Shots fired! Well, not really. Netflix has signed Shonda Rhimes. For those of you who don’t know, Shonda Rhimes’ production company Shondaland has been owned by ABC until recently. And for those of you who don’t know, ABC is owned by Disney. Hence the “shots fired” remark. Could this be in retaliation over the fact that Disney recently decided to leave Netflix? Or is this all in the name of business? It seems kind of fast for it to be retaliation, but this is Hollywood we’re talking about so anything is possible. Shonda will still continue to work with shows like Grey’s Anatomy, but sh’es kind of excited to not have to worry about network television.
In a statement made to the Wall Street Journal, Shonda explains “I’m thrilled by the idea of a world where I’m not caught in the necessary grind of network television”. And can you blame her? While I am not an expert on what it would be like to work on a show, I would imagine that the networks aren’t as liberal as Netflix. I mean, think of some of the popular Netflix shows and think about how gritty they can be. Orange is the New Black, or Narcos or even House of Cards. All with some risque or taboo scenes that you aren’t likely to see on network television. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that I think they’re risque. But I can see a network thinking that.
Shonda’s goal is to use this opportunity to work on the stories themselves. David E. Kelley, producer of Netflix’s Big Little Lies has complained about the stress of a 18-24 episode network season. Kelley says “at this point in my career, I love the limited series format. I have no interest in doing 100 episodes of anything”. And perhaps Shonda agrees. But from a consumer perspective, I wonder if that is really good? With some of the Netflix series, you still get maybe 12 episodes a season. And maybe OITNB won’t last 8 or 9 seasons, but I think it’s creeping up there. Perhaps Kelley just means that you don’t HAVE to have that many episodes in a series.
With the recent departure of Disney, Netflix is having to figure out what to do to fill the gap. Studios have been gradually limiting their movies on Netflix, so it seems like the remedy for this is to develop it’s own original content. Take Jessica Jones for example. This is a recent TV show that was developed by Netflix, and one that has also been extremely successful for them.
Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, describes Shonda as “one of the greatest storytellers in the history of television”. And she kind of is. For the last several years, many of her shows have been plastered all over the place. From news, to media speculation to spoilers on the show it self, you couldn’t make a move without seeing one. And this is all incredible news for Netflix. I’m extremely curious to see what they have planned. Or rather, what she has planned in terms of her next show. I don’t believe this was a malicious move on Netflix’s part. I suspect this has been in the works for awhile now. Shonda has indicated that it’s not about money, but rather about wanting the ability to be creative. So it seems like Netflix will be a good home for her.