How to Get Away with Murder is ABC and Shonda Rhimes' latest smash hit and it's not hard to see why. Between an intriguing plot that twists and turns to a strong cast of well-acted characters, including overachieving Michaela Pratt, human puppy Wes Gibbins, manipulative schemer Connor Walsh, and of course the walking powerhouse Annalise Keating, there's very little not to love about HTGAWM. But hidden there in the background of the strong personalities, shrinking into the wall as best as she can, is Laurel Castillo. When discussing HTGAWM, you might point to Connor's amazing LGBT-friendly storyline or whether or not Annalise killed her husband Sam on the show before you ever point a finger of interest in Laurel's direction. And why wouldn't you? Hers is not a character that is meant to pull focus.
However, that's exactly why she deserves the focus. There has been a rising trend, especially in 2014, drawing attention to the fact that women are likely to apologize for every little thing. More important, the trend is devoted to getting that to stop. For example, we've had Pantene's "Not Sorry" ad encouraging women to stop apologizing. There's also Bustle's list of 23 things women apologize for that they shouldn't. It's not going to happen overnight, but the more attention we give to the fact that it is in our nature to apologize unnecessarily then the more effort we can all put into stopping it.
What does any of this have to do with Laurel? Well, despite being chosen as one of the elite students who get to work with Annalise in her law firm, Laurel not only looked shocked when she was chosen, but had to be told in episode two to speak up more because her ideas are valid. In stark contrast to the more ambitious and outgoing Michaela, Laurel seems to need to gather her courage to speak up and then shrinks right back into the background when she's done. And yet, as Annalise said, her ideas are good. It is women like Laurel that we need to teach above all to apologize a little less, stand up a little straighter, and speak up a little more. However, since Annalise isn't exactly the most gentle of mentors, I feel the need to be the one to encourage Laurel myself.
An Open Letter to Laurel Castillo: Stop Apologizing for Your Awesomeness
Dear Laurel Castillo,
There have only been two episodes of How to Get Away with Murder released so far and in those two episodes you hide. Unlike Wes, who probably only got accepted because he saw Professor Keating in a private moment, you made it into her circle of students based on your own intelligence and law savvy. You made it into her circle of students based on your own talents and abilities. And yet, even after your acceptance, you hide them. You keep your head down. You let Connor and Michaela walk all over you.
I'm not going to ask you why because I don't need to ask why. We have all been you, Laurel Castillo. I have been you. I have sat anxiously in my seat, knowing the right answer and yet petrified the teacher would actually call on me. I've all been so desperate to prove myself that I blurted out the answer without being called on and embarrassed myself in class. And we have all felt like no one cares what we have to say, no matter how long it took us to say it. We've all hid ourselves. We all understand.
I am, however, going to tell you that you don't need to hide. You don't need to keep your head down. You don't need to let anyone walk all over you. You don't need to find your validation in other people (okay, except maybe in Professor Keating since she decides whether you stay or go). Regardless of what other people think, you matter. And if you haven't actually done anything wrong, then you don't need to apologize. Your voice has as much right to be heard as Wes, Asher, Michaela, and Connor's and you know more than you think you do.
To be honest, the reason I'm writing this is because I see so much of myself in you. You're studying law because you care. You prove it in every episode. I want to tell you the things I wish that someone had told me when I was a child too afraid of looking foolish to speak up, constantly apologizing for the crime of existing in someone else's way. You might be trying to get through How to Get Away with Murder unseen, but I see you, Laurel Castillo. And I'll be watching your character development closely because a lot of it seems like it will mirror my own real-life development.
Except the part where you hook up with Professor Keating's legal assistant. That's just kind of gross.
A Woman Who's Still Learning to Stop Apologizing
Image: ABC; fuckyeshtgawm/Tumblr (3)