I think the idea of a "guilty pleasure" TV show is a funny one. It's not that I don't have them myself - actually, I don't really have "guilty" pleasures so much as I have "pleasures that I'm vaguely embarrassed about having but will still expound upon enthusiastically to anyone who will listen." The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, basically anything the CW puts out that stars really attractive people having drama and doing sex.
I've heard a couple of people refer to Shonda Rhimes' shows as guilty pleasures. I can't really speak for any of the other shows she's part of, but I started watching How to Get Away With Murder because it's buzzy and because I'm trying to get out of my supernatural teen soap opera box, and it's really a treat. It's a little campy and melodramatic, but frivolous to the point to guilt? Hardly. If the somewhat random caps in the post title don't make sense, just watch the first episode. Go ahead, I'll wait.
Normally I don't go out of my way to avoid spoilers, but this time I will because the show's just getting started and I really want to encourage people to catch up on it with me.
While diversity alone isn't enough to make a show good, or even interesting, it's definitely a major selling point in this instance. Their lead, Annalise Keating, is played by the very talented Viola Davis. They don't make the fact that she is black, or a woman, the sole defining aspect of her life, but it's something that subtly shades her character in the show. The last five minutes of the most recent episode have made a lot of waves, and for good reason - Annalise slowly strips away the layers of her armor, taking off her jewelry, her wig, her false lashes, her makeup, all while maintaining eye contact with herself in the mirror until her natural state is revealed.
You can read it a lot of different ways in context, but what it comes down to is an African-American woman removing all of the signifiers of assimilation, of whiteness, from her face on a nationally televised show. It's a bold and riveting moment, and it's played completely naturally.
The rest of the cast is just as diverse. There is a great mixture of races, genders, and sexual orientations. Inter-racial relationships are not just present, they're strikingly common, and again, played very naturally. There's more than one scene where the most prominent gay character, Connor, uses his seductive wiles on a chosen target, and holy shit are those scenes hot. How often do you see scenes involving gay men getting physical with each other on network television? How often are those scenes shot with the same sense of forthright titillation as any straight sex scene? Again, what's striking is how naturally all of this treated. It's not gross, or exotic, or other in any way.
Like I said before, it's a bit campy and melodramatic. Everyone's sleeping around and murdering people, and apparently everything about how it portrays law school is laughably inaccurate. There are two parallel timelines that the show follows - one is current day, in which someone (I won't say who) has been murdered, and a group of college students are trying to cover it up; the other one starts about three months ago, and follows a case of the week and the setup for the mystery of what's going on in the current timeline. The cases of the week vary in strength, but so far I'm finding the central mystery pretty involving. Some characters are definitely better developed than others - Annalise, obviously, is the star in more than just name, and Connor is the only character that I think has been given equal weight - but I expect that to improve as the show goes on.
Any fall TV shows that you guys are excited about? I'm also really enjoying Forever, and I'm also really interested in Jane the Virgin, which I've heard very good things about.