Shondaland honcho Shonda Rhimes is leaving ABC to join Netflix, in what can only be described as a major coup for the streaming giant. The television hitmaker signed a multiyear deal that will officially make Netflix the new home of Shondaland, Rhimes’ namesake production company where shows like Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder and Scandal were born.
Rhimes’ departure comes just one week after Disney—ABC’s parent company—announced that it was exiting its partnership with Netflix to launch its own streaming service. While this deal must have been in the works long before Disney’s announcement, this certainly feels like a major announcement and equally big blow to Disney’s broadcast slate.
In an era where network television rarely carries as much cultural capital as its cable counterparts, Rhimes was the rare exception. Her shows still managed to tap into the zeitgeist, despite the PG restrictions of network TV. Now that the shackles are off, we’ll finally get to see what a NSFW Rhimes show might look like, which she confirmed was part of the appeal of leaving.
“Shondaland’s move to Netflix is the result of a shared plan Ted Sarandos and I built based on my vision for myself as a storyteller and for the evolution of my company,” Rhimes said in a statement. “Ted provides a clear, fearless space for creators at Netflix. He understood what I was looking for — the opportunity to build a vibrant new storytelling home for writers with the unique creative freedom and instantaneous global reach provided by Netflix’s singular sense of innovation. The future of Shondaland at Netflix has limitless possibilities.”
Rhimes’ attraction to the creative freedom that Netflix affords is part of the reason some of the industry’s top talents have continued to flock to the streaming service. Well, that and the money. Netflix has shown a willingness to dish out huge amounts of cash to work with top tier creators. Just last week, it announced new projects with the Coen brothers and David Letterman, both of whom will join a growing roster of talent that already includes Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Martin Scorsese and many more.
While Rhimes’ current shows will remain at ABC, her departure is just the latest blow to network television. And with Apple and Facebook—both of whom have unlimited amounts of money—set to join an already crowded streaming space, it’s going to get a lot worse for the ABC’s of the world before it gets better.