How To Get Away With Murder: We’re Not Friends Review

Inconsistence and mismatched acting performances continue to plague How to Get Away With Murder. Here's our review...

Five weeks into How to Get Away With Murder, what’s old is new, as each episode reveals more of the inner lives of the various characters. I imagine that until Sam’s murder is discovered and resolved by season’s end, the show will open the same way. Bird’s eye view on bonfire, somersaulting cheerleading into the air, landing as if atop a mosh pit, and then circle back several weeks and or months prior to the night in question.  

The weekly cases are written to teach and push the law students vying for the statue and Annalise’s attention. If viewers pay attention, we can also learn about the legal system.

Episode five, “We’re Not Friends,” has Michaela searching for her engagement ring on all-fours in the vicinity of corpse. The others exchange furtive and nervous looks, while trying to remain calm and unnoticed by passersby. The excitement and noise of the celebration is meant to mask their cover-up. However, in a real life scenario of drinking, partying and intoxicated college students, someone is bound to stumble upon the disposal scene. Cue the couple on the foggy overhead pass who think they hear something or someone below in the tunnel or wooden area. They hear Frank’s call to Laurel. The female student yanks her boyfriend’s shoulder and they leave. No need to lurk about if there’s something afoot.

One of my issues with the show thus far is how easily the actors run hot and cold emotionally within a short window of time. Their acting isn’t balanced and subtle. Their performances are superficial rather than grounded in any sort of acting technique and training. Good and great actors live in the moment until something or someone interrupts or transports them to the next moment or beat. I don’t like seeing actors work. Good actors are able to tell a story with a look or nonverbal response. There’s no need for squeaky-wheeled performances. On my actor’s bookshelf are An Actor’s Handbook and Building a Character by Constantin Stanislavski and A Dream Of Passion – The Development Of The Method by Lee Strasberg.

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I admit I might be asking a lot of the younger television actors, however, it is a risk for all involved. I’ve discussed stereotypes and archetypes in previous reviews, so there’s no need to repeat here. Film and television acting is different than theatre, yet they all share a similar expectation – believability. Create a character in rehearsal and set him or her free to live in the alternate universe the writer(s) establish. 

The wigless, tearful, snotty scenes with Viola Davis and Tom Verica are rather telling. Is Viola too big for this role, or is it the writers are experimenting and struggling to stretch it to fit her talent?

There’s no remorse on Tom Verica’s face. He doesn’t rise up to meet Viola who has shown up to bring Annalise Keating to life on the screen. Tom’s Sam Keating doesn’t even register guilt in the face of his adultery and lies. Given that Annalise was his previous mistress while married to his first wife, he ought to be a better liar or play it differently. The stakes are higher in light of Lila’s murder. Cheating and suspicion of murdering one’s current mistress demand different performance levels, but Tom Verica phones it in. There’s a mismatch between Viola and Tom. He’s robotic and she’s three-dimensional, tactile.

Annalise’s character is cold, brutal and/or stern with everyone else except Nate, the one person she chooses to lower her guard with and be vulnerable. I’m still drawing a blank as to why and how Annalise loses her backbone and will to live whenever she’s around Nate. He needn’t be the police chief, a senator or CEO to justify the weakened, helpless version of herself.

Why is Annalise so rude to people in close physical proximity to her? She’s yet to show any healthy emotional friendships or past relationships. The writers need to introduce an ally for Annalise. No one achieves anything in life without support of family, friends or loved ones. Unfortunately, she has no one in her corner. 

If Bonnie has a crush on Sam, why keep her around? Oh, yes, as not to seem hypocritical because of her one-time affair with Nate. 

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A house the size of Annalise’s should have a bathroom on the ground floor. Rebecca’s discovering the wallpaper in the background of the torso picture felt contrived. 

Credibility issue: Laurel shows up to Frank’s apartment bruised and dirty, yet he doesn’t blink nor question her when she removes the coveted statue? Perhaps we have to wait until next week or a later episode to flashback to the continuation of that puzzle piece.

Only on television or in the movies do characters abandon their apartment, leaving the key in the opened door. Wes’s just happening to return to the apartment building moments afterward, searching briefly and then calling Rebecca was another instance of contrivance to push the story forward in television time.

At episode’s end, Wes just walks into Annalise’s house at night, wearing a hoodie no less, and confronts her about the wallpaper shown in the infamous penis pictures on the cell phone. Where does she live in Philadelphia as not to lock her doors at night and not have an alarm? What world does Wes live in that it’s okay to walk into Annalise’s house at night at the risk of physical harm or death? 

And we’re back to the tearful, pained expression on Annalise’s face during Wes’s interrogation. I get what the writers are attempting to do with the show, I constantly find myself questioning the implementation. Annalise needs to be slicker and more in control of her life, her husband and definitely needs to set boundaries with her students. Her personal skill set must equal or exceed her professional prowess. An untrained person doesn’t win a marathon.

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Rating:

3 out of 5