On Thursday night if you tune your television to ABC you will take a trip to a place many refer to as Shondaland. TGIT, or Thank God It is Thursday as the network is branding the night, is the home of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder, 3 scintillating shows with executive producer Shonda Rhimes in common.
Now in it’s eleventh season on the air, Grey’s Anatomy is an anchor for the night. The relationship between Derek Sheppard and Meredith Grey has long been the central focus of the ensemble show which follows a complex group of characters through their daily lives in a Seattle hospital. For those who like serial shows with slightly soapy plots, this is your show! If you want to be able to drop in and out of a show however, nothing in Shondaland is likely to be for you.
The hallmark of a Shondaland show tends to be story arcs and plots that are woven together over the course of weeks, sometimes seasons, with twists and turns that simultaneously feel as though they came out of no where and yet, when you look back there is this nagging feeling that the writers played fair. Bread crumbs were laid, hints dropped and the gut feeling exists that if only you had been paying a little more attention you just might have seen it coming. That the shock that had you going “what just happened!” should not have been a shock.
Scandal follows the intrigues of a President in office (Fitz) and his Washington, D.C. fixer (Olivia). Both Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal are loosely inspired by real people. That is to say that it has come to light that a real problem solver for a President was spoken to before Scandal went on the air, no such behind the scenes relationships existed etc, but from a kernel of truth, and the knowledge that a real job existed — a lot of curiosity about all the potential that existed a that whole world of possibilities — intrigue and Scandals was created.
Currently in its fourth season, Scandal was a mid-season replacement when it first hit the air in April of 2012. A fact that the show used to its advantage to hook early viewers — because it enabled the show to start with a powerful 7 episode arc that contained individually satisfying episodes, but at the end of those 7 episodes it felt as though viewers had reached the end of a novel they could not wait to get their hands on the sequel to… and guess what, the seasons have just kept coming.
How To Get Away With Murder is this years addition to prime-time television from Shonda Rhimes and co. Another brain-teasing show with trailers that sizzle off the screen, it is about a law professor who is also a practicing lawyer, who chooses several top students to intern in her law firm for some rare hands on experience, and by the looks of it, a year that will change all of their lives. While the title is officially taken from the lead characters nickname for the class she is teaching, one might suspect it has some more practical applications to at least one subplot… or maybe I have just learned a thing or two from watching other Shondaland land shows over the past decade.
Someone recently told me that they had tried Scandal after hearing praise of the plot twists, but the dialogue did not feel like everyday conversation, the situations did not feel like something they could easily relate to, and as a result, they did not easily slip into the shows universe. The only response I could give was, ‘go back, marathon those first 7 episodes, and view it not as the real world, but as something set apart, knowing it isn’t meant to be your real world. Try and anticipate the twists, try and figure out where it is going, embrace the challenge, enjoy the cunning of the writers in Shondaland, and marvel at their skill in plotting and surprising their viewers.’ I for one would not want to live in the realm of Grey’s Anatomy or Scandal. I have not seen enough of How To Get Away With Murder to make a decision there… but if what I’ve seen of other Shondaland shows holds true, I can already hazard a guess.
These are shows I watch to appreciate the world I live in. Pay Shondaland a visit, then come back to the real world, take a nice deep breath, relax, and be grateful that is not reality.
“Grey’s Anatomy” stars Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey, Patrick Dempsey as Derek Shepherd, Justin Chambers as Alex Karev, Chandra Wilson as Miranda Bailey, James Pickens, Jr. as Richard Webber, Sara Ramirez as Callie Torres, Kevin McKidd as Owen Hunt, Jessica Capshaw as Arizona Robbins, Jesse Williams as Jackson Avery, Sarah Drew as April Kepner, Camilla Luddington as Jo Wilson, Jerrika Hinton as Stephanie Edwards and Caterina Scorsone as Amelia Shepherd.
Twitter @GreysABC, #GreysAnatomy
“Scandal” stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, Guillermo Diaz as Huck, Darby Stanchfield as Abby Whelan, Katie Lowes as Quinn Perkins, Tony Goldwyn as President Fitzgerald Grant, Jeff Perry as Cyrus Beene, Bellamy Young as Mellie Grant, Joshua Malina as David Rosen and Scott Foley as Jacob “Jake” Ballard.
Official Hashtag: #Scandal
“How to Get Away with Murder” stars Academy-Award Nominee Viola Davis as Professor Annalise Keating, Billy Brown as Detective Nate Lahey, Alfred Enoch as Wes Gibbins, Jack Falahee as Connor Walsh, Katie Findlay as Rebecca Sutter, Aja Naomi King as Michaela Pratt, Matt McGorry as Asher Millstone, Karla Souza as Laurel Castillo, Charlie Weber as Frank Delfino and Liza Weil as Bonnie Winterbottom.