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Every Shonda Rhimes Drama, Ranked by Metacritic

On the 10th anniversary of 'Scandal,' we look where that show falls in comparison to powerhouse producer Shonda Rhimes' other dramas when ranked by Metascore.
by Cynthia Paez Bowman, Danielle Turchiano — 
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From left to right: Ellen Pompeo in 'Grey's Anatomy' and Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor in 'Bridgerton'

ABC / Netflix

Shonda Rhimes has become one of the most prolific television producers in the last decade and a half and has been named one of Time's Top 100 Most Influential People multiple times, including most recently in 2021.

Rhimes got her start writing shorter-term projects, including the original television movie Introducing Dorothy Dandridge in 1999 and the feature films Crossroads in 2002 and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement in 2004. But in 2005 she took the television world by storm with Grey's Anatomy, a broadcast, hospital-set drama that is only part medical procedural. (The other part is complex relationship drama.) Grey's Anatomy has aired on ABC ever since, nabbing a few Emmy Awards along the way, and spawning two spin-offs, Private Practice and Station 19.

Rhimes also launched her Shondaland shingle in 2005, and although she had her hands full with Grey's, she didn't stop at one successful genre. In 2012, Scandal premiered, which expanded her storytelling empire from the medical world to the legal/political one. That opened the door for How to Get Away With Murder in 2014 and For the People in 2018.

Rhimes and Shondaland had a dedicated Thursday night primetime programming block on ABC starting in 2014, with a marketing campaign called "Thank God It's Thursday," better known as #TGIT, referring to how much the audience loved her shows — and more specifically, had to watch them right when they aired or risk being spoiled on major plot twists and reveals.

Along the way, Rhimes and her company also dabbled in more overt relationship dramas (Still Star-Crossed in 2017), as well. That experience in period romance paved the way for Bridgerton, which was Rhimes' first scripted series under her Netflix deal, in 2020. That same year she also executive produced a documentary for the streamer focused on Shondaland's longtime collaborator Debbie Allen's dance company and annual holiday event, titled Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker.

Although Shondaland shows that are co-produced by ABC Studios and originated on ABC Network still continue to air there, her Netflix deal, first signed in 2017 and expanded in 2021, has her creating all of her new original content for the streaming service. This includes her first limited series, Inventing Anna, and her upcoming White House murder mystery The Residence.

Here, Metacritic ranks every Shondaland scripted drama, from worst to best, based on Metascore.


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'Still Star-Crossed'

Jose Haro / Getty Images

Still Star-Crossed

Metascore: 45
Best for: Fans of love triangle fans and period dramas, those who want a look at life after Romeo and Juliet
Seasons: 1
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes

The family drama and rivalry between the Montague and Capulets didn't end with Romeo and Juliet's death. This 2017 drama series imagines life after the star-crossed lovers die, with plenty of intrigue and plotting, still. Juliet's cousin marries a Montague to squash the feud (unsuccessfully) with plenty of complications and plots afoot. Unfortunately, there was only one season of Still Star-Crossed. Much like the story of Romeo and Juliet, you're left wondering what could have been and what happened to the characters you met in the seven episodes.

"Despite the vast population of figures from the play, this isn't a show aimed at Shakespeare scholars; a mere passing acquaintance with Romeo and Juliet will do." — Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times


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'Private Practice'

Danny Feld / Getty Images

Private Practice

Metascore: 45
Best for: Anyone interested in medical-drama light with some humor
Seasons: 6
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, , iTunes,

This 2007-2013 spin-off of the prolific Grey's Anatomy follows Dr. Addison Forbes Montgomery (Kate Walsh), a neonatal surgeon at Seattle Grace, when she decides to take her career path to sunnier places, namely beachside Santa Monica, Calif., to join a Los-Angeles-area private practice. Other cast members include Taye Diggs and Benjamin Bratt, who becomes Walsh's love interest in the series. So naturally, just like its predecessor, the show mixes medical drama with soapy romance.

