Living in Shondaland

Shonda Rhimes, left, with her actresses Kerry Washington, Ellen Pompeo and Viola Davis. (courtesy, ABC)

#ThankGodItsThursday has become a thing on Twitter. After all, “TV’s Savior” Shonda Rhimes has taken over the ABC Network on Thursday nights with Grey’s Anatomy at 8 PM, Scandal at 9, and her newest series, How to Get Away with Murder at 10.

But Rhimes doesn’t just write and produce her shows, she also stays engaged in the social media conversation about them.
After a New York Times article  referred to her as an “angry black woman” and described “How to Get Away with Murder”‘s star Viola Davis as not being “classically beautiful,” Rhimes struck back on Twitter.  She also shut down a viewer who complained that the gay scenes on her shows were “too much.”

Rhimes uses real people in her screenplays and has no regrets displaying real life on TV. She stands up for her creations and strongly believes in all of her work—which is why so many people are obsessed with her shows and have turned Thursday nights into “Shonda Night,” including lots of CCNY students

Ad/PR major Joli Eubanks is all about Shondaland. She’s been watching “Grey’s Anatomy” since she was 12 years old and feels it’s pointless to stop now, especially since it’s just as good as when it started. Her favorite show? Scandal.

“She lets you feel with your heart by giving you real romance and everything behind it where you’re stuck feeling like you’re that character and you’re in love too,” says Eubanks. “At the same time you have to use your brain to figure out what’s going on because these are smart shows.”

Eubanks says she’s been stressed recently because she has to miss Scandal during airtime due to class. “If my teacher lets us out early, I’m running home to catch it,” she says about Thursday nights. “Three hours is a lot of time and I’m busy this semester, but it’s worth it!”

Many fans relate to Rhimes’ fierce defense of her work, her staff and her characters. “I don’t deal with bullshit or nasty people. I don’t have time for it,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. CCNY student Susan Akinyi appreciated Rhimes’ speaking out during the “angry black woman” controversy. “I think people can be ignorant about things they don’t understand and I believe Shonda’s reaction was the best thing,” says Akinyi. “She is true to her craft and didn’t try to change to fit society’s perception but stood by what she believed.”

Another student, Gloria Quinones, likes “How to Get Away with Murder,” but does not watch the show it airs. She lets her mom watch her Spanish soap operas instead and catches the show on Hulu. “I love it because it’s not your ordinary mystery suspense show,” says Quinones. “The way the story unfolds keeps me watching it.”

Damaris Mercado and her daughter, Jennifer, have turned Thursday into mother-daughter night. “Rhimes is in touch with current events and writes about them in a dramatic lens/ slant,” says Damaris Mercado, a teacher. “It’s almost like you are a fly on a wall watching a person(s) drama play out.”

Akinyi feels Rhimes has something in her that separates her from any other TV show runner. “She’s able to take a scripted show and make it realistic,” Akinyi explains. “People cheat, people die, people lose their way in life and I am a fan of the way she displays this in an authentic manner without adding unnecessary frills to it. They also speak to their fans so that the fans feel as though they are a part of the show’s creative process and they have done that perfectly.”

So visit Shondaland every Thursday between 8 and 11pm and tweet the cast and crew during airtime for a more interactive experience. #TGIT.