Why ABC’s 'How To Get Away With Murder' Is Actually The Worst

Why ABC’s 'How To Get Away With Murder' Is Actually The Worst

I came for the diversity and left after the stereotypes.

When “How to Get Away with Murder” made its debut on television it claimed to be a diverse show with a diverse cast, and they had a black woman as a strong leading lady, so that was new and exciting. Shonda Rhimes had basically done the same thing with “Scandal,” but I digress.

I fell for this propaganda because honestly you put Viola Davis in anything and I’m there. Unfortunately not even beautiful and multi-talented Viola could salvage the utter garbage this show turned into.

I thought the first season was amazing. My fiancé and I diligently tuned in every week and were always ready for more. Who killed Sam? It was all anyone around me – anyone who was cool – was talking about every Thursday. The first season felt like it breathed new life into television.

It was during the second season that I started seeing the cracks – the stereotypical hogwash – and I realized that those cracks had been there all along. They were hiding behind Viola Davis’ and Alfred Enoch’s raw talent and their dedication to their characters.

I was more than a little upset when I realized I had been duped. This wasn’t a show that would break down stereotypes and bring us closer as a society – not even Matt McGorry’s sick dance moves could bring me peace. Basically, “How to Get Away with Murder” doesn’t break down stereotypes, it relies on them for the drama. This can be explained in four characters: Annalise Keating, Wes Gibbins, Laurel Castillo, and Oliver Hampton.

When we’re introduced to Annalise Keating we are introduced to a beautiful, strong, and ridiculously intelligent woman who is cheating on her husband. With a black man, Nate Lahey. Who is also cheating on his cancer-ridden wife. The show tries to remedy this faux paw by also making Sam stray and showing that Annalise and her husband really aren’t in love anymore.

Okay. So you introduce us to a “diverse” interracial couple and then show all the ways in which their marriage is dysfunctional. Makes sense.

On top of this Annalise is kind of an alcoholic and her relationship with her mother is strained, oh and the only way she could make it to the position she’s in as a lawyer is by playing dirty. Black women can be dynamic characters and I appreciate that Annalise has flaws but the amount of flaws Annalise exhibits are a little much. She literally helps cover up her husband’s murder! I think some of her “depth” could have been thrown on the cutting block.

And I’m not even going to get into the issue of Nate Lahey not being able to stay faithful in his marriage and then being easily targeted for the murder of Sam. Nope, not even going to touch it.

Moving onto Wes Gibbins, or Waitlist as Connor Walsh so lovingly referred to him in the first episode, his story is just as rife with issues. Wes, you left us too soon but let’s discuss how they completely ripped apart your character and made you the poster child for every “black men can’t control their temper” stereotype.

Wes showed so much promise, didn’t he? He’d made it into an Ivy League college. He was flirting with his odd next door neighbor. He made friends and was drafted into the “Keating Five.” Oh but it’s revealed in season two that he probably only got into that Ivy League college because Annalise had been keeping watchful eyes on him since he was accused of his mother’s murder at age 12.

Wes is the one to kill Sam. Wes is the one to shoot Annalise. He was the show’s scapegoat from the beginning. Wes is only in this position because Annalise felt guilty and now he’s taken his rough childhood and channeled it into killing and maiming people. Good job. And he doesn’t even get a redemption arch.

Nope, they used Wes – completely destroyed his character – and then had him killed at the end of season three. He had lost his mother, his girlfriend, his lousy ass father was shot two feet in front of him, and now he’s dead.

Before Wes died he was in a relationship with Laurel Castillo. Do you kind of see a pattern here? People of color sure do get into some tricky situations in this show. Laurel had a rough upbringing. She was kidnapped at 16 and her father – involved in some seriously shady business – did not pay the ransom. Her relationship with her father is strained and her mother was sent to an institution after having a mental breakdown. Laurel is pregnant with Wes’s baby at the end of season three.

I stopped watching when Wes died, but I do know Laurel believes her father killed Wes and Annalise believes Laurel’s father is out to murder the baby as well. Basically, Laurel was supposed to be a Latina woman who owns her sexuality, is not afraid to go above and beyond to achieve her success, and is ridiculously loyal. Instead, she’s now plagued by whatever business her father is involved in – because having a Latino man achieve success normally would have been too out of the realm of possibilities for this show.

