Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, is opening up about the differences between working for a network like ABC and a streaming platform like Netflix.
“They’re completely different engines,” Rhimes told Vulture in an interview. “ABC was a very powerful, very storied institution. There’s a ton of bureaucracy. The process was you get answered ‘no’ initially and then you have to find your way.”
Rhimes continued, “Even getting Scandal to start what was live-tweeting, they were like, ‘Why would anybody do that? No.’ And then they came around to a ‘yes,’ but we just did it on our own until they saw it. We accomplished a lot in terms of exploring a woman’s right to choose, stuff I thought was just storytelling but turned out to be a real sort of quiet battle on my part to make happen on TV.”
The Shondaland production company founder signed a multi-million deal with Netflix back in 2017, which she extended in 2021 to cover films, gaming and VR content, in addition to TV. As opposed to network television, Rhimes said that “Netflix was a baby in this business” when she started working with them.
“They start with ‘yes’ and then figure out how to make something happen. And the attitude of a place that says ‘yes’ has a lot to do with your enthusiasm for doing the projects,” she added.
In terms of budget between the two, Rhimes said she “was so obsessed with Netflix in the beginning” was because someone told her that The Crown had a budget of $12 million per episode.
“I just couldn’t get over it. That is so much money. Think about what you could do with a much bigger playground,” Rhimes said.
Most of the shows that Rhimes has created drive conversations on social media and with a vocal fan base suggesting ideas of what the characters should do next, things could get tricky. However, the producer and writer doesn’t let fans dictate her creative decisions.
“I think I’m pretty famous for being a person who says I don’t pay attention to fans,” she revealed. “I don’t mean that in a bad way; I mean, the only way I know how to tell a story is to sort of be its keeper, and I therefore can’t take in all the outside influences from people’s reactions to the story. It doesn’t help me in figuring out a way to be creative in my job.”