"It's hard to imagine reinventing the concept of the doctor show. But in a way, that's what Private Practice sets out to do...and it doesn't do a bad job." — David Hinckley, Daily News


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'Off the Map'

Mario Perez / Getty Images

Off the Map

Metascore: 49
Best for: Cross-border adventurers, medical drama fans
Seasons: 1
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, iTunes,

This 2011 drama only last one season, but it takes a fresh take at the medical genre by moving the setting to a jungle clinic, run by Ben (Martin Henderson), in the middle of South America. At first, the doctors believe they are moving to paradise, only to realize after arriving that there are plenty of limitations and challenges in such a setting. As they work in the jungle, they struggle with their own personal issues, the dynamics among each other, and their surroundings, which makes them think harder about why they do what they do.

"In true Grey's fashion, each newbie is challenged with a case that dredges up the personal issues that brought them to this isolated spot, where, according to Ben, it's like practicing medicine in 1952 in a Third World country.— Mark A. Perigard, The Boston Herald


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'Station 19'

ABC

Station 19

Metascore: 55
Best for: Firehouse drama and action series lovers
Seasons: 5 (so far)
Where to watch: 

, , Google Play, , iTunes,

There are plenty of legal dramas, police shows and shows that revolve around a hospital. Station 19 is unique for Shondaland in that it's about a Seattle firehouse and the men and women stationed there. There is plenty of personal drama going on in this series that began in 2018 as the second Grey's Anatomy spin-off, but the first responders are true heroes in their community, making sacrifices and risking their lives to save others, and that is a heavy emotional through line that tugs on heartstrings episode after episode. 

"The new drama dials down the heightened emotions and quicksilver banter that are hallmarks of the Rhimes brand for a sturdier, subtler story." — Sonia Saraia, Variety


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'Inventing Anna'

Netflix

Inventing Anna 

Metascore: 57
Best for: Fans of stories inspired by real life, those who want a look into high society, the jetset and the social climbers that surround them 
Seasons: 1
Where to watch: Netflix

You may have heard about a young woman convicted on charges of attempted grand larceny, larceny in the second degree, and theft of services after she posed as a German heiress, obtaining loans from banks and staying in fancy hotels without paying between 2013 and 2017. The 2022 limited series Inventing Anna dramatizes her antics and what led her to become a pseudo-celebrity from behind bars. The story is based on fact — at least what journalist Jessica Pressler, who also executive produces the series, was able to validate in order to publish. But it gives space to those around the titular Anna Delvey (Julia Garner), too, which proves that truth can be objective. By the time it's all said and done, Anna may grow on you, causing you to question who's really the bad guy and maybe even hoping she pulls off the grift.

"In telling a story about a complicated woman through the lens of another complicated woman, Rhimes builds a lot of nuance into the narrative, ensuring the show's escape from quick and easy judgment." — Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence


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'The Catch'

Scott Everett White / Getty Images

The Catch

Metascore: 59
Best for: Those interested in solving an ongoing mystery, fans of revenge stories
Seasons: 2
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, , iTunes,

The irony of The Catch is that a savvy private investigator, played by Mireille Enos, gets scammed out of all her money by her ex-fiancé, played by Peter Krause. She's determined to hunt him down and make him pay for what he did. But is she really pressed to do so? There are moments in which you wonder if she is enjoying the game more than actually catching him. The back and forth between the pair makes for a fun, modern cat-and-mouse game of who will outsmart the other. The show lasted two seasons, originally premiering in 2016, so it's also a fairly quick binge.

"Everything about The Catch suggests that getting even beats moping, that sunlight beats gloom and doom, and that some girls just want to have fun on Thursday nights." — Ellen Gray, Philadelphia Daily News


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'For the People'

Mitch Haaseth / Getty Images

For the People

Metascore: 60
Best for: Viewers who enjoy fast and witty legal dramas and courtroom showdowns
Seasons: 2
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, , iTunes, ,

For the People shares a look at the jobs of prosecutors and defenders in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) Federal Court — and life for the young attorneys outside of work. Unlike other legal dramas, you'll see both sides of a case (how both the prosecutors and defense team fight for justice) in this two-season drama that originally aired from 2018-19. Of note, Allison (played by Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Sandra (Britt Robertson) are roommates who work for the Federal Public Defender's Office. However, there are other relationships, including romantic ones, that add to the show's complicated layers, as well. It also stars powerhouses including Anna Deavere Smith and Hope Davis, and a pre-Bridgerton Regé-Jean Page.

