NY Times writer Alessandra Stanley called the “owner” of Thursday nights on ABC’s network an angry black woman. Stanley said, when Shonda Rhimes decides to write her autobiography, she should title it How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman, claiming this mentality enabled her rise to fame. The writer states Rhimes has done nothing but reproduce herself in many of her characters. Rhimes has been known to dominate Thursday nights on ABC with Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and now with her newest series, How to Get Away With Murder.
A Twitter storm erupted as Rhimes fired back at Stanley, along with other Twitter users who fall within creative producer’s fan base. Stanley’s main argument surrounding Rhimes is that her lead characters are often black with “potent libidos” who are angry. Namely, Scandal’s Olivia Pope, played by Kerry Washington and Grey’s Anatomy’s Bailey, played by Chandra Wilson. Stanley wrote in her article:
Ms. Rhimes has embraced the trite but persistent caricature of the “angry black woman” and recast it in her own image and made it enviable.
@ShondaRhimes who did not create the new show How to Get Away With Murder tweeted in response to Pete Nowalk, the actual creator of the show and a white male, that the two of them could be “angry black women” together. She added, she had no idea she was angry and included the hashtag #LearnSomethingNewEveryday. She then replied in a tweet to the critic:
Wait. I am “angry” AND a ROMANCE WRITER?!! I am going to need to put down the internet and go dance this one out. Because ish is getting real.
Others joined in the Twitter war with their own comments such a Joshua Malina, of Scandal’s cast, who tweeted:
Wow, did I just read a @nytimes piece that reduced my brilliant, compassionate, creative, thoughtful, bada** boss to an “angry black woman?
Sarah Kendzior, writer and creator of The Newsroom, tweeted:
So Shonda Rhimes is an “angry black woman” but Aaron Sorkin delivers an opinionated speech and forceful denunciation?
It was quite a bold move to come up against ShondaLand by calling Rhimes an “angry black woman.” Rhimes has nothing to be angry about, she is the reigning queen of Thursday nights. She managed to create an empire that has successfully become home to characters of a variety of minority groups. Since 1974, Scandal is the first network television drama with an African-American female lead character. Some feel as if it serves as hope while others feels it is nothing more than superficial representation of a culture.
ABC is not shy about crediting Rhimes with helping them crawl out of a three-year lag which held them at fourth place with advertisers. Rhimes keeps Thursday lucrative for the network and they happily give her the key as she continuously keeps viewers hostage with their emotions soaring on an emotional roller coaster.
Betsy Beers, Rhimes longtime producing partner, said it is hard to believe the master series creator did not grow up on television. Beers said Rhimes’ grasp of storytelling, the world, language and the ability to craft characters is something she has mastered. The producer uses many actors in her shows but also recycles them. The ShondaLand characters tend to be recurring in one series and a main character in the other. ABC’s Paul Lee said:
It was a “no-brainer” to turn over the network’s most valuable real estate to her. We pride ourselves on strong, creative voices, and there is no voice in television as powerful right now as Shonda Rhimes’ voice.
NY Times writer Alessandra Stanley believes Rhimes has done nothing but reproduce herself in many of her characters. Rhimes has been deemed the Queen of Thursdays to millions but to Stanley, although she admits the Scandal writer may be brilliant, she rose to her throne by being an “angry black woman.” Shonda Rhimes caused Twitter to explode when she fired back allowing all of her fans to join the Twitter beef.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)