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When it comes to television shows based on books, anything Shakespeare is an unlikely candidate. Given his body of work, all of the principal characters would be likely to be either dead or married by the end of the first season. Romeo and Juliet in particular has a rather final ending for its main characters, and news that Shonda Rhimes’ production company Shondaland is working on a project based upon the tragedy comes as something of a surprise. After all, Rhimes may have the magic touch when it comes to TV, but Romeo and Juliet only ends one way. As it happens, however, the new ABC project will be based not on the dead teenagers of Romeo and Juliet but rather on the aftermath of their deaths.
The the latest Shondaland project will follow the events of a book, just probably not the one that most of us would associate with Romeo and Juliet. Instead of trying to turn one play that pretty much everybody already knows the ending to into a television series, the production company will be working off of 2013 novel Still Star-Crossed.
Still Star-Crossed was written by Melinda Taub as a young adult novel that follows the conflicts between the Capulets and Montagues after the deaths of young Romeo and Juliet. Taub’s book is an ideal launching point for a television series, working as a sequel to a famous work without needing to set up too much background exposition. Who doesn't know a little bit about the doomed romance of Romeo and Juliet?
The book will be adapted from page to screen thanks to the writing talents of Heather Mitchell, who has worked as writer and producer on Shondaland shows Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy. According to Variety, if the Romeo and Juliet-inspired project is ordered to series by ABC, Mitchell will serve as an executive producer as well as the writer. Shonda Rhimes and frequent Shondaland collaborator Betsy Beers will serve as non-writing producers. The Shondaland team joining up to produce this project, with Shonda Rhimes of the golden television touch herself taking part, promises that the Romeo and Juliet-based story adapted from Melinda Taub's Still Star-Crossed has the potential to be a juggernaut for ABC.
Of course, this Shakespearean-inspired project does represent a departure from Shondaland and Shonda Rhimes’ typical TV fare. Current hit shows Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How To Get Away with Murder are hardly written for the young adult crowd. Although the actual Still Star-Crossed will take place after the events of Romeo and Juliet, the teen love story will almost certainly be a powerful driving force behind the plot. We can only hope that Shonda Rhimes, Shondaland, and Heather Mitchell will prove as capable with this new pseudo-sequel to one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies as they have in the past. Who knows? If this project is ordered to series, we may be in for a McDreamy Montague.