I get that every character his issues, every character is plagued by ridiculous amounts of ‘wow not okay’ situations, but every single member of the “Keating 5,” excluding Asher, is a minority. It seems a little much.

Finally, this brings me to Oliver Hampton. Olly is adorable, he’s the character that’s going to get sleazy Connor to calm down and commit to a relationship, and he’s kind of a genius. And then the show’s creators think it’ll be a good idea to have the drama of making Connor and Oliver go through HIV testing and guess what – promiscuous Connor is negative but Oliver is positive.

The show wanted to create an open line of conversation about HIV and HIV prevention and HIV diagnosis but the whole thing just falls flat. It seems like a glorified story trope used to garner sympathy for a character who was already a fan favorite. There was no need to give Olly that diagnosis. There was no need to make Connor unable to commit. And yet, the show relied on tired stereotypes of gay men instead of creating a functional and loving relationship between two men.

I could go on and on about many other issues with this show, but I’ll stop the rant here. Basically, “How to Get Away with Murder,” didn’t live up to its hype. It gave us a mix of characters – but inundated their stories with harmful stereotypes of their culture – it lacks creativity and political correctness. Honestly, I’m sick of seeing this show being dragged into another season where they can make Michaela Pratt the angry black woman or show just how Annalise can’t healthily cope with her issues. I’m praying for the day it gets cancelled.

And I will forever be salty that out of everyone who could have possibly died it was Wes. You messed up ABC.

Cover Image Credit: IGN

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My Very First Best Friend Was My Uncle, And He Was Taken Too Soon

Uncle Jeff was more than an uncle. He was my best friend.

People always say that your siblings are your first best friends. I was an only child for almost four years. So, mine was my uncle. It's been a month since I was able to talk to him. He passed away February 16. My mom taught him everything from throwing a football to driving a car. He was sick and was an embarrassment to his father. That's why his sisters taught him what his father should have.

When I was born, he was only four years removed from high school. He never actually held me but my mom had to have her gallbladder removed. He had to help babysit me. Apparently, we were best friends immediately. From then on, we were inseparable.

He taught me about football and video games. We watched Disney. A lot. He was the only person that I could get to watch High School Musical with me all 800078943829 times I watched it. He is the reason that I have a morbid fear of masks. He chased me around wearing a Michael Meyers mask all of the time. But he stopped doing that when I got big enough to chase him with a broom.

He got me hooked on Tim Burton. We watched Beetlejuice every day and drove Nana crazy watching The Corpse Bride until the disk started messing up. Then he bought a new one. He accepted every stage of my awkward childhood and was an escape from my real world.

His passion was Oxford High School football. He was the manager from 1985-1992. He was with them for their ups and downs, state championships and losses. He was as involved as anyone else on the team even though he couldn't actually play.

When it came time to decide what I would do with my extra time in high school, I wanted to continue what he started. I wanted to carry on the school spirit our family was known for. I decided to do color guard. And then show choir. And then Diamond Dolls. I wanted so much to be known for the same things he was because he was my best friend and role model.

He was proud of everything I did. He was doubly proud when my younger sister joined band my second year and then color guard my senior year. No matter what we did, he was genuinely proud of us.He never used our accomplishments to brag about himself. He, unlike many people in our lives, bragged about us to anyone who would listen just to brag about us. He was almost as proud of us as he was his letterman jacket, which is now my most prized possession.

When I graduated high school and tried out for the Southerners color guard, he prayed for me to make it every night until the night I called Nana and told them I made it. Not ten seconds later, he posted it on Facebook for everyone and their mother to read.

He got sick in October. Well, sicker than normal. He had CO2 poisoning. It was touch and go for a few days. He even Code Blued -- died for people like me and not a nursing major-- three times the second night he was in the hospital. Somehow, he made it the week we were told he wouldn't. Then two weeks. Then three. At a month, he woke up, something we were told he would never do. Then he started communicating.

At two months, they started PT. He was never supposed to wake up and he was out of bed walking short distances. If he wasn't doing PT that day, they were taking his trach collar off and he was breathing on his own. Then, he was transferred.

