They say art imitates life — but sometimes it’s the opposite.
When the news broke this summer that Jeffrey Epstein had died by suicide only hours after being removed from suicide watch, conspiracy theories immediately sprung up. Would any of Epstein’s powerful friends have the power and motive to orchestrate his death while in jail on charges of sex trafficking of minors?
Fans of How to Get Away With Murder might have had even more reason to wonder. On the fifth season of the series, a major plotline revolved around the death of Nate Lahey Sr. (Glynn Turman). On the show, prison guards claimed Lahey’s death was an act of self-defense on their part, while Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) and her team worked to uncover the truth. Turns out, Lahey’s murder was a frame job orchestrated by the governor and the Castillo family, a secret that was finally revealed in the season finale.
Now, with the show about to kick off its sixth and final season, the writers’ room is back in session — and creator Pete Nowalk says the similarities between the Lahey plot and Epstein conspiracy theories have not escaped his notice. “We’ve definitely talked about Jeffrey Epstein,” he tells EW. “We’ve also talked about it in terms of cover ups and what’s really possible. On our show, we’re saying the governor killed Nate Sr. in order to help her political moves, and it definitely feels like the Epstein thing lends itself to that story, whether that’s true or not.”
But it’s not like Nowalk can see the future. That storyline was actually inspired by the frequency with which crimes of these nature occur. “Prison deaths, prison suicides, prison coverups, that’s what the whole Nate Sr. storyline’s about,” he reflects. “We only did that because we’ve heard from so many people who’ve been in prison, or people who’ve worked with defendants, how common it is.”
Whether or not we’ll ever get any definitive answers about the Epstein case remains to be seen (though even with a conclusive result, conspiracy theories will undoubtedly still spring up). However, Nowalk says the case gives him and his staff a renewed dedication to what they’ve always loved about writing How to Get Away With Murder as they go into their final season.
“What’s lovely about writing the show and being a writer is that you can take things that are so disturbing in real life and the catharsis is to be able to write about them or tell stories about them because the real world is so disturbing,” he concludes.
So, at least on How to Get Away With Murder, we might get to see justice served.
The series returns for its final season Sept. 26 at 10 p.m. on ABC.