Shonda Rhimes is changing the landscape of tv
Chicago home girl Shonda Rhimes’ influence on television over the years has not only brought unique stories to television but has dominated the ratings.
As the mastermind behind the shows comprising ABC’s popular Thursday night line-up (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How To Get Away With Murder” and at one time “Private Practice”), Rhimes is credited with bringing to light diversity to roles that were previously overlooked as well as issues pertaining to women, people of color and the LGBT community.
Her characters for the most part Black, White, Asian, gay etc have for the most part moved seamlessly through their racial relations and are oftentimes written as such that it’s never considered. There have been moments like in the scene in “How To Get Away With Murder” where Annalise takes on a Black man who was falsely accused and sentenced serving time as her client. She presents a soliloquy framing the racist criminal justice system that failed him because of his race and win him his freedom. Or the storyline featuring Cicely Tyson as her mother when we learn that she has changed her name from a very Black sounding name to the she is known as in her world where crimes are committed and gotten away with. Then there’s the most recent episode of “Scandal,” where a young unarmed Black male has been murdered by a White police officer. After discovering that the officer framed the murdered youth by placing a knife under his slain body. Shonda Rhimes has him check Olivia Pope as he admits why he killed the disrespectful dead youth revealing his racist perspective.
After accepting the Ally for Equality award at this year’s Human Rights Campaign Gala in Los Angeles, Rhimes touched on how the path she’s laid out with her shows goes deeper than bringing diversity to the small screen.
“I really hate the word ‘diversity,’ it suggests something…other. As if it is something…special. Or rare,” Rhimes said Saturday at the event, which honored her for her contributions to TV. “As if there is something unusual about telling stories involving women and people of color and LGBTQ characters on TV.”
In finding a different way to describe what she’s doing. Rhimes summed it up with one description.
“I have a different word: NORMALIZING. I’m normalizing TV,” she stated while stating how ‘normalizing’ television plays into a bigger objective, which is, “Making TV look like the world looks.”
“Women, people of color, LGBTQ people equal WAY more than 50% of the population. Which means it ain’t out of the ordinary. I am making the world of television look NORMAL,” Rhimes said.
“The goal is that everyone should get to turn on the TV and see someone who looks like them and loves like them. And just as important, everyone should turn on the TV and see someone who doesn’t look like them and love like them. Because, perhaps then, they will learn from them.”