Why Network TV Made Shonda Rhimes Feel Like She Was 'Dying'

Shonda Rhimes at TED Talk (2016)

When it comes to network television empires, names like Ryan Murphy, Greg Berlanti and Kenya Barris come to mind. But you can’t mention any of them without also discussing the TV titan that is Shonda Rhimes. The veteran showrunner and producer has been in the game for a while now and, a few years ago, she took a massive step by leaving her longtime home at ABC and signing a lucrative deal with Netflix. One can imagine the decision couldn’t have been easy but, Rhimes’ recently admitted that she felt she was “dying” by staying on network TV.

Creatives are always striving to provide a diverse slate of content for viewers so, naturally, there’s an urge to try new things. Having been with a network for so long, Shonda Rhimes felt that things were becoming a bit repetitive:

I felt like I was dying. Like I'd been pushing the same ball up the same hill in the exact same way for a really long time.

Rhimes’ time with ABC was one of many topics that she discussed during her in-depth chat with The Hollywood Reporter. Based on the piece, the constraints of network television were becoming a bit too much to bear, leading her to leap into the creatively fluid realm of streaming. Rhimes isn’t the only one to make this move in the last few years, either, as fellow ABC alum Kenya Barris also moved over to Netflix as did former Fox super producer Ryan Murphy.

During her tenure at ABC, Shonda Rhimes created and/or produced a wide range of shows, including Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. At present, the long-running Grey’s and more recent show Station 19 are the only two shows airing on ABC that she’s technically still involved with.

Fans have been waiting anxiously for Rhimes to release new content, something she’s well aware of. It was previously announced that her first release for the streamer would be Inventing Anna, an adaptation of the New York Magazine Article “How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People.” However, it would appear that the project has been delayed a bit and likely won’t arrive until 2021.

But Rhimes’ Shondaland banner will still have some new content for 2020 in the form of a documentary on actor, director, dancer and choreographer Debbie Allen. This year will also see the release of Bridgerton, an adaptation of the Julia Quinn novels that highlight the inner workings of Regency London high society.

Shonda Rhimes may have delivered quality content over the last decade or so, but it looks like the best is yet to come with her upcoming work on Netflix. And if you know anything about the shows she’s produced, there’s sure to be plenty of drama to keep us glued to our screens.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.