I'm not going to lie: I am a full-blown How to Get Away With Murder addict at this point. Weekly, this is pretty much the only show that I will cancel plans just to ensure I can watch it live — and for the rare event that I miss even one second of the action (or a new development in the season's big mystery about who killed Sam Keating), I have it set for DVR viewing as well. Even being the obsessed fan that I am, though, sometimes it's hard to deny that this show can be a little...unrealistic as well as OMG-worthy. It's a primetime soap, so that is to be expected to some degree, of course. But, this is also a show that's supposed to be about lawyers: You'd think that some parts, like the court scenes, would at least hold some level of realism.
They don't, though. In fact, there are so many unrealistic things about this addictive, must-watch television show that they can be very easily ranked:
Annalise's home security system is apparently terrible
I know it's not particularly abnormal for someone's home to double as their office, but seriously — it seems like Annalise's associates and students can just show up, and even enter her apartment, at all times of the night. I know Annalise is devoted to her job, but seriously: Even workaholics need at least 10 minutes to themselves at night. It's just downright unrealistic for us to believe that Annalise is cool with people coming and going on a full-time basis.
(Plus, you know, her husband is probably a murderer — maybe it's time to get a lock, Annalise.)
Annalise's Student Associates Are Pulled Away From Class All the Time
OK, I know that an internship with someone like Annalise is a huge deal for first-year law students. But, seriously: Do these kids not have other classes? Annalise's course and her law firm are not the only things that they have to focus on — yet, time and time again, the show seems to imply that her interns are just working all hours of the night and somehow not flunking out of every class other than Annalise's.
The law students are solving cases for Annalise more than Annalise is solving them
Even Michaela points this out in episode 8: It seems that, more often than not, Annalise's interns are the ones working and solving cases instead of Annalise herself. I know this is a learning opportunity for them and Annalise is giving them hands-on experience, but Annalise's clients hired Annalise — not a bunch of first-year law students who are torn between their courses and a defense attorney's full workload. (Oh, and don't even ask me to go into that one time Annalise shared details about an open case with her entire 300+ student law class — that's a whole 'nother level of unethical.)
Annalise's court etiquette is often out of line
Look, those court scenes on How to Get Away With Murder might be jaw-dropping and suspenseful, but real open court does not work like it does on the show. First of all, it seems like Annalise is constantly communicating with her associates when she's questioning witnesses, which is something that no judge would allow without at least saying something — it's disrespectful, and looks unprofessional. Secondly, she seems to have no problem introducing new evidence if it's presented to her mid-trial, despite the fact that proper court procedure states that it must first be processed to be included in a trial.
Perhaps the worst offender of all, however, is the moment during episode 8 when Annalise actually introduced new charges to a trial while questioning a witness...and those charges were directed toward the witness, not the person who was actually being tried for a crime. All my years of watching Law & Order: SVU has taught me that the DA would at least try to object to that — Annalise wasn't questioning her witness, she was accusing her witness in a trial that had nothing to do with them — yet, in How to Get Away With Murder, the DA didn't so much as make a peep. I know it helps the story if Annalise always wins, but it's just not realistic.
The students seem to be able to get information through deception so easily
I know that retrieving information through blackmail and quid pro quo happens sometimes in life, but seriously: There are only so many times that Connor can sleep with someone for information. In reality, at one point, someone would refuse to play along.
The students seem to be able to get open case files easily, as well
Furthermore — how is it that a first-year law student can waltz into a court house, request files on an open court case, and somehow get them with no questions asked? How is the judicial system so inept at security in this show?!
Annalise's two associates, Bonnie and Frank, are way too loyal
OK, I know there's such a thing as loving your job. Lucky people who have great jobs, great bosses, and a work live they're devoted to do exist! However, the show seems to drive the idea into the audience's heads that Bonnie and Frank, Annalise's two associates, are eternally devoted to Annalise and basically worship her. It's all well and good if writers want us to believe that Annalise can easily ask them to do stuff for her — but no one can realistically be that devoted to someone else. Even happy employees have boundaries.
Does no one study?
This goes along with the plot point that Annalise's law student interns are pulled away from class and other engagements 24/7 to work for her: We seem to rarely see them studying for any other class than Annalise's, and even those scenes are scarce. I know this show is about Annalise, but seriously, are we supposed to believe that these kids work for Annalise all night, attend classes all day, then study for exams during the one hour they have left after all that? It's miraculous that no one has developed narcolepsy yet from sheer exhaustion.
No one else in Annalise's class ever excels
Perhaps this isn’t exactly unrealistic in terms of practicing the law, but it is something that bothers me a lot. In the pilot episode, Annalise offered her students — in a class of 300+ people! — the opportunity to win a trophy that would exempt them from any exam they chose, no questions asked. Unrealistic, but fine, I'll bite.
Now, however, 8 episodes into the season, the only people to have secured the trophy are Annalise's law interns, despite the fact that there are still 300+ students in the class. Seriously, does no one else ever excel? Are the rest of them even aware that we have no clue who they are? If there's one thing I want from this show by the end of season 1, it's for some quiet kid in the back corner to get his moment in the limelight — for all we know, at this point, everyone else's name is Glen Coco or something.
If a lawyer pulled the stunts that Annalise pulls, they would have been remanded IRL at this point
It's fine if the show wants us to believe that Annalise gets away with walking a thin line between ethical and unethical — with any show, there's always going to be some suspension of disbelief. However, Annalise has often pulled pretty ridiculous stunts in court, including viciously questioning witnesses even as a DA and a judge object. If a defense lawyer did something like that in court for real, they'd at least be held in contempt of the court — if not disbarred all together.
Despite all of this, though, nothing matters. As unrealistic as this show can be…it’s still amazing television, and that’s really all that matters. Just beware: If you find yourself beginning to desire a career in law, don't let this show be your inspiration. AT ALL. (Except, perhaps, for your wardrobe.)