Did Shonda Rhimes base Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope from Scandal on herself? Because she's HANDLING IT. Besides Scandal's second part of Season 3 being back this week, Rhimes has been busy elsewhere: she's working on a new show called How To Get Away With Murder for ABC, and it's been announced that the show's star will be the incredible Viola Davis. Murder is gonna be extra scandalous (can it out-scandal Scandal?): "The sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller centers on ambitious law students and their brilliant and mysterious criminal defense professor who become entangled in a murder plot that could rock their entire university and change the course of their lives.”
MURDER. THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM. LEGALESE. It's like Law and Order plus The Talented Mr. Ripley plus Viola effin' Davis.
Davis is best known for her role in the The Help, but she's had a long and rich career which started on stage. She was named one of Time Magazine's most influential people in 2012, and you'd be hard-pressed to forget her brief but mind-blowing performance in Doubt starring the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. We couldn't think of anything better to star in Rhimes' new project: She makes excellent choices in casting leads; are you not hopelessly in love with the glory that is Kerry Washington? Washington, too, started in the movies (most recently Django Unchained) but her star has been propelled to new heights in her role as tough, sharp-as-a-tack, impeccably dressed and secretly vulnerable maverick lawyer Olivia Pope in Scandal.
That makes us even more excited for How To Get Away With Murder, which will be set in Philly. Shonda Rhimes knows how to create characters who are complex, funny, human and, as I mentioned, dressed perfectly. Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope is sensitive but smart, compassionate but shrewd, and most importantly, not infallible to human error. Olivia Pope messes up, a lot (and HOW can she be attracted to Fitz? But that's a question for another day).
Davis's character Annalise DeWitt is described thus far as "a law professor and renowned criminal defense attorney who [is] 'manipulative' and 'brilliant.'" A million big ups to Shonda Rhimes for changing the landscape of black women in major roles on television. I can't wait to see DeWitt get involved in some dirty lawyer murders. What will her signature color be? Who's on her team? WILL THERE BE A SCANDAL CROSSOVER? And will her mantra (let her have one, Shonda!) match the universality of the powerful bad bitch Popeism, "It's handled?"
Time will tell.