As we head into the two-hour season finale, let's look at the impact How To Get Away With Murder has had in its first season. Creator Peter Nowak and executive producer Shonda Rhimes took what would normally be a procedural crime show and made it completely rad with an interesting, single-focus story, a diverse and stellar cast that included an award-winning film actress, and a healthy amount of whodunnit. Everyone tweeted about it like mad, making it one of the most engaging shows on social media, and it premiered to absolutely huge ratings—with 6 million views over 3 days, it had the biggest ever total viewer increase.
Let's look at a few reasons this show is such a massive hit, and why we're psyched for tonight's finale.
1. The use of flashbacks was not only interesting, but a riveting way to tell a multi-narrative story. Even though you know Sam is dead by the end of the very first episode, the show still built suspense and developed all of the characters in a way that left you wondering what really happened.
2. The way Connor Walsh (played by Jack Falahee) moved his eyes, at all, ever.
3. Even though she served as executive producer on the show and not creator, How To Get Away With Murder helped Shonda Rhimes make history as the only person to ever dominate an entire night of network TV.
4. Any time Frank (Charlie Weber) existed.
5. The inimitable Bonnie Winterbottom (Liza Weil). Her temper shrank with her haircuts, and it's wonderful that this show brought a version of grown-up Paris Geller back into our lives. (Paris would definitely work for a murder magnet like Annalise Keating.)
6. Humanizing Annalise Keating with this intense wig-removing scene. While she rarely looks vulnerable from the outside, this scene marked a turning point that allowed us to see the process Annalise goes through to become the badass we see stomping around on a regular basis. It was particularly remarkable to see an African-American woman dress down this way; the scene really turned the narrative of the "strong black woman" on its ear by showing her fragility.
7. Not knowing whether anyone in The Keating Five was going to lose their minds with the stress and pressure of what they were hiding. Law school is hard enough!
8. Keeping Asher Millstone (played by Matt McGorry) in the dark. It's hilarious how mad he was about missing that bonfire when it was the worst night of everyone else's life, but it's also a good point of storytelling to keep someone on the outside looking in. He's sort of us in a lot of ways, trying to piece it all together.
9. Micheala and Laurel's growing friendship. Awww.
And: Another way this show rocked our world? By taking the plot down such a strange, twisted path that there's no way we can guess how the season will end. Will Rebecca Sutter end up being the villain she looks to be? Is Sam's sister going to uncover something? Are there witnesses waiting in the wings somewhere? Are any of these students going to pass this class?
Danielle Henderson is a lapsed academic, heavy metal karaoke machine, and culture editor at Fusion. She enjoys thinking about how race, gender, and sexuality shape our cultural narratives, but not in a boring way.