portrayed on TV—the effects of which we can’t even start to measure now,” reported The Daily Beast in February. “No broadcast television series is doing more for diversity in prime time than this one.”

Annalise Keating, portrayed by Viola Davis on the show, is a tough-love law professor and the head of her own firm, who has chosen five students to help her with cases outside the classroom. While they try and solve other people’s cases, they get caught up in their own web of romance, bloodshed, and deceit. It’s a tangled network with uncertainty and the twists and turns are just as unexpected for the audience as they are for the characters.

Not only does the show feature a racially diverse cast, "How to Get Away with Murder" also explores sexuality in a far more fluid and nuanced way than other shows. Keating has relations with her white husband, her black, male lover, and a white woman.

A bisexual character on a show is rare; a bisexual lead character on a show is almost unheard of. GLAAD, The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, a media monitoring organization founded by LGBTQ people in media, released its “Where We are on TV” report for 2014 and said that out of 813 primetime broadcast series, 3.9% of the series regulars will be LGBTQ.

"How to Get Away with Murder" has two gay leads, a bisexual woman lead, a lesbian reoccurring character, and that doesn’t even include the diverse cast of supporting characters.

Audiences are tired of the straight, white hegemony, and want shows that reflect the issues of today: representation of minorities as whole characters rather than stereotypes, and LGBTQ representations that treat characters with the same sexual freedom and visibility as straight characters.

"How to Get Away with Murder" is changing television and reinventing who we see as prime time leads.

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To the guy that shot my brother...

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To the guy that shot my brother,

On January 9, 2019 my families entire life changed with one phone call. The phone call that my little brother had been shot in the face, no other details. We didn't need any other details. The woman on the phone who called us in full panic told us where he was so we went, as soon as possible. I don't think it helped that not even 10 min prior I talked to Zach on the phone.. kind of irritated with him, and the ONE TIME I didn't say 'I love you' as we hung up. Could've been the last time we ever spoke.. I remember pulling up to the hospital thinking 'this can't be real' 'it's not our Zach' 'this is just a dream Sarah, WAKE UP' I'd close my eyes really tight just to open them, I was still in the hospital emergency parking lot. I could still hear the ambulance sirens coming. It was all real.

The day our life's changed was definitely a test of faith. A test of how strong we were, as a family. I sat in that waiting room ready to see the damage that has been done to my sweet baby brother. Because at that point we had no idea how lucky he got. That glimpse of seeing Zach will haunt me forever. How helpless I felt in that exact moment frequently wakes me up from these horrific dreams I've been having ever since that day. That is a moment burned into my me and families brain forever.

You always hear about these things in the movies or on the news, a house being shot up, someone shooting another innocent person, not to care if they died on your watch. But we found ourselves on the news.. We have been confined to the hospital since that day. Running on barely any sleep, taking shifts of sleep so we don't make ourselves sick taking care of Zach. Watching him suffer. Undergoing surgeries, to repair the damage you did.

Before I proceed let me tell you a little something about the man you shot.

Zachary Keith Wright. A blonde hair blue eyed boy. Who could potentially be the most annoying human on the planet (possibly coming from his sister). A man who loves his God first, loves his family second. Perfect by no means, but almost perfect to me. A 19 year old who was to graduate high school this month. After graduation he was prepping to leave for Marine boot camp in the summer.. being in the military has been Zach's dream since he could talk. Literally. Running around, playing war with underwear on our heads, and finger guns. Some would say we looked like natural born assassins.. growing up he has been a country boy. Let me tell ya country to the core. He loves this country like he loves his family. He believes in helping people, taking charge in what's right, and never leaving a brother behind. He's lived by that his whole life. Until now....

The day you shot him. The day not only did you change my brothers life, you changed his families life too. The day you almost ripped my brother out of this world... for what? A misunderstanding? Because you've let something take ahold of your life that you can't let go you're willing to kill someone innocent over? Luckily for him, his guardian angels were protecting him in your time of cowardice. There were 3 times that day he should've died, the time you shot him, the time you tried to shoot him again as he stared you directly in the face, (even tho he couldn't talk I know you could read his eyes, and he still intimidated you. That's why you tried to pull the trigger again) and the time he was running out of the house. But he lived. A man who was shot in the face, didn't lay there helpless, didn't scream in agony. That MAN walked to the neighbors to get help. Why? Because he's a MAN, and because he's on this earth for a reason.

It's gonna sound a little strange not only to you, but the audience who is reading this. I must say thank you. Even in this situation, this was the best outcome we could get. He gets to live. He will make a full recovery. He will graduate. And he will go off into the Marines. You united my family together. Closer than ever. Thank you. You tested our faith and brought us closer to our God. Thank you. Because of your moment of weakness, you showed us what prayer could do. Heal anything. Thank you. This was a bump in the road, and a helluva way to kick off our year of 2019. But here we are.. all laying in the hospital. I'm looking around as mom is sleeping in her recliner chair exhasted but still here, Zach his awake playing his xbox all hooked up to machines, fighting to heal and get better. And of course I'm writing this letter to you.

See you in trial,

From the girl whose brother you shot.

'Fight the good fight' - 1 Tim 6:12 🤟🏼💙

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