New York Times writer Alessandra Stanley delivered a less than favorable review of ABC’s new drama, “How To Get Away With Murder,” starring Viola Davis in her essay titled, “Wrought In Their Creator’s Image.” From the looks of her piece, Stanley, who referred to the show’s Executive Producer Shonda Rhimes as a “romance writer,” feels that Rhimes continues to project her “angry Black woman” qualities onto her characters.
“When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman,” Stanley writes. “On Thursday, Ms. Rhimes will introduce ‘How to Get Away With Murder,’ yet another network series from her production company to showcase a powerful, intimidating Black woman. This one is Annalise Keating, a fearsome criminal defense lawyer and law professor played by Viola Davis. And that clinches it: Ms. Rhimes, who wrought Olivia Pope on “Scandal” and Dr. Miranda Bailey on ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ has done more to reset the image of African-American women on television than anyone since Oprah Winfrey.
Ms. Rhimes didn’t just construct a series around one African-American woman. She has also introduced a set of heroines who flout ingrained television conventions and preconceived notions about the depiction of diversity.
Her women are authority figures with sharp minds and potent libidos who are respected, even haughty members of the ruling elite, not maids or nurses or office workers. Be it Kerry Washington on ‘Scandal’ or Chandra Wilson on ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ they can and do get angry. One of the more volcanic meltdowns in soap opera history was Olivia’s ‘Earn me’ rant on ‘Scandal.’
Ms. Rhimes has embraced the trite but persistent caricature of the Angry Black Woman, recast it in her own image and made it enviable. She has almost single-handedly trampled a taboo even Michelle Obama couldn’t break.”
Her critique continues:
“And what is most admirable about Ms. Rhimes’s achievement is that in a business that is still run by note-giving, nit-picking, compromise-seeking network executives, her work is mercifully free of uplifting role models, parables and moral teachings.”
She went on to peg “How To Get Away With Murder” heroine Annalise Keating as one of the worst of the trio.
“In ‘How to Get Away With Murder,’ Annalise is even worse: She terrifies law students and cheats on her husband. (She also betrays her lover.)”
Before long, Rhimes caught wind of Stanley’s critique of her and decided to respond on Twitter this morning. She even invited How To Get Away With Murder’s actual creator and writer, Pete Nowalk, to join in on the fun.