Rhimes shocked the TV industry when she signed a multi-year deal with Netflix back in August of 2017. She has created some of the biggest hits in network TV history, including Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder, among many others.
With her four-year contract at ABC now behind her, Rhimes is apparently planning to hit the ground running at Netflix. She has eight shows on the way, and she has only just begun.
The contract puts Rhimes' production company, Shondaland, under the umbrella of Netflix's in-house studio. It now functions as a division of the company, meaning that Rhimes has access to the company's massive resources. On top of that, she is free from the constraints of network TV — including FCC regulations, time parameters and pacing a story around commercial breaks.
When the contract was first signed, Netflix made no secret of how big the acquisition was for the company. Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told Deadline that she would fit in perfectly there.
“Shonda Rhimes is one of the greatest storytellers in the history of television,” he explained. “Her work is gripping, inventive, pulse-pounding, heart-stopping, taboo-breaking television at its best. I’ve gotten the chance to know Shonda and she’s a true Netflixer at heart — she loves TV and films, she cares passionately about her work, and she delivers for her audience. We’re so excited to welcome her to Netflix.”
Rhimes has a well-documented commitment to diversity in media, and Netflix may have offered her more freedom to pursue that vision than network TV could.
“Shondaland’s move to Netflix is the result of a shared plan Ted Sarandos and I built based on my vision for myself as a storyteller and for the evolution of my company,” Rhimes said at the time. “Ted provides a clear, fearless space for creators at Netflix. He understood what I was looking for — the opportunity to build a vibrant new storytelling home for writers with the unique creative freedom and instantaneous global reach provided by Netflix’s singular sense of innovation. The future of Shondaland at Netflix has limitless possibilities.”
The first of those possibilities are finally coming to fruition. Here's a look at what Shonda Rhimes is bringing to Netflix.
First up, Rhimes is developing a project based on Julia Quinn's Bridgerton Family Series of novels. The story follows a powerful family British family in the early 19th century as they try to navigate the aristocracy's "marriage mart." The story has a feminist bent that Rhimes will no doubt accentuate.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the currently untitled show will be executive produced by Chris Van Dusen, who worked with Rhimes on Scandal.
The Warmth of Other Suns is based on a nonfiction book by the same name. Written by Isabel Wilkerson, it picked up a Pulitzer Prize for its description of African-Americans fleeing Jim Crow laws in the south and heading North and West.
The book has reportedly been adapted by Anna Deavere Smith, the playwright who starred in Rhimes' For the People on ABC. Smith will executive produce the series as well.
This is another historical drama series, set in California during the 1840s, when the state was still a part of Mexico. Named after an intersection in Los Angeles, the show will reportedly follow American forces as they storm the border and take the massive territory for themselves.
The show is created and executive produced by Janet Leahy, who has won a number of Writer's Guild of America Awards and picked up several Emmy nominations as well.
Another book adaptation, this series is based on a memoir written by Ellen Pao. It details her high-profile lawsuit against huge employer in Silicon Valley. Many believe that her fight against the status quo shook up the boys' club atmosphere of the industry, and could have even helped spark the #MeToo movement and the Time's Up campaign.
Rhimes could not stay away from political drama for long, as The Residence will reportedly bring her right back into Washington D.C. The show follows White House staff, presidents and first families, and all the drama that their leadership status entails. It is based on a non-fiction book by the same name, written by Kate Anderson Brower.
Jill Alexander is reportedly creating, writing, directing and co-executive producing this dark comedy. It is centered around a group of teenage girls trapped in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The foul-mouthed youths reportedly survive by chance, as they are at sleep away camp when the fallout begins. Afterward, they must utilize their survival skills as scouts to salvage what they can of humanity.
Rhimes is taking on just about every genre TV has to offer, as Hot Chocolate Nutcracker is reportedly a docuseries. The show will follow Debbie Allen, who once executive produced Grey's Anatomy with Rhimes. Now, she is directing a fresh take on the classic ballet, and Rhimes' show captures all the drama that goes into it.
"I wanted the new Shondaland to be a place where we expand the types of stories we tell, where my fellow talented creatives could thrive and make their best work and where we as a team come to the office each day filled with excitement,” Rhimes said in a statement published by The Hollywood Reporter. “Ted [Sarandos] and Cindy [Holland] and everyone at Netflix have been incredible partners in making that happen. This is Shondaland 2.0.”
Finally, Rhimes has already announced that she is taking on an adaptation of Jessica Pressler's article "How Anna Delvey Tricked New York's Party People." Published by New York Magazine, the story follows a con artist who infiltrates the socialite world of New York City.