Why 'HTGAWM' Seasons Are Shorter Than Most Shows

by Taylor Ferber
Mitch Haaseth/ABC

In 2014, How to Get Away with Murder, the newest addition to Shondaland's iconic TGIT lineup, became an instant hit. Which was inevitable, right? Shonda Rhimes knows how to give people what they want, and people want more twisty, sexy storylines — ones with none other than Viola Davis at the helm. However, since the Season 3 finale last Thursday, Feb. 23, fans are still wondering why they only get 15 episodes per season instead of the usual 22-episode season like Scandal and Black-ish. I, a committed Shondaland lover, admit the fans have become greedy. But there's rhyme and reason as to why How To Get Away With Murder's seasons are so short. When you find out, you won't even be mad about it.

The show was labeled a "limited series" from the get go in 2014, when it was first announced at the Television Critics Association press tour. Fewer episodes was the small price to pay to get leading lady and all-around badass Viola Davis on board. According to Deadline, big stars (such as Kevin Bacon in The Following) are more enticed to sign on to a broadcast show if it's limited, so they have room to pursue feature films and other projects. It's worth it, and, if the fan obsession wasn't enough to prove it, the history-making awards Davis has earned are all the receipts needed.

In the first two years of the series, Davis scored the SAG Award for her complex and deeply-layered role as law professor Annalise Keating. Her moment truly came in 2015 when she made history as the first woman of color to receive the Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series. Her speech was as glorious as she is.

Since HTGAWM premiered, Davis has also been in films Get on Up, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, and Lila & Eve (with Jennifer Lopez). And, oh wait, I should address that big, shiny thing called an Oscar.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Fresh off of the 2017 Oscars, no one can stop talking about Davis's win (among other things) for her supporting role in Fences. Her acceptance speech, dedicated to the art and beauty of performing, was award-winning in itself. The role, opposite Denzel Washington, also scored her the Golden Globe among a handful of other awards.

This, my friends, is a true artist. And if a few less episodes means being able to watch her in all of her glory on primetime, so be it.