"How To Get Away With Murder" Normalizes Diversity

"How To Get Away With Murder" Normalizes Diversity

Prime time is changing for the better.

"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.

Popular Right Now

15 Texts We'd Get From Dogs If They Had Thumbs

"If you're reading this, send Milk Bones."

Let's be real, anyone who has a dog knows that it if we could, we would text our dogs all day long. If they could text us, our thread would look something like...

1. "Are you coming home soon?! Let's go out!"

2. "So not to be weird... but you never ended up answering me last night... Am I the good boy? Idk I just want to be clear on our relationship I don't want to be lead on if I'm not."

3. "The cat is being such a bit** I literally can't stand her"

4. "Hey, just wondering, are you going to wear those black booties tonight? If you are, I'll chew the zipper out of the brown ones instead."

5. "Okay, so don't freak out, but something not so chill happened on the rug..."

6. "Are there any leftovers in the trash? I'm not gonna get into it, I was just curious. Love u."

7. "If you're reading this... bring Milk Bones."

8. "Hey, what's for dinner tonight?! Purina again?"

9. "Miss you!!"

10. "Are you gonna eat that food on the counter or is that for everyone? Asking for the cat."

11. "I LOVE YOU"

12. "OMG, I can't wait for you to come home on break! Can you sleep in the guest room tho? Mom said I could have your room when you moved out. Love u!"

13. "Ice cream date later?!"

14. "We should go for a walk I need to get my ass back in shape for summer. You should be my workout buddy!"

15. "Netflix and chill tonight?"

Cover Image Credit: Salon

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

6 Tips To Relieve Stress Before A Performance

Find relaxation through simple things like breathing and bananas.


Performances of any kind whether it's musical, theatrical, or simply public speaking can be extremely nerve-wracking. Something about standing in front of tons of people we do and don't know makes our knees shake. As a music major and a performer, I have learned many tips and tricks to stand tall, look up, and be confident in these nail-biting situations. Here are my top six techniques for calming the tension.

Make sure you're prepared.

There's nothing like the fear of "what if I mess up?" Practicing as much as possible and being completely ready ensures the most likely chance of a flawless performance. Memorizing lines behind the curtain three minutes before your entrance is a good way to terrify yourself. Being prepared will calm your stress levels so that you can be confident in what you know.

Eat bananas.

Bananas are natural beta blockers that prevent adrenaline from binding to beta receptors. When stress levels cause your potassium to drop, bananas – which are potassium-rich – will help in sending oxygen to your brain, stabilizing your heartbeat, and regulating your hydration.


While you practice, before the performance, and especially during it, remember to breathe. Your brain needs oxygen and when you're nervous, it doesn't get enough. Personally, the 4-7-8 Method works best. Breathe in for four seconds, hold it for seven, and release it for eight as you feel all the tension go away.

Try progressive relaxation.

This is a technique that tricks your brain into relaxing. Start at your toes and clench them as tight as possible, then do the same with your calves. Slowly work your way up, tensing and relaxing each muscle. Finally, once your muscles are all relaxed, your brain will begin to calm as well.

Visualize your success.

Imagine yourself walking out onstage and acing the performance. Envision a flawless run of your material where you hit every note, land every pirouette, or remember every word. Instead of focusing on what you could do wrong, picture what you know you can do right.

Know that messing up is normal.

Little bobbles are going to happen and the audience knows that. Everyone is human so remember that it's important to have fun, be confident, do what you know, and keep going even if you mess up.

Related Content

Facebook Comments