The Ordered Greatness of Shonda Rhimes' Television Shows

Shonda Rhimes at the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party

Photography by Jon Kopaloff/WireImage

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Shonda Rhimes, 52, a legend in the world of television production, has had a fantastic year, which is nothing new. Since Grey's Anatomy's 2005 debut on ABC, she has had a lot of success. The show is now in its 18th season, making it the longest-running prime-time medical drama in television history. Rhimes' Emmy-winning period drama Bridgerton returns for its highly anticipated second season this month, following the premiere of its first season in February. But where does that triumvirate of programs stand in comparison to her other work? Here is our list, from the worst of the worst to the greatest of the greatest.

What would be left if Grey's Anatomy didn't feature any grey characters? This short-lived series follows a group of idealistic doctors as they run a low-budget clinic in the jungles of some unnamed South American country, replacing the wet Seattle backdrop of Rhimes' biggest hit. Future Grey's Anatomy stars Martin Henderson and Jason Winston George (50), as well as Friday Night Lights' Zach Gilford and Meryl Streep's daughter Mamie Gummer, were among the cast. Things like zip lines breaking, helicopters crashing, tropical parasites, and even a giant anaconda could go wrong.

To top it all off, the island of Oahu serves as a stand-in for the Amazon, creating a verdant environment unlike any other.  

Check out Off the Map on YouTube and ABC.

This ambitious Shakespearean continuation picks up after Romeo and Juliet have been killed, when the city of Verona is rocked by riots between the feuding Capulets and Montagues. A series of feuds, fights, and mysteries involving a secret society called The Fiend begin when Prince Escalus (Sterling Sulieman) orders Rosaline (Lashana Lynch) to marry Romeo's cousin Benvolio (Wade Briggs) to make peace. Many critics panned the show, calling it a lavish but emotionless melodrama, and the network ultimately decided to cancel it after only seven episodes.

Lynch's star power was undeniable regardless of the quality of the script, and she went on to portray Maria Rambeau in Captain Marvel and Nomi (the first female 007) in the most recent James Bond film, No Time to Die.

Still Star-Crossed is streaming on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and YouTube right now.

Mireille Enos (The Killing) plays L in this slick cat-and-mouse thriller. A PI Alice Vaughan has a shocking revelation in the pilot: her fiancé Benjamin Jones (Peter Krause, 56, Six Feet Under), whom she thought she loved, is actually a global con artist who vanishes after stealing her heart and her clients' money. As Alice and her P I The group's goal was to expose his true identity. Though it had some cool Catch Me if You Can vibes and Alice wore some killer '60s-inspired outfits, the show never quite lived up to its potential over its two seasons.

Rose Rollins, as Alice's business partner Valerie, stole the show with her endearing charisma.

You can catch The Catch on Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and more!

In this fast-paced legal drama, we follow six recently-minted attorneys (three public defenders and three prosecutors) as they begin their careers in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York. Regé-Jean Page, a future star of Bridgerton, is among the newcomers who will keep you entertained, but the four veteran character actors who play the grownups in the room—the legal equivalents of Grey's Anatomy's "mature" residents—are the real highlights. Ben Shenkman (53) as U.S. Department of Justice criminal division chief Roger Gunn, and Anna Deavere Smith (71) as Tina Krissman, court clerk S prosecutor's workplace, Vondie Curtis-Hall (71), as Judge Nicholas Byrne;   

The best part is that it avoids the soap opera tropes in favor of a more issue-based, procedural approach that fans of Law & Order will enjoy.  

For the People is available on Amazon Prime and Hulu.

After achieving massive ratings success with its Chicago franchise (Fire, Chicago Hope, etc.) created by Dick Wolf, NBC decided to try something new. D After the success of Grey's Anatomy (and Med), ABC decided to create a second spin-off based on the medical drama, this time focusing on the heroic Seattle Fire Department. We begin the new show with Dr. Married to Dr. Elizabeth Warren (Anne Archer), Ben Warren (Jason Winston George) is 50 years old. This story follows Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson, 52), a former surgical resident who wants to become a firefighter. The Grey's Anatomy fans still have to watch the other show to know what's going on in the story when there is a crossover episode.

The most fascinating aspect of the show is the dynamic between station captain Pruitt Herrera (Miguel Sandoval, 70) and his daughter, Lt. Jaina Lee Ortiz's Andy Herrera  

Stream it on ABC, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Hulu, or YouTube: Station 19.

Anna Delvey, a Russian immigrant who went by the name "Anna Sorokin," was a con artist who wreaked havoc in the New York social scene by bilking banks, hotels, restaurants, and friends out of $275,000. This limited series marks Rhimes' entry into the true-crime genre. Emmy winner Julia Garner (Ozark) plays Delvey opposite Anna Chlumsky (Veep) as journalist Vivian Kent, a fictionalized version of Jessica Pressler (New York Magazine), who broke the story. (Interestingly enough, Pressler also penned the article that served as the inspiration for the movie Hustlers. Scandal's Katie Lowes, Succession's Arian Moayed, and Orange Is the New Black's Laverne Cox are among the cast members.

The best part is that Garner successfully adopted a bizarro accent, which she called the most difficult accent she'll ever do.  

Check out the Netflix original series Inventing Anna.

