Pop Culture Fix: Shonda Rhimes and Netflix Are Teaming Up, TV’s About to Get a Whole Lot Gayer

It feels frivolous to write about pop culture today. Like you, I’m nauseated by the white supremacist rally that took place in Charlottesville this weekend, and unsurprised but enraged by Donald Trump’s response, and mourning for Heather Heyer’s family, and sick with worry about the emotional and physical toll this is all taking on the people of color and Jewish folks most persecuted and oppressed by it. It’s consuming my every thought. I love y’all and I’m out here fighting alongside you every day, even when I pause to write about TV and movies.

The Queen of the Galaxy

Netflix has lured Shonda Rhimes away from ABC after 15 years, which, in my mind, is the end of network broadcast television and the inevitable next step of Shonda Rhimes’ slow march toward becoming the official queen of the galaxy. According to the Wall Street Journal, Rhimes was making $10 million a year at ABC, and Variety says Netflix “undoubtedly is paying a premium” to get Rhimes and Shondaland to come over to their streaming platform.

Grey’s (and the new Grey’s spin-off), How to Get Away With Murder, and Scandal will stay with ABC; Rhimes will be developing a new slate of programs for Netflix. My feeling about this is just complete ecstasy. For starters, Shonda Rhimes deserves to be making a billion dollars a year. But also I am just so excited for us. Rhimes has done more than I would have ever believed possible for women of color and queer people on broadcast television. At Netflix she’ll be able to do anything she wants. I think that means things are going to get even gayer and even more POC-focused and my god now is the time for it. I’m extra especially convinced after Ava DuVernay’s piece in Variety about why Netflix understands artists and diversity.

Also, I was flipping through Good Housekeeping today (leave me alone, I’m an elderly lesbian!) and have you seen this amazing ad?

The Pilot pen company made a G2 pen and named it The Overachiever’s Pen and made Shonda Rhimes the face of it.


+ If you’re looking for an officially licensed Broad City sex toy, you very weirdly happen to be in luck.

+ Alice Isn’t Dead, the whimsical nightmare podcast starring our beloved Jasika Nicole, is being adapted for TV. She better be get the truck driver leading role!

+ Elizabeth Moss would like you to give up guessing what’s going to happen next season on The Handmaid’s Tale.

+ Shay Mitchell is playing gay again in Lifetime’s ten-episode TV adaptation of Caroline Kepnes’s You, a story about — look, I’m just going to be real with you. This book is like the alternate universe love child of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars. Penn Badgley (Dan Humphrey/Gossip Girl) plays the main guy character and Shay Mitchell (Emily Fields/Robot Emily Fields) plays the other main character. The whole story is just so very completely fucked up. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s gonna be a mess. TBD whether or not it’s a watchable mess.

+ Hannibal‘s coming back to TV, I guess? Goodbye forever, Margot and Alana.

+ Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson are doing a 2 Dope Queens HBO special!


+ Amandla Stenberg and Algee Smith have signed on to star in The Hate U Give, a film adaptation of Angela Thomas’s Black Lives Matter-inspired novel.

+ Well, now here’s a thing: St. Vincent is directing a female-led adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray for Lionsgate. My brain has not fully wrapped itself around any of that sentence.

+ Octavia Spencer is going to star in the new Madam C.J. Walker mini-series by LeBron James’ production company! Speaking of which, there are 60+ biopcs about black public figures in development. Shadow and Act has a full and detailed list.

+ Anna Paquin has joined the female-led creative team behind the film adaptation of Fiona Shaw’s queer novel, Tell It To The Bees.

Queer Humans, Out and About

+ Over at Broadly: The Man Running a Queer Film Festival in a Nation Where Homosexuality Is Illegal

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. During my lunch break I happened upon the news of St. Vincent’s adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray. I’m undecided. I love all this gender-swapping that’s happening to movies lately, but I also dislike movies messing with my beloved books. So, I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

  2. I’m so excited about this Shonda Rhimes news, I can hardly stand it. She’s always looking for new ways to challenge herself and I’ll be interested to see how she adapts her writing style for this new medium. Plus, the added bonus of being able to create without the considerations regular networks require (language, ratings, sex, etc.)…I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.

    But, in case Shonda’s taking requests, I’m here for anything featuring Rose Rollins (a Shondaland alum, formerly of The Catch) or Medalion Rahimi (a Shondaland alum, formerly of Still Star Crossed)…and if they happen to be on the same show, kissing each other? All the better.

  3. I’ve been noticing a lot of previously reliable women (especially women of color) getting offered projects at HBO in the past two years. It appears quite transparent to me that HBO is actively seeking out black women’s projects to use as a defense of some kind against the very righteous criticisms that HBO’s greatest moneymakers are incredibly racist and misogynistic. I hope that the black women bringing their projects to HBO are aware of what they’re getting into and how they are being used.

      • I mean, they are. But everyone in history who’s ever been used as a token has been talented. That doesn’t mean they’re not being tokenized.

  4. The news about Shonda Rhimes completely made my life. I know Netflix isn’t perfect, but I’m just imagining what Shonda could do with that freedom and flexibility – it’s going to be incredible, I’m sure.

    Heather, do not feel guilty for paying attention to movies and tv shows. We all need to take a breather from the shit show that is the news at some point. And anyway, aren’t you the one who’s always saying that that queer media can change the world? How better to fight fascism than to talk about and watch a bunch of queer women of colour make out with each other? Think of how angry it would make all those country club Nazi’s!

    No, not you. That was just my involuntary response to the St. Vincent-female-Dorian Gray news. I’m excited, and apparently that causes me to go full Valley girl.

  6. ALICE ISN’T DEAD!!! I’m so excited it’s being adapted! I love that podcast! It will be interesting how they adapt the beauty of the constant narrative into visuals. It will change a lot of the surprises and “jumpscares” but I adore the story so much. And yes, Jasika better still be Kiesha!

    Also have mixed feelings about a Dorian Gray adaptation because it’s one of my favorite books and I love queer women stories, but I think a big point of the book is about interaction between men that might be interpreted/have different meaning when framed around female characters that could either be fascinating or really terrible. It will be interesting to see the direction it takes. I’m excited to see it!

  7. I read the article about the Shay Mitchell show and it doesn’t sound gay at all Heather? Is there something I’m missing?

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