"Don't go into For the People expecting the sensationalist procedural melodrama often associated with the Shondaland brand and you might find yourself appreciating the simple pleasures of a deep ensemble cast delivering reams of clever dialogue and grappling superficially with the legal issues of the day." — Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter


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'Grey's Anatomy'

ABC

Grey's Anatomy

Metascore: 64
Best for: Lovers of medical dramas, dark humor, and binge-watching for days
Seasons: 18 (so far)
Where to watch: 

, , Google Play, , iTunes, Netflix,

Grey's Anatomy will go down in history as one of the longest medical dramas, with 18 seasons and counting. The show that began in 2005 revolves on the employees at a fictional a Seattle hospital, with all the medical emergencies you can think of and plenty of twists and turns. One such example is the case of a patient with a loaded gun she tried smuggling in her vagina. Although Ellen Pompeo is the lead as Dr. Meredith Grey, the supporting cast is just as crucial to the series. It is the relationships between the doctors, and the doctors and their patients, that make up the bulk of the stories, after all. Many actors have come and gone, such as Sandra Oh, Isaiah Washington, and Patrick Dempsey, but there is always new (and often timely) drama right around the corner.

"Grey's Anatomy pokes at the culture of misogyny that runs through so much of show business by telling stories through the female gaze." — Eric Deggans, NPR


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'Scandal'

Nicole Wilder / Getty Images

Scandal

Metascore: 66
Best for: Mystery and thriller lovers, Kerry Washington fans, political drama queens (and kings)
Seasons: 7
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, , iTunes,

Scandal put its leading lady Washington front and center as a rising star when the series first premiered in 2012, earning her her first Emmy nomination for the performance in 2013. The series follows Washington's Olivia Pope, a fixer who solves or covers up scandals for D.C. politicians and other power players through her crisis management firm, Olivia Pope & Associates. As if the troubles of D.C.'s elite isn't enough to keep you hooked, the story also ties into the White House. Tony Goldwyn plays President Fitzgerald Grant III, with whom Olivia is having an affair. As the seasons go on, the crises get more personal and much messier, involving Olivia's parents, Fitz's kids, and a secret government agency.

"[Scandal] tackled the impact of racism, treated same-sex marriage and abortion as commonplace and was revolutionary in the history of TV: Washington was the first African-American actress cast in the lead role in a drama for 38 years." — Diane Shipley, The Guardian


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'How To Get Away With Murder'

Mitch Haaseth / Getty Images

How to Get Away With Murder

Metascore: 68
Best for: Legal drama and thriller lovers
Seasons: 6
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, iTunes, Netflix,

Viola Davis stars as Annalise Keating, a law professor who teaches a class informally called "How to Get Away With Murder" in this six-season drama that began in 2014. She enlists her brightest students to help her at the firm with defense cases, but they end up sucked into complex murder mysteries, too. The methods used aren't always the most orthodox to solve the crimes at hand, but they get the job done in an entertaining way. Davis won several awards for her performance, becoming the first Black female to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, as well as two Screen Actors Guild awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series.

"The point is clear: it's not about the law, but the most creative way to defend your client." — Brian Tallerico, Roger Ebert


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'Bridgerton'

Netflix

Bridgerton

Metascore: 73
Best for: Fans of love triangles, period pieces and gorgeous Regency Era costumes and sets  
Seasons: 2 (so far)
Where to watch: Netflix

Bridgerton follows high society in London during the Regency Era to bring you a look into the marriage-matching season for debutantes. Young ladies (and their moms) spend most of the time strategizing how to catch the eye of the best possible candidate for a husband. Unrequited love and steamy, stolen moments will keep you engaged in the storylines, which are based on Julia Quinn's novel series of the same title. Plus, there's a mysterious Lady Whistledown (narrated by Julie Andrews) who reports all the gossip of what's happening during the courting season. What may be most poignant about Bridgerton is the inclusive nature of the society: The queen herself is Black — and beloved by the King and her court.

"The old-newness of Bridgerton is a kind of statement in itself. On the one hand, this is not your great-great-great grandmother's Regency romance. On the other, it suggests that maybe your great-great-great grandmother was not as different from you as you think." — James Poniewozik, The New York Times