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Shonda Rhimes and social criticism

Shonda Rhimes, the creator of "Grey’s Anatomy," "Scandal," and, most recently, "How to Get Away with Murder," makes a point of including characters of diverse races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations, and is well-known for her portrayal of strong women. However, her portrayals are not without controversy. She is often accused of portraying women and minorities in powerful positions without addressing the trials and tribulations it took for them to get there. Does this do an injustice to her characters as a form of white-washing history, or is it progressive that she portrays minority characters without making their race, sexual orientation, etc. their defining character trait?

This topic is especially timely for two reasons. First of all, Patrick Dempsey, the male lead of Grey’s Anatomy, recently left the show; it will now focus on Meredith Grey and her experiences as a single mother of two and successful surgeon. Audiences will likely be interested to see how Rhimes handles the topic of single motherhood. Second of all, Viola Davis recently received an Emmy for her portrayal of Dr. Keating in "How to Get Away With Murder," making her the first African American woman to receive an Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama.

  • You make excellent points and it is a great topic due to the popularity of Shonda's shows. On one hand, I want to say yes, it is white-washing history; yet why should there be explanations as to why people of color are successful? We never have that expectation when viewing successful white people on television. You raise interesting, relevant issues pertinent to society and I think this will make for a polarizing topic--the best kind. Even the fact that Viola Davis was the first African American woman to win an Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama is pathetic in a society that prides it's "diversity." The way in which Shonda handles minority characters is in a respectful, real, contemporary manner. Her shows revolve around characters, not their social identities, something I hope to see more of on television, and film. – danielle577 5 years ago
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  • I think that a lot of people have opinions about this subject, which is a good reason, but not the only reason to write about it. Discussions of how gender ideologies, race, and other aspects of our culture are portrayed in the media (specifically in television) are important for furthering our development as a society. – Morgan R. Muller 5 years ago
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  • Rhimes isn't really "creator" of "How To Get Away With Murder," though, she's a producer but neither writer or director (Peter Nowalk is the creator). It would be important to include a discussion of how her influence over a series varies by her role in that series. – ashleybrooke 5 years ago
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