When they transferred him, he was getting a little better. Then he wasn't. He started to go downhill at the end of January, three months in. He got an infection that made him sleep for like a week straight. after he woke up, I was the only one that could figure out what he was saying since his iPad was taken home without permission. Pretty soon after, he started shutting down. They couldn't do his dialysis so he retained a lot of fluid.

February 15th, they moved him to ICU again. They maxed out his medicines the day before and wanted to try to bring some of those down. They got a 24-hour dialysis machine on him. That was the last day that I saw my best friend alive. He was unconscious, in pain, and weeping from almost every spot on his body from being so swollen. My mom told him, "If you're fighting for you, fight until your body can't fight anymore. If you're fighting for us, let go. We can handle it."

The one time he had to listen when he was told to do something. We left that night at 10 and got home at 12.

He passed away February 16th at 2:30 AM. My sister and I sang his three favorite songs at his funeral. He will never know how much him being here meant to people. He was the boy who never frowned.

He will never know the respect and love an entire town had for him. He was one of the few men in my life that wasn't terrible. He was my very first best friend. He was like my big brother more than he was my uncle. I miss him everyday and will treasure his jacket and ring for the rest of my life.

RIP Uncle Jeff. I love you and I miss you.

Cover Image Credit: Personal Photo

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21 Reasons Why Adidas’ Holi Commercial Is Obviously Religious And Cultural Appropriation To Hindus Everywhere

As five Indians of many, this is our wake-up call to Adidas that using Holi to expand the brand name will not get past us.

Co-written by Safa Ghaya, Divya Joshi, Oneeka Kohli, Alma Maldonado, Maitri Patel and Shreya Ravichandran

Imagine an open field on a sunny day. Everyone is wearing a white shirt and faded pants, and you see bag of colored powder in their hands. There’s a water hose and buckets ready to the side, and every single person has a smile on their face. Welcome to Holi, the festival of colors.

You can also call it the Hindu festival appropriated by Adidas in its commercial to sell the “Hu Holi” clothing line. As Indians, Hindus and other minorities, we don’t approve of the European company using our culture to make money for itself. Here are just 24 of the countless reasons why Adidas’ Holi commercial is cultural appropriation in its finest form.

1. You’re not appreciating the holiday. You’re using it to make money.

You’ve essentially used a Hindu holiday for the sake of Western capitalizing and profit in the fashion industry — mercantile greed. Adidas really doesn't care about Holi. They only care about making money off of it.

2. Pharrell isn’t Hindu, so why is he representing a Hindu holiday?

The face of the advertisement is someone who isn’t even Indian, taking away from the company’s attempt at appreciating Hindu culture. At least find someone who matches the culture you’re describing.

3. When Adidas assumed Pharrell could represent Hindu culture as a POC, they took opportunities from Indian artists.

By commissioning an American man who knows nothing about Hindu religion and practices and didn’t bother to thoroughly research, Adidas grossly overlooked Indian and Hindu designers, artists and models that could have represented the festival accurately. It would have been more appropriate for Pharrell to simply seem more interested in the details that others were explaining to him.

Hindus should represent their own religion, instead of letting someone else take one look at the holiday, decide that it might be fun and assume that Holi is only about the colors.

Just because Pharrell Williams is a man of color does not mean he has ultimate knowledge and jurisdiction to represent other minority groups’ cultures as well.

4. The clothing line is way too expensive for what is being sold.

Starting from $40, it goes all the way to $300 for a hoodie and a pair of shoes. Really?

5. The point of Holi is to wear old clothes and have fun getting them colored.

You’re defeating the entire purpose of this part of the Holi celebration. This means you don’t know what the tradition fully is.

6. The fashion line is tye-dye, which isn’t anything like Holi patterns.

Don’t use a Hindu tradition as an excuse to reach out to a further target audience. You know the patterns don’t accurately reflect what the clothes look like once the festival is over.

7. The collection overlooked every single other aspect of Holi besides the colors.

The company did not include any other representation of Holi in the design. Holi is not simply a festival where people randomly throw colored powder at each other. It is commenced by prayer and has many other aspects, such as rose water guns, the burning of Holika, the music, the dancing and the special foods Hindus eat during the holiday.

There are many ways to implement these different traditions without randomly dying a hoodie and passing it off as a “Holi design,” making this meaningful holiday seem like a one-dimensional excuse to get your clothes dirty.

