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Biddle Plus: How to Get Away with Murder

November 12, 2014

In an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Penn students called ABC’s series How to Get Away With Murder “over-the-top and sometimes unrealistic.” Biddle takes a look at the new series, and some of the other legal dramas available from the video collection. 

How to Get Away With Murder premiered earlier this fall on ABC. Created by Peter Nowalk and produced by Shonda Rhimes, the show stars Viola Davis as professor Annalise Keating, a criminal law professor who is also a defense attorney.  She involves her first-year students in researching her murder cases as part of their class work.

This is not the first time law school is the setting for a television show. The Paper Chase, based on the well-known movie, debuted on CBS in 1978. It was cancelled after one year, but later brought back by Showtime.

ABC sought an Ivy League campus as its setting, and Penn was its first choice, although the university turned down the offer to film on campus, to “avoid disturbing campus life.” Philadelphia shows up in numerous scenes: a replica of City Hall, West Philadelphia houses, and scenes at Keating’s office/home were shot in a West Philly residence near campus –but most of the series is shot on sets in Los Angeles. 

In a Philadelphia Inquirer article, Penn students called the show, “over-the-top and sometimes unrealistic.” We at Biddle don’t want to speak to the murderous intent of our students, but we do have one comment regarding whether or not the series is realistic: Why is no one ever studying in the library?!

Biddle has a number of videos and DVDs of TV shows and movies related to law and law school. Some examples:

Law and Order

The Paper Chase

Legally Blonde

The library also has several resources related to the law on screen. Come check them out!