Since the premiere of Grey's Anatomy on ABC in 2005, Shonda Rhimes and her production company Shondaland have more or less inundated the television landscape with their unique brand of programming. Every Shondaland show is a veritable gold mine of talent both in front of and behind the camera, and each series is filled with empowering female characters, twisty romantic relationships, fractured families, and highly quotable scenes that are just meant for tweeting about.
As of April 2019, there have been nine Shondaland shows altogether, but as with any content creator's body of work, these shows have hardly all been of the same caliber. Some series never really got off the ground floor, while others continue to skyrocket in terms of quality and popularity. Some shows were too ambitious for their own good, while other shows could have stood to take a few more risks in storytelling. And to be frank, some shows just really were not good, while others are still as good as they've ever been.
Whatever your particular entertainment preferences may be, it's likely that Shondaland has something for you. Here, we break down all nine properties, from the worst to the best.
9 Still Star-Crossed
When it was announced that Shondaland would be producing a lush, high concept period piece in the form of Still Star-Crossed - a sequel to the story of Romeo and Juliet from the perspective of those who remained after the young lovers' deaths - the internet was, rightfully, curious and skeptical all at once. It was a marked change for the powerhouse production company that put out soapy, modern fare on the regular - and, as it turns out, it was a risk too far.
Still Star-Crossed is virtually unwatchable. With poor casting choices all around and paper-thin characters, the series is an insult not only to William Shakespeare's classic but to the Shondaland brand itself. It's almost hard to believe that this series was ever greenlit when there's so little to be found in its brief, seven-episode run that would ever have been worth salvaging.
8 The Catch
When a show is plagued by as many difficulties and changes early in its production as the 2016-2017 ABC series The Catch was, it's probably a sign that something is wrong with the idea for the show to begin with. Before the series ever made it to air, The Catch underwent multiple recastings and reshoots, and even before the second season premiered, multiple cast members exited the series.
It's almost fitting in a way, for a series revolving around the lives of grifters and con artists, that there was never anything remotely resembling stasis both on screen and off of it. But the Mireille Enos fronted series was never successful in trying to be as slick and trendy as it wanted viewers to think it was, no matter the powerhouse cast it had in the likes of Enos, Peter Krause, Gina Torres, and John Simm. Sometimes, a good cast really isn't everything.
7 Off The Map
Speaking of shows so bad they couldn't be saved despite the strength of their cast, let's talk about the one and done 2011 medical drama Off The Map. At this point in time, medical dramas were still the bread and butter of all things Shondaland, but Off The Map seemed deliberately designed from the very beginning to be different than all the rest. Featuring what essentially amounted to being an off-brand Doctors without Borders, Off The Map followed the lives of absurdly good looking doctors struggling to find themselves while working in South America.
Of course, scandals and tragic histories and romantic messes were hardly in short supply, but something about this group of characters never gelled in the way that the core characters in Shondaland's other medical dramas did. Despite featuring strong work from Grey's' own Martin Henderson and Jason George, as well as eventual Hannibal breakout Caroline Dhavernas and Friday Night Lights' Zach Gilford, the show just didn't work and was canceled after one 13 episode season.
6 For The People
In recent years, Shondaland has expanded its purview from solely medical dramas to include legal dramas, among other things. The second foray into the legal arena is the sophomore drama For The People. There's nothing inherently wrong with this series, but there's nothing exactly stellar about it, either. In many ways, For The People - which follows the daily lives of lawyers in the Southern District of New York Federal Court - feels like it's Law and Order for Dummies.
Featuring (as always) an impossibly beautiful cast of young lawyers just starting out in their careers, For The People has yet to really catch on with audiences in the way that long lasting Shondaland series do, barely pulling in two to three million viewers on a weekly basis. It's possible that, as the series and its characters mature, the show will find a unique voice and take on the legal system. But as of right now, For The People is more of the same formulaic courtroom drama we've already known for the last few decades.
5 Station 19
But it's not just legal dramas that Shondaland has started to explore in recent years. As of 2018, Shondaland has thrown its hat into the firefighter drama ring, trying to go up against the longstanding resident drama Chicago Fire on NBC with its own Grey's Anatomy spinoff, Station 19. Station 19 has the advantage of featuring a character that Grey's viewers already knew and adored - Jason George's Ben Warren, also known as Miranda Bailey's adoring husband.