8. There seems to be a lack of effort within the designs.

One of the shoes in the collection is very minimal — $250 for a pair of plain white shoes. Is this seriously what Indian culture is being “appreciated” for?

9. The collection disregarded the most symbolically important color used in Holi.

They did not use red or pink tones in the multicolored designs, even though those hues are the most significant in the Hindu holiday of Holi. Red and pinkish colors symbolize the burning of evil and impurity from one’s heart and desires. If they wanted to represent the colors of the festival appropriately, they should have at least included the correct tones used in Holi in all of the articles of clothing. Instead they used dull, faded neon colors that don’t represent the ones actually used to play Holi.

10. Touching something using one's feet is considered disrespectful.

And because Holi is such a sacred festival, the fact that they made a line of shoes dedicated to this is extremely disrespectful to the religion. Adidas did not take time to understand the values of Hinduism before creating the ad because the company is known mainly as a shoe brand, and feet are considered the least sacred part of the body. This means placing patterns depicting a religious festival on the feet is degrading.

Although this was meant to be appreciation, the lack of knowledge on Adidas’ part symbolizes appropriation for pure commercial benefit, nothing else.

11. Holi is meant to mark getting rid of worries, symbolized by starting off with a clean shirt.

At the beginning of the powder part of the festival, the white shirt symbolizes a blank canva, and as the color goes on the canvas, the worries decrease. The addition of color is throwing away those fears, and Adidas takes away from that by simply selling the patterned shirts at the end.

12. Adidas and Pharrell took aspects of the Hindu religion and Indian culture and made it seem as if it belonged to them.

They took a European company and an American singer to market something that belongs to India and Hinduism. Hindus like to work for what they want, and they don’t appreciate others taking away what is rightfully theirs just to make money.

13. It is as if Pharrell learned the spiritual concepts behind this holiday but simply forgot them.

Even though he wanted to make a change, the way he presented this was not in any way justified. It is as if he felt that a dominant culture needed to swoop in and steal a key element of a minority.

14. This isn't the first time Pharrell has culturally appropriated before...

He was once seen wearing a red-face, Native American headdress for fashion. This backlash for the Adidas commercial is more than a simple accident because he should have understood the consequences of his actions just from experience.

15. You can see that people don’t care about the cultural “significance” behind the shoes.

Looking on YouTube and other sites, users who do reviews only buy them for the design, meaning Adidas knew the design was appealing to others more than the true meaning.

16. Adidas does not know anything about the religious significance of Holi when “appreciating” it.

The website says to “celebrate the multicolored hues of humanity” with no allusions to the meaning of Holi. There is a rich history in Hinduism of the story of Prahlad and Holika — the symbolism of the fight of a good heart against greed and other forms of evil — that was not represented at all. Additionally, the Hindu god Krishna originally started the holiday by painting his lover Radha’s face blue to match his own skin (also blue in color). None of this backstory was used to fully represent Holi and its religious significance in order to display a religious holiday.

If Adidas just wanted a nice design without possibly offending anybody, they could have picked another holiday without such heavy religious significance or not even associated the line with Holi in the first place.

17. The creators assumed that Holi was a holiday like Christmas, something open for everyone to celebrate.

However, its religious connotation is too large to ignore because first and foremost, it is a Hindu holiday celebrating parts of the religion that are not understood by everyone in the world. The festival is specific to Hindus in that every single aspect, including the colors, is symbolic of our lives and what we believe in.

18. The Hu Holi collection used powder dye in order to get the colors on the shoes and clothes.

But Hindus use powder during the festival for a reason. Powder dye is completely different and means nothing to us.

19. Pharrell doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself in the videos.

There easily could have been a representative who was more appreciative and more willing to learn about the culture.

20. Nowadays, religions and cultures are looked down upon in the U.S.

But all of the sudden, it's okay to use them to make "fashionable" clothing lines.

21. Cultural appropriation is more common now than ever.

And there needs to be more education focused around distinguishing the difference between celebrating a culture and taking advantage of it for personal or financial gain.

Adidas, now that Indians have gotten our point across, it's time for you to apologize and either take down the line or rename it. That's all we're asking for.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube / Adidas Originals

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