HTGAWM Goes for Sex Positivity in “It’s Called the Octopus”
BY The Screen Spy Team
Published 8 years ago
By Chelsea A. Hensley
Shondaland’s first production Grey’s Anatomy premiered in 2005, and its pilot had Meredith Grey waking up from one-night stand with one of her bosses before kicking him out so she could head to work. Though Grey’s may have dialed back on some of its sex scenes, it hasn’t neglected them. Last night’s episode saw new addition Maggie Pierce lamenting her lack of sex and taking home one of the new interns as a temporary fix. Scandal’s arrival in 2012 went even further than Grey’s, producing some of the steamiest sex scenes to be allowed on network television, and even if there’s much debate surrounding the relationship between Olivia Pope and Fitz Grant, no one can deny the excellent sex they’re having. Now we have How To Get Away With Murder. In its first episode Wes walked in on Annalise receiving oral sex from Nate, and just last week Annalise and Eve were giggling over the great sex they had and going for an encore.
Shonda Rhimes has gone on record announcing her hopes that her shows are encouraging a more positive outlook on sex because “there are ways to represent women owning their sexuality and having a strong point of view about it and it not being this taboo thing that’s hidden in some closet somewhere." But showing sex as lighthearted and natural is a risk, and before Shonda Rhimes became Shonda Rhimes network execs blanched at Meredith Grey’s casual sex, concerned that it was unrealistic and “nobody wanted to know” a woman like her. And it wasn’t so long ago that independent film Blue Valentine got slapped with an NC-17 rating, which would have kept it out of most theaters, for a scene in which Ryan Gosling simulates oral sex on Michelle Williams. The risk in showing sex onscreen lies not only in the clash of scantily clad bodies and creative camera angles but also in sex being natural and, for lots of people, fun. “It’s Called the Octopus” does what Shondaland’s been doing for quite a while now: proving sex is a good time.
The past two episodes have been mostly Annalise centered, but “Octopus” for the first time makes it feel like an ensemble. For an episode that’s so sexy, its most important, mystery-fueling moments don’t involve sex at all. Annalise opens the episode contemplating her case, her hair wrapped for the night and drunkenly collapses in bed before being woken by strange noises. Said noises appear to be an entrapped mouse, and Wes arrives to hammer it to death. But the noises are actually Asher, breaking in to steal Annalise’s recordings. Blackmailed by Sinclair with something involving a Tiffany at Trotter Lake, Asher blows up his relationship with Bonnie to avoid her questions.
Seven weeks in the future, Nate calls Annalise looking to ensure her safety, but she’s dying on the floor of the Hapstall mansion while her students flee the scene. It’s no clearer how she got there, only murkier. Obvious suspects include the Keating Five, particularly Wes. When he learns that Levi (who ignores Wes’ edict to stay away from Michaela in favor of spelling the alphabet on her nether regions) is Rebecca’s foster brother and is looking for answers, he teams up with Nate to figure out what Annalise is hiding. Though Wes comes through in disposing of that mouse, there’s a wealth of secrets building up between them, and Annalise hiding Rebecca’s murder could be just enough to turn Wes against her.
There’s no shortage of people who may want to murder Annalise. Sinclair, though she ends up dead herself, has a serious vendetta against her. Bonnie and Frank have yet to be seen in the future, and we know them both to have a slippery sense of morality. And Annalise isn’t winning a lot of fans with her methods. She wins her case by implicating the innocent, grieving wife, and when Tanya demands to know how Annalise can sleep at night, Annalise replies: “Alone, on very comfortable sheets.” The same sheets Eve professes to miss in a cute email and the same sheets that Annalise has spent many a night rolling around on with another someone.