Recently, fans of Shondaland shows were treated to the crossover moment of the year. No, not a preview of Infinity War.
Annalise Keating and Olivia Pope finally shared the same screen for the first time. The "How To Get Away With Scandal" TV event was the best parts of both Shondaland shows rolled into one.
It was enough to make us forget about some of the recurring problems that usually pop up in Shondaland shows.
Even the most diehard fan can admit that there are some issues in shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How To Get Away With Murder that are harder to turn a blind eye to.
From outlandish catastrophes to characters who can’t seem to keep one motivation, sometimes the problems with Shondaland shows can get annoying.
For a lot of people, though, the shows are good enough that we keep coming back week after week. Maybe you want to support diversity on television, or maybe you’re really into the drama that’s promised every Thursday night. Some issues you’re just willing to overlook.
Here are the 15 Things Wrong With Shondaland Shows We All Choose To Ignore. Spoilers ahead!
15 No male lead can be trusted
No matter what show you’re watching, you can count on some stunning male leads on Shondaland shows.
The men on her shows are witty, attractive, and ready to charm the pants off both their fellow characters and the TV audience.
Until, of course, all of the skeletons in their closets are revealed.
If you find yourself starting to fall in love with a male lead on a Shonda show, proceed with caution. Odds are, the writers are waiting to reveal a humongous personal issue that he has that’s eventually going to cause a ton of drama on the show.
Affairs, attempted murders, framing other people for crimes, with a dash of inflated ego thrown in for good measure. You know, normal relationship problems.
14 The women are in bad relationships
Olivia Pope. Annalise Keating. They’re written as strong women, and they definitely get their fair share of stand out moments.
For the most part, they fit the label of “strong female character.” If only they weren’t constantly stuck in toxic romantic relationships.
Olivia can’t just be great, she always has to be stuck in some drama with Fitz that gets progressively more and more outlandish as the seasons go on.
Annalise Keating looks like she has a great marriage at the beginning of season one, but then we find out that her husband was cheating on her and hired one of her associates to murder the girl he was sleeping with.
We know that drama keeps viewers coming, but give our girls a break.
13 No relationship is safe
While the main characters might be stuck in awful romantic relationships, a lot of the other bit players form strong, fan favorite relationships in the background.
Grey’s Anatomy is notorious for this -- there have been so many couples over the course of the show that it’s hard to remember all the different pairings.
You always know your favorite, though... until they’re ripped apart.
Did you like Christina and Burke together? Too bad, he’s leaving her at the altar. Love Izzie and Alex? That’s getting trashed, too. Even the central relationship of the show, Meredith and Derek, was completely destroyed with McDreamy’s death. Is nothing sacred?
Don’t form any attachments to romantic pairings, because odds are they’ll be moved around or crushed for no apparent reason.
12 The episode structure never changes
This new golden age of television has really spoiled avid TV show lovers. We don’t have to be content with formulaic, predictable shows any more. Maybe that’s why it’s so disappointing that the structure of Shondaland episodes never ever changes.
It’s gotten to the point where you don’t even really have to watch the show to guess at the beats of what happens.
Annalise comes to class to give a lecture on something related to a case she needs to solve in the next 45 minutes, the Murder Gang bickers, her defendant does something stupid, flashback flashback flashback and she wins the case. Fin.
Olivia is called in to fix something, there’s a dramatic reveal, she yells at Fitz for something and drinks some wine.
It’s the same episode every time, but we keep watching every week.
11 They ignore the basics of their fields
Shondaland’s three most popular shows (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How To Get Away With Murder) are in three huge professional fields: medicine, politics, and law.
While no one really expects these shows to be 100% true to life, the writers could at least Google some of the biggest things about the fields they were portraying on TV.
Seattle Grace should have dozens of malpractice suits by now. (Hey, Izzie, you can’t cut the LVAD wire of a patient just because you love him.)
It’s super unlikely that a criminal law professor would also be taking high profile murder cases.
Even in today’s political climate, we can’t imagine that a president would be able to murder a Supreme Court justice and just keep it moving.
10 Viewers love to hate the characters
Let’s be real -- one of the best parts about watching the Shondaland shows is hating on all of the characters who make stupid decisions every week.
There are some characters who we start to love, and we tune in each week because we want to see them succeed. Others, on the other hand, are just dumpster fire human beings.
Nothing they do makes any sense, and it seems like their sole purpose is just making life difficult for the characters we actually love.
Even the main characters sometimes are easier to root against than to root for. And it’s not because they’re anti-heroes like Don Draper or Walter White, it’s just because they kinda suck. We’re willing to ignore it, though, because they cause drama that’s too good to pass up.
9 People are weirdly articulate
No matter what Shonda Rhimes show you’re watching, you can guarantee that there will be some great monologues sprinkled throughout every season. The actors have even spoken about how they feel like the dialogue feels Shakespearean -- especially when they’re trying to memorize a complicated three-minute tirade.
Those monologues are all incredibly eloquent, but it’s not just the monologues.
The characters on Rhimes’ shows might be highly educated, but even people with doctorates don’t always speak like they swallowed a dictionary. (And if they do, you can almost guarantee it’s because they’re showing off.)
The characters don’t always sound like real life -- and depending on who you ask, they all sound the same any way -- but they make for spectacularly entertaining moments. We’ve decided to collectively let their tongue twisters slide.
