I have been binge watching the legal drama How to Get Away with Murder on Netflix. In full disclosure (*pun intended), it is not the type of television show that normally appeals to me. I just sort of stumbled upon it and fell down the binge-watching rabbit hole.
If you’re not familiar with the show, it revolves around a clever, yet often unscrupulous, defense attorney/law school professor named Annalise Keating (Viola Davis). Along with her team of ambitious subordinates—most of whom are current or former students—Keating attempts to navigate a web of ethical conundrums.
The show’s ability to blur the lines between right and wrong is what drew me in. Its writers are gifted at crafting situations than compel viewers to sympathize with the characters’ moral dilemmas and question the tolerable depth of loyalty.
How far would you go to conceal someone else’s crime? What if the offender was someone you loved? What if the offender had an understandable reason for committing the crime? What if the offender had dirt on you? Could leverage coerce you into being complicit?
Every episode, despite the shows attempt to convey otherwise, I find myself consumed by the same thought: These characters are not good teammates!
The show tries to portray the characters as being loyal teammates, who are motivated by covering for each other’s transgressions. Annalise and her cohorts keep secrets and commit crimes under the guise of protecting each other from harm. But their motives and actions aren’t that pure.
They are motivated more by self-preservation than by a desire to protect others. When faced with moral crossroads, the characters never exhibit the courage to admit responsibility for their actions or the willingness to accept the consequences. They routinely choose the path of least resistance, regardless of whether that path is right or wrong.
Good teammates are guided by an old military adage: Choose the hard right over the easy wrong.
Choosing the hard right means selecting the option that is morally or ethically correct even if it’s difficult. The easy wrong may provide you with initial relief, but the choice will inevitably lead to negative consequences. Whereas the hard right might initially involve unpleasant consequences, the choice will lead to inner peace.
Teammates who choose the hard right aren’t ashamed of the face staring back at them in the mirror. They are free to function with an unburdened spirit. Teams comprised of clear-conscious teammates can overcome setbacks and focus on moving forward. The baggage of their past doesn’t hold them back.
The storylines in How to Get Away with Murder ask viewers to accept the complexity of the characters’ dilemmas. But their dilemmas aren’t nearly as complex as they seem. The characters compound their problems by not applying the simple logic of choosing the hard right over the easy wrong.
How you respond to situations that test your integrity defines you as a teammate. Good teammates practice mea culpa (i.e. they acknowledge the fault in their actions) and always choose the hard right over the easy wrong.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.