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The cast of the television show Private Practice

General Entertainment Content by Eric Ogden/Disney / Getty Images

From left to right: Taye Diggs, Paul Adelstein, Amy Brenneman, Kate Walsh, Audra McDonald, KaDee Strickland, Tim Daly, and Chris Lowell, all of "Private Practice."

So here's the deal: At the end of the first season of Grey's Anatomy, Addison Montgomery, the ex-wife of Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey, 56), swung in like a wrecking ball. Addison moved to Los Angeles and started a private practice; the show lasted for six seasons because she became an instant fan favorite and Rhimes wanted to capitalize on that. The ensemble cast of the sunny spin-off included TV and stage veterans like Tim Daly (65), Benjamin Bratt (58), Amy Brenneman (57), Taye Diggs (51), and six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald (51), much like Grey's did.  

The best part was that Private Practice, unlike many network shows, never avoided controversial subjects like sexual assault and drug abuse.

See Private Practice on iTunes and Hulu

Viola Davis, 56, made history by becoming the first Black woman to win the Emmy for best actress in a drama series, and she deserved the award for her outstanding performance. Criminal defense attorney and law professor at a prestigious Philadelphia institution Annalise Keating (Davis) selects five students to intern at her firm. A pair of murders causes their destinies to become inextricably intertwined, and the story of these murders is revealed in flashbacks and future projections. During the series finale, Keating told the jury, "I'm ambitious, Black, bisexual, angry, sad, strong, sensitive, scared, fierce, talented, exhausted." Keating is one of the most nuanced characters in the Shondaland canon. Her towering performances anchored a series that, by its final years, had become increasingly outlandish.

Plus, did we mention Viola Davis?  

A&E's How to Get Away with Murder is available on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Netflix, and YouTube.

Shonda's second attempt at a period drama was a bigger success than Still Star-Crossed, and it was also her first show after signing a reported $100 million deal with Netflix. The eight aristocratic Bridgerton siblings of the 19th-century British Regency era are the focus of the soap opera's blockbuster under the watchful eye of an anonymous newsletter columnist known as Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews, 86). It was nominated for 12 Primetime Emmys and Creative Arts Emmys, including outstanding drama series and best actor for breakout star Regé-Jean Page, and Netflix declared it their most popular series of all time shortly after its premiere (it was later surpassed by Squid Game).

To top it all off, Rhimes has written a prequel limited series centered around Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel, 52), who is such a hilarious standout that she is getting her very own spinoff.

Bridgerton is available on Netflix, so check it out.

The Season 1 cast of Scandal

Photograph by Danny Feld for Disney/Getty Images for General Entertainment

From left to right: Darby Stanchfield, Katie Lowes, and Kerry Washington sit; Guillermo Diaz, Columbus Short, Jeff Perry, Tony Goldwyn, and Henry Ian Cusick stand.

The plot twists on the Peabody Award-winning drama, Scandal, were so tantalizing that viewers made it their Thursday night ritual to sit down with a bottle of red wine and the latest episode while tweeting their reactions. Kerry Washington played the role of Olivia Pope, the head of a D.C. C she works for a crisis management firm where she frequently interacts with President Fitzgerald Grant III (Tony Goldwyn, 61), his family, and the White House staff, which puts her in a position of political and romantic power. There were six Emmy nominations for the show, and two winners: Dan Bucatinsky, 56, and Joe Morton, 74, for best guest actor.  

The best part was that Olivia and Fitz had some of the sexiest chemistry on television, regardless of whether or not you were rooting for the central relationship, which was dubbed "Olitz."  

Scandal is now available on Hulu and Apple TV.

The cast of Grey's Anatomy

General Entertainment Content by Bob D'Amico/Disney/Getty Images

In order from left to right, that's Kate Walsh, Isaiah Washington, Justin Chambers, Patrick Dempsey, Sandra Oh, Katherine Heigl, and T. R Involving Knight, Chandra Wilson, and James Pickens, Jr. , Ellen Pompeo, and Sara Ramirez

Who could have predicted that Shonda Rhimes's debut series would become one of the most successful television programs of the 21st century when it debuted in the spring of 2005 as a mid-season replacement? With the exception of Patrick Dempsey, most of the actors in the film were unknowns, and at the time, Rhimes' most well-known works were the screenplays for The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement and the Britney Spears film Crossroads. But despite this, Dr. Strange quickly became a fan favorite. Sandra Oh (50), Katherine Heigl (50), Justin Chambers (51), and T.R. Knight (52) play Meredith Grey's coworkers at Seattle Grace Hospital. R Knight Grey's Anatomy popularized new phrases into the English language (such as "my person" and "McDreamy"), won Emmys, launched careers, and maintained high viewership for nearly two decades. It also created a new genre of sexy, humorous prime time soap opera, which dozens of other shows have tried (and failed) to imitate.

The best part is that Pompeo doesn't get nearly the credit she deserves for being the show's anchor for 18 seasons and counting, all while dating, marrying, and parenting. drowning, an airplane crash, a bomb, a shooting, and COVID-19 killing her husband (and parents and half-sister and friend and...).

Grey's Anatomy is available to watch on ABC, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube.

For both the entertainment and travel sections, Nicholas DeRenzo is a regular contributor. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Sunset, and New York Magazine, among others.

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