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Shonda Rhimes Discusses Writers' Strike and Streaming's Impact

Shonda Rhimes

LOS ANGELES - APR 08: Shonda Rhimes, Kerry Washington and Betsy Beers arrives to the "Scandal" 100th Episode Party on April 08, 2017 in Los Angeles, CA (DFree / Shutterstock.com)

Shonda Rhimes, the acclaimed creator behind hit series like "Bridgerton," "Grey’s Anatomy," and "Scandal," recently shared her insights on the writers' strike and the evolving landscape of television streaming, particularly focusing on her move to Netflix and its broader implications.

Key Takeaways:

  • Shonda Rhimes reflects on her role during the writers' strike.
  • Rhimes was one of the first to sign a major deal with Netflix in 2017.
  • Her move was motivated by a desire for creative freedom, not just financial gain.
  • Rhimes' shift to Netflix marked a significant trend in the industry.
  • The economics of streaming, according to Rhimes, work well for Netflix but may not for others.
  • Rhimes currently enjoys a break from narrative programming, exploring documentaries and sports.

Context of the Writers' Strike

During a Q&A at The New York Times DealBook conference, Rhimes discussed her experience during the writers' strike. She emphasized her solidarity with fellow writers, particularly those who were more financially vulnerable. The strike was crucial for securing a living wage and future assurances for writers, especially those earning less.

The Netflix Move and Industry Shift

Rhimes' decision to move to Netflix in 2017 was a pivotal moment in the television industry. This move, driven by a quest for creative freedom and the potential for high-budget projects like "The Crown," signaled a significant shift towards streaming services. Rhimes mentioned her conversation with Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, highlighting her desire to focus solely on content creation. Following her, other prominent figures like Ryan Murphy also transitioned to streaming platforms.

Impact on Streaming and Television

Rhimes acknowledged the disruption caused by streaming services in the television landscape, particularly in terms of residuals for writers and actors. She anticipated criticism for catalyzing the industry's move towards streaming but clarified that her decision was not financially motivated. The economics of streaming, as she noted, are uniquely favorable for Netflix but may not be sustainable for other platforms.

Rhimes' Current Viewing Preferences

Interestingly, Rhimes shared that she has taken a break from watching narrative television to give her brain a rest. Her current interests lie in documentaries and sports programming, which she finds more appealing at the moment. This break also helps her avoid external influences on her creative projects.

Conclusion

Shonda Rhimes' reflections offer a unique perspective on the recent writers' strike and the seismic shifts in the television industry due to the rise of streaming services. Her move to Netflix not only marked a personal transition but also a broader industry trend towards streaming platforms. While the economics of streaming are beneficial for some, they present challenges and opportunities for the industry as a whole.