Shonda Rhimes & The Border Between Real and Outrageous

If you don’t know who Shonda Rhimes is, she’s the creator of Greys Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder, along with multiple other contributions to shows and movies such as Private Practice and The Princess Diaries 2. Between her biggest three shows that I mentioned first, she has written and produced over 20 seasons of television, and all three shows are wildly popular. On Rotten Tomatoes, Scandal has a 95%, How to Get Away with Murder has a 90%, and Greys Anatomy has a 71%. Ignore the fact that Greys Anatomy has a 71% because it has been inarguably one of the most dominant shows of its time in terms of popularity and duration of time on the air, and there is no denying that Shonda’s work is something of a genius.

I used to watch Greys Anatomy with my parents as a kid, and I currently watch Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder, so I can personally attest to the fact that Shonda is a mastermind of the industry, but what I always find myself wondering is how in the world she has been able to create so many seasons of content for these shows. Especially in regards to Greys Anatomy which is in it’s 13th season, I just do not understand how somebody can not only write that much content, but write content that is that good that the show can continue to be renewed season after season. When you think about it, after 13 seasons and 280 episodes, the ideas for new episodes have got to be limited, and the ability to continue the storyline has to become more and more difficult. Eventually, to be able to create new ideas, there have to be boundaries pushed. For example, in Greys Anatomy you will see episodes where patients have ridiculous and un-heard of injuries or ways in which they were injured, and these things become the focus for an entire episode. After 13 seasons, the viewer witnesses nearly every possible scenario that could be played out in a hospital, so Shonda has to find some new way to keep the story going.

I think that to do this in all of her shows, Shonda pushes boundaries at times by veering off the realistic storyline and putting in something that may be unrealistic or unlikely. While unrealistic things in a storyline are something that I personally hate in my television shows, Shonda does a good job of not making things too unrealistic, but doing so just enough to keep the storyline fresh, exciting, and in motion, and its simply unreal that she’s been able to create this much content for one show in Greys Anatomy, and then go on to do it in 10 more seasons of two other hit shows at the same time. Shonda just had yet another show get it’s pilot picked up recently as ABC picked up the pilot to another show she wrote for 2017. If you want to read about that, click here

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3 Responses to Shonda Rhimes & The Border Between Real and Outrageous

  1. mediaphiles says:

    Far too often, in my opinion, I think the creative minds (whether they be writers, producers, etc) behind hit TV series are overlooked. When we think about the auteur theory, which I know we haven’t explored a ton yet in this class, I think film is the first thing that comes to mind. Slowly, we are beginning to recognize the creative geniuses and unbelievably inspired individuals who are working in television, like Rhimes—who is just beginning to get the “star” power she deserves .

    – Lydia Geisel

  2. mediaphiles says:

    Shonda Rhimes is amazing! I wish she would be our commencement speaker, seriously. Her book “Year of Yes” is so inspiring, especially if you appreciate her work and enjoy her shows. At one point in her memoir, she says writing for television is like laying track for an approaching train. Each week she cranks out another script, and if she’s late, she slows the entire production process. This is such a cool imagery and really puts screenwriting into perspective. -Caitlin Herlihy

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I think Shonda Rhimes is great.The only shows I watch are How to Get Away with Murder and have watched some Grey’s Anatomy. I think she pushes the limits on several topics but she opens many windows. In How To Get Away With Murder she presents us a interracial couple with the male being white and the women being black we don’t see that often on T.V. we also see a gay couple and it actually allows you to see their interaction another thing that is also very rare. Yes she pushes the social borders to far at times,but I think that’s why she is so successful because she keeps the viewers on the edge thinking she is going to go to far and she stops keeping you on the edge of your seat.
    – Dez Wortham

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