There is a famous anecdote about The Big Sleep, referenced in Creatures of Darkness: Raymond Chandler, Detective Fiction, and Film Noir by Gene D. Philips. During the shooting of the film, when someone asked who killed Owen Taylor, a minor character whose car ended up in a river, nobody could answer the question, including the director, Howard Hawks, the writers, William Faulkner and Leigh Brackett, and even the author of the original novel, Raymond Chandler.
That story highlights the main characteristic of the noir genre: its narrative complexity, derived from the absence of a linear story line. Although How To Get Away With Murder is not so much oblique as The Big Sleep, its intricate plot generates so much confusion in the audience that even regular viewers often cannot recall crucial past events of the story. It is common to find threads on Reddit where fans summarize past events of the series and generate “orienting paratexts” in order to clarify the plot. Even though the series mixes the noir genre with elements of the soap opera, such as a density of characters and relationships, there is a total lack of intraepisodic redundancy or repetition of information. In the soap opera genre, the narration is always trying to orient the audience by means of dialogue. In contrast, HTGAWM’s dialogue is laconic, typically ambiguous and contributes to disorientation acting as a vehicle for making false statements or distorting reality.
Ultimately, the labyrinthine structure of a season of HTGAWM, with constant contradictoriness and an endless succession of unpredictable twists, deconstructs the very concept of plot. As a consequence, understanding the story seems meaningless; the series defies logic in order to make the audience experience the uncontrollable chaos of a society in crisis in which a crime is always followed by another crime. In that context, the very concept of truth is a chimera. Everything seems a bewildering tangle of data in which present prevails over serial memory.