As Avirex jackets and sweat pants replace tube tops and skort sets, we welcome the arrival of another barrage of good, terrible, and Tyler Perry television to love, hate and live-tweet each night. From ill-advised sassy Black makeover shows to cancelation-hungry cooking competitions, you'll have plenty of opportunities this fall to behold the maiden voyages of many a sinking ship. There is plenty of abysmal to go around. Don't you fret.
But if you're looking for spiffy editing and greatness, Shonda Rhimes has you covered. ABC widened the lanes on the ShondaLand Get Money Expressway and has granted her free reign over Thursday nights via a three-hour programming block. Her much-deserved primetime takeover, Thank Gods It's Thursday, kicks off tonight, and the powers that be hope to recreate yesteryear's Miller/Boyett reign here in the Age of Obama, one hashtag at a time.
Fan favorites Grey's Anatomy (11th season) and Scandal (4th season) are back to yank your heartstrings out of your chest. We will soon learn the fates of the beleaguered Meredith Grey and the absconded Olivia Pope, two powerful women who've both arrived at major crossroads in their respective lives. Stay? Go? Stay gone? You can bet your favorite jockstrap that social media will be ablaze with viewers predicting and (over)emoting the night away, as expected, realizing ABC's vision of harnessing the power of Twitter to strike ratings gold. Again.
Tonight is special, though. Tonight, during the third hour of TGIT, we meet law professor Annalise Keating, played by two-time Oscar nominee Viola Davis in How To Get Away With Murder. This legal thriller is a beautiful vehicle for allowing Viola the Great room to showcase the full range of her brilliance. Finally, she gets to be the Beyoncé rather than the LaTavia. Expect great clothes and oodles of snappy monologues. Count me in.
So why is ABC giving Shonda Rhimes the keys to the Thursday-night kingdom?
Because she gets it. The unforeseen success of Scandal, thanks in large part to social media, has proven the power of the ShondaLand brand. Starting with the infectious #WhoShotFitz hashtag, social media has latched onto this show, catapulting it into the stratosphere (and inevitable syndication). Now, cast members and writing staff live-tweet the action, watching and engaging with fans. Stylists answer questions about Olivia's wardrobe. ABC's social media-driven #TGIT campaign is the natural progression of such feverish beginnings.
With a decade of primetime hits and misses under her belt, Rhimes is a master at creating bustling content, hooking viewers emotionally, and assaulting the senses with just the right amounts the saccharine and the stomach turning. Her characters—whether gladiators, doctors, or otherwise—are cocktails made with equal parts ridiculous, despicable, and histrionic. And, I'm invested. Somehow, I am rooting for torturers and wishing gout upon surgeons.
Plus, her casts are as diverse as America itself. Nonwhite characters like Scandal's Papa Pope and Grey's Anatomy's Cristina Yang aren't black jerks and Asian jerks; they're just jerks who happen to be black or Asian. TIME calls this "casual diversity." I call it "reality." Whatever.
And there is also a lot of humping.
Specifics on what we can expect from Rhimes' trifecta this season are scare, but with her at the helm, they will all surely be jamdamnpacked with all that trademark straight-faced treachery, power whispering, and plot twisty goodness. So prepare the side eyes and replenish the wine: lies, fairy tales, and rushed sex cometh.