As a woman who hopes to make her career in the entertainment industry, I think there is no one I idolize, respect, and admire more than Shonda Rhimes. In case you are a strange soul who has not watched primetime television in the past ten years, Shonda Rhimes is the woman who created and runs ShondaLand, the company behind shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice,” “Scandal,” and, as of yesterday, “How to Get Away with Murder.” Starting this week, with “Grey’s” at 8 p.m., “Scandal” at 9 p.m., and “Murder” at 10 p.m., Shondaland dominates the entire Thursday night primetime block on ABC. This is an incredible accomplishment for any writer/producer, but particularly remarkable considering the fact that Rhimes is the first African-American woman to achieve such an impossible feat.
However, I do not cherish Rhimes simply because of her Thursday night domination. Rather, I am eternally grateful to her for bringing characters and stories into my life to which I can connect on a deep emotional level. Whether it is comedy or drama, for me, a good television show is filled with great characters who all truly love each other. Well, there is no one who knows how to create many complex, interesting, “dark and twisty” characters who have messy, emotional, romantic, and professional lives like Rhimes does. And, through all of the trauma and heartache, at the end of the day, they all sincerely care about each other. All of her shows feature large, diverse ensemble casts and are headed by female leading characters. While all of the shows contain several passionate and sexy romantic relationships, the true genius of her shows is the way that, in the end, it is the friendships that are the most significant and powerful.
Now, unfortunately, this paper had to go to print before I could watch last night’s season premieres of “Grey’s” and “Scandal” and the series premiere of “Murder.” So, in lieu of recapping those (I’m sure) amazing episodes, I will instead remind us of where we left off last season, and what we know about what is to come. Warning, if you have never watched either “Grey’s” or “Scandal,” MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
Despite the fact that the show is in its eleventh season, the upcoming season of “Grey’s Anatomy” is bound to be utterly different from anything we still-devoted fans have seen before, for one crucial reason: It will lack Dr. Cristina Yang. In the Season 10 finale, Yang finally leaves for Zürich, but not before having one final dance party with her “person,” Dr. Meredith Grey. Meredith needs to dance it out because in addition to her best friend moving around the world, she is fighting with her husband: He wants to take a job in Washington, D.C., but she does not want to move. This prompts Yang’s last words to Mer: “Don’t let what he wants eclipse what you need. He’s very dreamy, but he’s not the sun; you are.” I sobbed so hard that my best friend, an extreme fan herself, was genuinely concerned about the extent to which I get emotionally attached to fictional characters. Honestly, I’m crying just writing about it. Although I have spent all summer preparing myself for the fact that Yang will no longer be in Seattle, I doubt I’ll ever fully be prepared for her absence.
In addition to Yang leaving, we found out that April and Jackson are expecting a baby, Dr. Bailey and Alex are going to be on the board of the hospital, Meredith has a half-sister who works at the hospital, and Amelia, Derek’s little neurosurgeon sister, is sticking around. And, of course, the fate of favorite couple Callie and Arizona is still up in the air. Even without Dr. Cristina Yang, there is still a wonderful handful of Seattle doctors to love and learn from.
Over in Washington, D.C., at the end of the season, the world of “Scandal” is left without its central figure: Olivia Pope. In the final moments, she and Jake board a private plane to an undisclosed destination. Fitz and Mellie have just won a second term but tragically lose their only son, who incidentally was killed by Olivia’s father. Huck and Quinn, or “Huckleberry Quinn,” as fans have deemed them, are in a tough position. Quinn informs Huck that the family he left behind is still alive and we are left not knowing what is to come for him. Also, Harrison is dead, so we will have to see how the members of Olivia Pope and Associates process his loss. Word on the street is that season four will be the Abby season. All I hope for is more drunk Mellie, and an answer to the question, “Where in the world is Olivia Pope?”
As for the new series, “How to Get Away with Murder,” we can expect to enter the world of a law professor, her firm, and a handful of her students. That law professor happens to be played by Academy Award nominee Viola Davis. The ensemble cast also features Liza Weil, who played Paris on “Gilmore Girls,” and Matt McGorry, who plays resident “Orange is the New Black” C.O. hottie Bennett. I can’t wait to become obsessed with yet another group of twisted, smart, and extremely good-looking people.
Overall, I am sure that this season of ShondaLand will live up to its logo, which is a roller coaster surrounding a heart. It will be filled with dynamic and sometimes scary twists and turns, but in the end, genuine love is left at the core.