Station 19 also benefits, therefore, from the occasional casual Grey's character crossover, whether it's Dr. Bailey herself, or Meredith, or one of the other doctors roaming the halls of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. In addition, the series has one of the strongest casts of all new Shondaland fare, including Hamilton's Okieriete Onaodowan, Boris Kodjoe, Marla Gibbs, and Brenda Song. Station 19 is a show that is finally finding its groove, midway through its second season. Hopefully, it can stick around for a while longer.
4 How To Get Away With Murder
How To Get Away With Murder is a show that is not at all as good as it once was - but when it was good, man, was it good. The legal drama (which really doubles as a seasonal murder mystery) was truly gripping television in its first season, and while subsequent seasons have found the series and its core cast of characters unraveling, leading lady Viola Davis remains one of television's most gripping powerhouse performers.
Annalise Keating is hardly a good person, but she just so happens to be damn good at what she does. As a law professor, and a lawyer, and a mentor, Annalise is about as good as they get. While the Keating Four (formerly known as the Keating Five, prior to Wes's murder) may not be anywhere near as gifted as their instructor, even after all these years, there's hope for a future generation of little legal monsters just like Annalise. But as to whether that's a good thing or a bad thing... well, the jury's still out.
While it may essentially be commonplace for shows to be thought of these days as "must tweet TV," ABC's Scandal basically invented and revolutionized that entire concept in its heyday - for better and for worse. Arguably the most over the top of all the Shondaland shows, Scandal aired for seven dark and twisty seasons and followed the corrupt, amoral world of politics and political fixing from the point of view of Olivia Pope - the (allegedly) best political fixer in the game.
The irony, of course, at the heart of the series was that, while Olivia was very good at fixing other people's messes, she never could quite get a handle on her own life. Whether she was sleeping with the President or the man who ran the spy agency B613, or whether her own coworkers were rebelling against her, or whether her father was threatening to kill everyone she loved in one scenery chewing monologue after another, Olivia Pope was the beating heart of Scandal - and Kerry Washington's gripping performance may have been the only thing to keep the often cringe-inducing series on the air for as long as it was.
2 Private Practice
When Grey's Anatomy first began all the way back in 2005, it would have been entirely impossible to imagine a world in which the duplicitous, conniving Dr. Addison Montgomery Shepherd would become the hero of her own story and lead a spinoff all on her own. And that, right there, is the magic of Shondaland. While Addison may not have been portrayed in the best of lights in the Meredith centric Grey's Anatomy, on her own series, Private Practice, the character gets to truly shine, surrounded by an entirely different cast of characters that support her and suit her far better than any of the Grey's characters ever did.
On Private Practice, Kate Walsh's acting is nothing short of a knockout as viewers get to learn more about what makes Addison truly tick. Addison is allowed to find love - in multiple places - and flourish in her career, unrestrained by the toxic environment of Seattle. With winning supporting characters played by KaDee Strickland, Paul Adelstein, and Chris Lowell, Private Practice is - in many ways - what Grey's Anatomy could have been, if it ever eased up on the soapiness.
1 Grey's Anatomy
Could any other Shondaland series truly top this list? Not only is Grey's Anatomy the series that started it all, fifteen seasons and over 350 episodes later, Grey's may just be as good as it ever was. While it's true that the series hardly resembles what it was in the very beginning, and there have been many seemingly insurmountable losses along the way (we're still bitter about George, Lexie, Mark, and Derek, to name a few), Grey's Anatomy never shies away from the challenge of reinventing itself - nor does leading lady Meredith Grey.
Grey's is one of the most wildly successful primetime soaps in history, and has featured more couples and love triangles than anyone could ever hope to count. But on top of that, each episode turns out gripping case after case in the medical field, providing multiple forms of entertainment. And all these years later, a few core characters - Meredith, Alex, Miranda, and Richard, to name a few - are still along for the ride, providing longtime fans with a truly meaningful experience as they witness these characters' lives change so profoundly over time. Whether you love it or you hate it, the truth can't be denied: Grey's Anatomy changed the television game. And there's no going back.