Queue: Strong Black Women

Kathryne LeBell, Senior Staff

“How to Get Away With Murder”

In this sleek thriller series from ABC, Annalise Keating, played by Viola Davis, is a renowned criminal defense attorney and the professor of an introductory law school course. The show’s timeline begins at the beginning of the semester, where she invites five students to intern at her firm. At the same time, at some undisclosed point in the future, these five students cover up a murder. As the show progresses, the timelines converge and viewers discover who was murdered and why.

The show boasts an impressively diverse cast, with a slew of strong female characters. The students aid Keating in her cases, finding evidence to prove their defendant innocent and get a passing grade. Moral conundrums are a regular occurrence, with the struggle to defend someone regardless of their actual innocence popping up in almost every episode. Annalise is a tiger, ripping prosecutors apart to defend her clients with a ferocity that would scare the “Law and Order” crew, and fighting against her own lies unraveling.

Rating: 5/5

“Scandal”

Washington D.C. is a hive of dangerous secrets, the kind that can turn the entire country over. Kerry Washington plays Olivia Pope, who operates a crisis management firm, which either keeps these secrets quiet, or reveals them in the most opportune way. Loosely based on the life of Judy Smith (press aide for the first Bush administration), Olivia Pope glides through the darker side of American politics, balancing her own secrets against those of her clients.

Pope’s relationship to the president is a recurring plot point, as well as her relationships with members of her firm. Every member of the cast is savvy and gorgeous and the glamour of elite politics pervades every scene. That being said, it also employs a number of tropes, which can make the plot-divergent “crisis of the week” episodes a little dull (an unsurprising mark of show creator Shonda Rhimes). Overall, though, “Scandal” is a great deal of fun and not a bad show to have on in the background.

Rating: 3.5/5

“Middle of Nowhere”

This film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012, and addresses the lives of women living in Compton, California and the large role that incarceration plays in those lives. Emayatzy Corinealdi plays Ruby, a medical student whose life is drastically changed when her husband receives an eight-year prison sentence. Over the course of the film, Ruby struggles with prioritizing things in her life and what she can rely on.

When her husband Derek, played by Omari Hardwick, is incarcerated for reasons never specified, she drops out of school to help pay his legal fees, as well as visit him two hours away. This conflict is deepened when Derek joins a prison gang and maintains criminal contacts outside. Ruby’s noble, intelligent character is juxtaposed against Derek’s weaker, less determined one. Primarily a character study, “Middle of Nowhere” addresses one of the largest issues in our country through a compassionate, somber lens. 

Rating: 4/5