ABC Titan Shonda Rhimes' Defection to Netflix: Your Burning Qs Answered

Were the quake that shook up Hollywood late Sunday one of the literal rather than figurative variety, it would have measured at least a 7.0 on the Richter scale — it was that massive. Even now, days after the news broke that Shonda Rhimes was leaving her longtime home at ABC for the land of deep pockets and creative freedom known as Netflix, the television capitol is reeling from the aftershocks.

But, while insiders rushed to assess the long-term damage that the small-screen bigwig’s defection would inflict upon the embattled broadcast biz, Joe and Jane TV Fan were busy worrying about what Rhimes’ move meant not only for their favorite current Shondaland series — the one-two-three punch of her #TGIT hits, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder — but also possibly past ones (a Catch revival?!) 

Will Greys Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder continue to air on ABC?
Yes. All of Rhimes current and in-the-pipeline ABC series are staying put on the Alphabet network, including midseason entries For the People and the still-untitled firefighter-themed Grey’s Anatomy spinoff.

Might Scandal now continue beyond Season 7, on Netflix?
Negatory. As Rhimes herself explained back in May, the decision to end Scandal after seven seasons was a creative one not a business one. “I turned to my producing partner Betsy Beers and said ‘What if we don’t let Scandal go on forever?'” Rhimes recalled in her Shondaland newsletter. “It had begun to occur to us that… shows written by me don’t seem to end. Every show I’ve created has gone more than 100 episodes. People keep watching. The network is happy. And that’s awesome. But what happens if we let all the shows go on and on without end? What if we just hang on so long that people don’t say why are you ending, but when? What if we don’t let anyone say when?”

Could The Catch or Still Star-Crossed get revived on Netflix?
In this day and age, pretty much any deceased TV show can — and probably will — be revived. But I’m told there are no current plans for Netflix to order additional seasons of any axed Shondaland series, including the one-and-done Still Star-Crossed and the two-and-done romantic caper The Catch.

Is Shondaland now 100-percent Netflix?
Not exactly. ABC Studios wisely secured overall deals with several showrunners from Shondaland series, including Pete Nowalk (How to Get Away With Murder), Krista Vernoff and Bill Harper (Grey’s Anatomy) and Mark Fish (Scandal).

Is Shonda already done at ABC?
Yes. Although her four-year pact with the network wasn’t set to expire until May 2018, Rhimes — clearly itching to get started at Netflix — negotiated an early exit. (We’re guessing that signing off on the forthcoming Grey’s spinoff was at the top of ABC’s list of conditions.)

How soon might we see the first new Shonda show on Netflix?
Probably not until 2018 at the earliest, but you can bet you’ll be hearing about it much sooner. In fact, it’s safe to say Netflix will hand Shondaland its first series pickup before year’s end. Also, keep in mind we haven’t witnessed the arrival of a true Shonda Rhimes series — one created and written by Rhimes herself — since Scandal launched nearly six years ago. So you better believe her little idea book is bursting at the seams.

Did anyone see this coming?
Not to toot our own horn, but we did. Back in January, I read the tea leaves (i.e. the key executive hires at Shondaland, Rhimes’ suspicious lack of output, etc.) and predicted the TV trailblazer was plotting something big and stream-y. So I’m pretty sure that entitles me to a pat on the back at least. I’m open to something more grandiose though.