‘How to Get Away With Murder’ Creator on the Importance of the Incest Storyline

The How to Get Away with Murder series finale has officially come and gone and there are lots of feelings to unpack. The dramatic series ended just as it had begun, with surprising twists and turns and some truly traumatic moments. But, one of the most shocking and disturbing twists of the season actually came prior to the series finale, with the introduction of the Keating incest storyline.

[Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers from the How to Get Away with Murder series finale.]

How to Get Away with Murder series finale cast
How to Get Away with Murder cast | Christopher Polk/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Long-time fans of How to Get Away with Murder were always suspicious of Hannah Keating, Annalise’s sister-in-law. She seemed unnaturally invested in her brother’s relationship and her suspicions and hatred of Annalise seemed to stretch back before Sam’s murder. In a recent interview with Deadline, Pete Nowalk, the show’s creator, shared that he always planned a sinister background for the Keating siblings.

The incest storyline was planned long before the series finale

“Since the beginning of the show when we introduced Hannah’s character, I always felt like there was something twisted that happened in that house before Annalise ever lived there. Even to the point that Annalise mentions to Hannah in that first season that she suspects that Hannah has an interest in Annalise,” the How to Get Away With Murder creator shared in a conversation about the series finale.

The legacy of ‘How to Get Away with Murder’

Nowalk admitted that the incest storyline on How to Get Away with Murder was not intended for shock value, but to highlight the abuse that people can and do suffer from. “To take it to a bit of a downer, incest is not a soap opera device that we were intending to do. It can feel like that a lot of times but sexual abuse in the home is way more common than we even think,” Nowalk stated.

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The creator than launched into the legacy of How to Get Away with Murder and why it was important to keep telling difficult stories right up until the series finale. “So much of our show has been trying to shine a light on the reality of abuse and the reality of what survivors have to do to overcome that. So this seemed to fit in thematically with so many of the stories we were telling,’ Nowalk explained.

Shining the light on abuse

How to Get Away with Murder certainly does have a history of telling stories of abuse in the home. In the series finale, we finally learn more about the abuse Michaela suffered in her childhood. Furthermore, the Keating siblings aren’t even the first example of incest abuse we see on the show. Thanks to Bonnie’s backstory, we know the terrible abuse she suffered at the hands of her father. Furthermore, we know that Annalise also suffered abuse at the hands of her uncle.

Even though the incest storyline was always in the realm of possibility for the How to Get Away with Murder writers, having Frank be the child of the Keating siblings answered many questions and tied up some loose ends. “It wasn’t always the case that Frank was going to be their son but what I loved about it is it really made sense of so many things in the show for me,” Nowalk confessed.

Frank answered some important questions

Nowalk continued on to pose some of the characters’ actions that now made sense thanks to Frank being the Keatings’ child. “For example, why does Sam allow Frank to stick around after he knew that he had been responsible for the baby’s death? Why was Sam so involved in Frank’s life? Why was he so concerned about Bonnie’s relationship with Frank? It all just made sense to me once we knew that that was his son,” the How to Get Away with Murder creator revealed.

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While the Frank storyline definitely tied up lots of loose ends, it had tremendous consequences for all parties involved. If nothing else, the How to Get Away with Murder series finale showed us just how devastating dark secrets can be, especially when they are unearthed. We will certainly miss this bold show and can’t wait to see what’s next for the talented cast and crew.