A loaded statement, perhaps, yet it’s fair to say that Shonda Rhimes is the reigning queen of the small screen.
ABC certainly concur; for they have – quite literally – given the TV producer their most coveted primetime block. As such, from the start of this Fall, three Rhimes shows will begin every hour on the hour from 8pm-10pm every Thursday. The titles awarded this sweet spot are ‘Greys Anatomy’, new series ‘How To Get Away With Murder’, and of course ‘Scandal’.
As reported, the Kerry Washington led series returns for a fourth season on September 25th. And, so as to create room for freshman show ‘Murder’ (which’ll air at 10pm) moves up an hour to 9pm.
Sitting down with the folk over at The Hollywood Reporter, Rhimes dished on what fans can expect from the latest series of the political drama – including the fate of Harrison (the character played by axed cast-member Columbus Short).
A number of interesting quotes await below…
On Harrison’s Fate:
THR: How will Harrison’s absence be addressed?
Rhimes: His absence will be explained definitively. What you think happened to his character happened to his character.
THR: Who will be most impacted by his death?
Rhimes: Olivia, really, but all the Gladiators are. It will be very devastating for Abby in a surprising way. You’ll see how she’s coping with it in a very different way than you would expect.
On Going Back To Basics In Season 4:
THR: Season three was pretty dark. You explored rape, the murder of Fitz’s teenage son — will season four continue to push the boundaries with controversial and sometimes polarizing storylines?
Rhimes: I think of each season as its own entity, especially on this show for some reason. Each season is very distinct. Season four is going to be very different from season three, the same way season two was different from season one. It just is. We’re telling different stories. Liv was in a different place. The characters are in different places. We’re in a different space. What I loved about when we got to the end of the season, we pushed a very strange reset button. Everybody’s life got wiped clean in a very odd way. Maya went back into the hole, Harrison is gone, OPA no longer exists, Fitz has been re-elected, his child is dead, and Mellie is a mess. Everything has been put in this very strange spot. Fitz is destroyed. He’s won the presidency, but he’s lost everything. We’re in a very different space than we were when we were even three episodes toward the end. We’re in a very different spot and everybody has been wiped clean, and anything goes, in a weird way.
THR: That must have been incredibly liberating.
Rhimes: It was very freeing, and terrifying. We spent a lot of time talking about what comes next, and I was very adamant that we’re not trying to top ourselves. I feel like when you have a show like this that reaches those operatic pitches where you get to a place where you’re continually trying to top yourself, you end up in such a bad place. You get to a place where things start to seem ridiculous, and I wasn’t interested in that. We were trying to tell stories about these characters. First and foremost, Scandal is a character study with very crazy things that happen, but it’s not a show in which it’s just, “How crazy can things get?” What I loved about what we’re doing is, we’re evening things out a bit.
THR: Season three expanded the Scandal universe a lot, adding several new characters to service. Will season four narrow the focus a bit?
Rhimes: I think so. It feels like the universe is getting smaller again. As we’re telling stories, the stories really do seem to be more focused on our core people. By necessity, in a weird way, last season we had to expand our universe. We had a lead actress who for reasons that are private [Washington’s pregnancy] was moving slower and could work less. So we had to hold things in front of her and tone it down a lot more. It just meant for us that it was a different energy for her, and we were taking care of somebody. She couldn’t work 14 hours a day, so we had to tell our story in a different way, and that necessitated other people both picking up the slack in beautiful ways — we got to really see Bellamy Young [First Lady Mellie Grant] sing and all the amazing moves she could do. We got to see those people sing in amazing ways and bring in other people for them to play against. We had to expand the universe for those things to happen. A lot of it was a way of taking care of Kerry, but now that we have the ability to use Kerry the way we need to use her, it means we get to bring everything back to our core in a way that we had in season two and one.
THR: More of the “case of the week” we previously saw?
Rhimes: Definitely more of a case of the week, but also literally we can tell a story in which our characters are in a room together. In season two and season one, Kerry is in almost every scene, and that’s not possible in season three. So it just necessitated a different mode of storytelling, and we’re very excited to get back to Olivia-centric storytelling.
Read the full interview here.
Shonda’s approach to storytelling and “keeping it real” (both on screen and off) literally jumps at you. And it’s refreshing, exciting.
Needless to say, we’re already counting down the days until ‘Scandal’ blazes back onto the box!