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"Scandal" Creator Shonda Rhimes Changes The Landscape Of Television

Acclaimed writer, director and executive producer Shonda Rhimes has hit yet another milestone. Her new show Scandal, starring Kerry Washington, has been picked up for a second season on ABC. The show and its creator are garnering praise from all sides for this long-overdue feat. The last time one of the major networks renewed a show with an African-American female lead was Get Christie Love back in 1974.

Scandal is based on the real-life exploits of political fixer Judy Smith. It centers around Washington’s character, Olivia Pope, who is just about the most powerful woman in Washington, D.C. She’s so poised, so beautiful, and so brilliant that she can literally bring the president of the United States to tears, as he laments losing her love. The fact that she also happens to be a young, black woman is simply taken as a given.

But it’s not a given. Far from it. In fact, this is a groundbreaking set-up. As the show’s creator, Rhimes has done what so many before her have tried and failed to do: create a seismic paradigm shift in Hollywood.

The paradigm shift that I’m referring to isn’t about the fact that there’s a black woman anchoring a network drama, as wonderful as that may be. No, the real story here is about Shonda Rhimes and the franchise that she’s created with hit shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and, now, Scandal.

By Kuwana Haulsey


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