Netflix announced its first planned series with Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers’ Shondaland on Friday, and judging from the show descriptions, we should expect a lot of drama and another dose of Scandal, in that a couple of these projects involve alums of that Kerry Washington–starring political drama.
“I wanted the new Shondaland to be a place where we expand the types of stories we tell, where my fellow talented creatives could thrive and make their best work and where we as a team come to the office each day filled with excitement,” Rhimes said in a statement, adding that Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, his vice president of original content Cindy Holland, “and everyone at Netflix have been incredible partners in making that happen. This is Shondaland 2.0.”
So, what exactly, does Shondaland 2.0 look like?
Remember that viral story about a young and posh 20-something who duped Manhattan’s elite (even one Vanity Fair staffer) into believing she was an heiress? Well, according to the press release, Shonda’s going to make us wonder again if “she[’s] the stuff American dreams are made of or is she New York’s biggest con woman?” and “is it a con if you enjoy being taken?” The New York article mentioned Delvey’s penchant for shopping fancy designers like Acne and Rick Owens. Is it too much to hope that Scandal costume designer Lyn Paolo, who was known for dressing Washington in sleek labels like Burberry, might return to the Shondaland fold for this as-yet-to-be titled story?
Can one be an Anglophile and wear a pink hat? Chris Van Dusen, who is an alum of the Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal writers’ rooms, and therefore knows a ton about steamy trysts, is adapting author Julia Quinn’s best-selling Bridgerton book series. The still-untitled series is described as a “smart, feminist take on Regency England romance [that] unveils the glittering, wealthy, sexual, painful, funny, and sometimes lonely lives of the women and men in London’s high society marriage mart.” Hopefully it’ll fare better than Still Star-Crossed, another Shondaland-produced period romance that only lasted one season and has a 42% Tomatometer score.
The esteemed playwright, who also appears in Shondaland’s ABC drama For the People, is adapting author Isabel Wilkerson’s best-selling historical non-fiction The Warmth of Other Suns into a series that the press release promises will track “the decades-long migration of African-Americans fleeing the Jim Crow South in search of a better life in the North and the West between 1916 and 1970.”
Mad Men and Gilmore Girls alum Janet Leahy is creating a series currently titled Pico & Sepulveda, which is set in the 1840s when the state we now associate with Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and the beach was then part of Mexico. The press release says it will follow “the end of an idyllic era there as American forces threaten brutality and war at the border to claim this breathtaking land for its own” and sounds like an excellent companion for those who enjoyed the Netflix miniseries Godless (which has an 89% Fresh Tomatometer score).
Writer-actress Jill Alexander – you know her as the oft-fired Hooli staffer Patrice from HBO’s Silicon Valley – is creating this half-hour series currently titled Sunshine Scouts. The plot sounds ideal for anyone who enjoys Netflix’s teen-focused dark comedies like American Vandal (98% on the Tomatometer): “An apocalyptic disaster spares a rag-tag group of teenage girls at sleep-away camp who must then summon their moxie and survival skills to weather the fallout and ensure all that remains of humanity abides by the Sunshine Scout Law.”
Netflix and Shondaland have acquired the rights to Ellen Pao’s groundbreaking memoir detailing her life and career, including the lawsuit she brought against her former employer that triggered lasting media attention to sexism in Silicon Valley and foreshadowed the Time’s Up movement (in which Rhimes and Beers have both been active). Netflix has yet to announce a head writer or an official title.
Also on the docket for an adaptation: Kate Anderson Brower’s non-fiction book, The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House. While a head writer has not been named and the series does not have an official title, we are told that the series will follow in the footsteps of Brower’s book and give an “accurate insider’s account of White House residence staffers and the upstairs downstairs lives they share with the First Families at one of the most famous homes in history.”
Tentatively titled Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, this documentary will go behind the scenes of the Grey’s Anatomy star’s (and frequent Shondaland series director) infamous Debbie Allen Dance Academy as they reimagine the classic ballet The Nutcracker with an inclusive cast and a blend of dance traditions. Oliver Bokelberg, who was the directing producer on Scandal, will serve as director, cinematographer, and producer.