8 The catastrophes are unbelievable
Honestly, how many disasters can be focused on one hospital? By now, Seattle Grace has seen a ferry crash, a plane crash, a few shootings, an earthquake... and that doesn’t even begin to mention the personal drama that’s happening between the doctors and interns.
There’s no way that that many catastrophes would ever come to one hospital. Since the writers have to keep raising the stakes, though, crazier and crazier things keep happening to the hospital.
The same thing happens on Scandal -- Olivia’s mom isn’t dead, she’s a terrorist. Quinn has a secret identity. Nothing is what you think it is.
You need drama to make a show interesting, but at a certain point nothing is realistic any more.
7 There are too many plot twists
A really good plot twist comes out of nowhere at first. It’s shocking and thrilling and makes you desperate to keep watching to find out more. When you go back and rewatch (or re-read), though, you should be able to see the breadcrumbs that were leading up to it.
That’s true of some storylines across Shondaland shows, but more often those plot twists really do just come out of nowhere.
Also, they don’t even necessarily make sense, they’re just there to shock us and keep us guessing.
Presumed dead fiances come back to life just when new relationships are heating up, long-lost family members of Meredith’s converge on Seattle, mothers turn out to be terrorists…
The thing is, when you expect there to be a plot twist every episode, they start being less fun.
6 The characters are insanely well-dressed
Most television show characters are better dressed than people in real life. (Unless, of course, you’re watching something like The Walking Dead.)
We don’t blink when thirteen year olds have a weirdly good sense of style or when the hot mess character somehow had the time and money to buy the entire Banana Republic catalogue. We know there are professionals behind the scenes.
Shondaland characters, though, take it even farther. It’s not unrealistic that they’d be able to afford some of the clothes with their high-powered jobs, but Olivia Pope is in a new $800 coat every week. It pushes the boundaries of “suspend your disbelief,” but since most viewers want her wardrobe anyway, we’re happy to drool over what we can’t afford.
Bonnie’s wardrobe on HTGAWM is probably more realistic, but who wants to be Bonnie?
5 Hardcore enemies become lovers
If you’ve spent any amount of time reading fanfiction or romance novels, you’re probably way too familiar with the “enemies to lovers” trope.
Two characters who are mortal enemies eventually realize that all that hate was really just tension, and they finally stop lying to themselves and become a couple. It’s the same story every time, but when it’s told well, it’s still captivating.
It’s easy to imagine school enemies becoming lovers. It’s harder to imagine marrying the same person who framed you for murder when you first met.
(Ahem, Charlie and Quinn on Scandal.) Or trusting the person who framed you for the murder of her husband. (Nate, you deserve better.)
Like so many other things on the show, we’re willing to overlook how crazy it is because it’s fun to watch. It might not be completely plausible, but it’s no big deal as long as we’re entertained on Thursday nights.
4 There’s way too much suspension of disbelief
Of course, that grace period only extends so far before even the most hardcore Shondaland fans start calling foul. We know her three most popular shows are all considered evening soap operas.
There’s a certain number of unbelievable plots that you can expect from those shows -- if you’re looking for gritty realism, you might want to change the channel.
However, we shouldn’t have to settle for Days of Our Lives level drama even on an evening soap opera. As the seasons of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal march on, the writers have to keep creating bigger and more outlandish catastrophes to keep people watching.
Let’s not even touch all the convoluted plans that the Murder Gang on HTGAWM have pulled off without getting arrested.
Maybe we just keep watching because we think we can match Olivia Pope glass for glass on that red wine.
3 There’s no such thing as a graceful character exit
Actors leave shows all the time. Whether it’s because they found a great new job opportunity elsewhere or because they did something to make the showrunners angry, odds are one of your favorite characters will leave at some point.
A good team of writers will find a way to creatively write that character off of the show in a way that wraps up their arc and gives the audience some closure.
Unless you’re a Shondaland writer, in which case the solution seems to be “Eh, just kill them off.”
It’s no secret that Shonda Rhimes will make sure you no longer have a job on her show if your behavior is awful, but that means that we’ve seen way too many character deaths over the years.
2 The characterization is inconsistent
One of the reasons that we watch shows (or keep watching) is for the characters. You need a good plot to keep the show moving, but it’s nothing without characters we want to keep watching every week. Interesting characters are usually the best part of any show.
Even hardcore Shonda fans sometimes find themselves having trouble with her shows’ characters, though. One of the symptoms of the constant plot twists every week is that the character’s motivations usually change to fit whatever the newest plot is.
If they had a change of heart last week, there’s no guarantee that it will carry over into this week’s episode. The hero of episode one is the villain of episode two. It’s exhausting to try and keep up with all the changes.
1 They’re the same premise in different settings
Okay, let’s be real. If you sit down and watch each show of TGIT each week, you’ve probably come to this same conclusion. It’s the same basic idea changed for different settings.
The main character is presented with a case that seems impossible to solve but will be solved by the end of the hour.
Supporting cast members will argue and hook up in the background. There’s probably a character revelation around 28 minutes in. Throw in a few plot twists, and...fin.
What that looks like takes different shapes depending on which show you’re watching, but in general, it’s pretty much the same premise each time. In the end, though, it doesn’t matter, because Shonda Rhimes and her team are good at what they do. They keep creating entertaining television, and we keep coming back for more.
WAre there other recurring problems with Shondaland shows that we overlook? Let us know in the comments!
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