‘How To Get Away With Murder’ And The Issue Of PrEP

‘How To Get Away With Murder’ And The Issue Of PrEP

Last season, ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder left its fans reeling when it was revealed that Connor’s on-again, off-again boyfriend Oliver was diagnosed with HIV. It was the twist that many fans didn’t see coming, since Connor was the ultimate bad boy while nerdy-cute Oliver was the commitment type. It was shocking. It was refreshing. And it was the first time in a long time that the topic of HIV has been discussed on primetime television.

Some thought that the good boy/bad boy switch up was as cliché as an after school special. In an article for Buzzfeed, journalist Louis Peitzman said the “HIV storyline was a step back for the usually progressive ‘How To Get Away With Murder,” whereas many others (including HIV awareness advocates) praised the show’s openly gay creator Pete Nowalk and producer Shonda Rhimes for introducing content that has been sorely missed by today’s youth culture. (Plus even ran an interview with Conrad Ricamora, who plays Oliver, asking “Is Television Finally Ready for HIV-Positive Characters?”)

So fans and critics alike tuned in for Thursday night’s premiere to see what lies ahead for Connor and Oliver. As the storyline played out, the social media was set ablaze. It seemed the discussion of PrEP had officially gone mainstream.

The season opener, written by Nowalk, had skirted the after-school vibe of HIV messaging, and instead it showed Connor and Oliver moving forward with their relationship. Jack Falahee’s Connor, who was profoundly underdeveloped in the first season as the slutty, shameless gay character, shows depth and feeling in his interactions with Oliver. The two discuss sex and HIV in a way that many, if not most of HTGAWM’s audience surely have never seen before.

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, an opinion writer for AVClub, had this to say:

“Oliver and Connor continue to be adorable together, and their discussions here about HIV and PrEP feel a lot more real and nuanced than in the first season. This episode really isn’t playing around when it comes to smart writing about topics not typically brought up on network television.”

Many AIDS service organizations and PrEP activists chimed in to champion this bold move by the TV series.prep

Eric McCulley, a PrEP advocate and moderator of the popular Facebook group, PrEP Facts, championed the episode. “To my knowledge, it’s the first time PrEP has ever been seriously mentioned on network primetime television. That’s a big megaphone for a serious sexual health topic.”

The topic of PrEP and the presence of an HIV-positive character were most recently seen on HBO’s Looking, but the TV show was recently cancelled after the second season.

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  1. Dennis Macaulay
    September 28, 06:14 Reply

    Biko Francis is truvada available in Nigeria? Because I still haven’t seen it.

  2. Mandy
    September 28, 06:16 Reply

    The reason I’m increasingly loving HTGAWM is its unflinching ability to take on contemporary issues. There was that time when Annalise’s mother came on the show and they handled the delicate issue of gender stereotypes. Now Prep. Connor and Oliver’s relationship just keeps getting interetsing-er and interesting-er

  3. Max
    September 28, 07:16 Reply

    I’m loving their relationship. ???. And I think Oliver is hot btw..
    The ending of episode 1 sha… Huge cliffhanger.

    • Pink Panther
      September 28, 07:18 Reply

      That one has become the origin of the future flash forwards and flashbacks I’m sure we’re to expect in subsequent episodes.

    • Mandy
      September 28, 07:19 Reply

      If its the story of two committed men in a relationship, of course Max would love it. lol. Turn Connor into a hoe-bag now, and Max won’t love ’em so much. 😀 #Okbye

  4. Bade
    September 28, 07:29 Reply

    I don’t understand what shonda is doing with voila?? Why make her gay??

    • Dennis Macaulay
      September 28, 08:27 Reply

      Annalise is a very complex character, it did not surprise me one bit when I learnt she was in a same sex relationship.

      • Django
        September 28, 09:23 Reply

        The moment I heard something like “…when you left me for your therapist…”, my head was literally spinning and I went “this Annalise woman is full of surprises mehn!!!”

        I swear, I would watch whatever Shonda Rhimes gives me, anything at all, as long as it’s coming from #shondaland.

    • pete
      September 28, 08:38 Reply

      Making her bi, you mean

    • Deola
      September 28, 09:28 Reply

      Sigh. Shonda Rhimes isn’t doing anything with Viola. Peter Nowalk is. He is the creator and Writer of the show. I really wish more people knew that and gave him the credit he so deserves.

  5. Chizzie
    September 28, 10:15 Reply

    Can one get PrEP here?.. I do miss the feel of a man’s unlatexed penis inside me and the gush of his fluids into me… *struggles not to touch self*

  6. Ruby
    September 28, 10:58 Reply

    Finally something important is being brought to the fore

  7. Silver Cat
    September 28, 22:23 Reply

    How come nobody is talking about the Family-Denial Issue that played out in Grey’s Anatomy and how Callie dished it out steaming hot to that homophobic mother? It’s still TGIT courtesy of S. Rhimes.

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