Shonda Rhimes is sick of the phrase ‘strong female leads’ and to be honest, she’s got a point

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  • ''Women' are not a TV trend'

    Even if you’ve never heard of Shonda Rhimes, you’ll definitely have taken a trip to Shondaland before. The veteran TV producer is the brains behind powerhouses such as Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder – all great character driven shows that have made a huge impact. So when she took to Twitter to blast the entertainment industry for marginalising female characters, people sat up and listened.

    Yesterday night, Shonda tweeted, ‘Okay. Entertainment industry, time to stop using the phrases “Smart Strong Women” and “Strong Female Leads”. There are no Dumb Weak Women. A smart strong woman is just a WOMAN. Also? “Women” are not a TV trend — we’re half the planet.’

    Given that Rhimes’ popular shows are led by some incredible characters such as Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope, Viola Davis’ Annalise Keating and Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey, she’s played a major hand in how women are portrayed onscreen. We’re sure many of her characters have been called ‘strong female leads’ before, however the act of specifying that a woman is ‘smart’ or ‘strong’ implicitly suggests that it’s out of the ordinary for women to be so. And well, we ALL know that’s not true.

    You’ll hardly hear leading men referred to as ‘smart strong men’ and to be honest, it’s a little condescending. While male characters are celebrated for their complexity, there’s less of a focus on the nuanced portrayals of women onscreen beyond the ‘strong’ moniker.

    Case in point: sit down and watch Brie Larson in Room as she struggles to overcome her traumatic experience. She’s all at once driven, broken, powerful, resourceful and loving – a portrayal that scored her an Oscar for the performance.


    Just give us well-written women. Women burning with defiance, women who would rather slink into the background, women who fall madly in love at the drop of a hat, women who women who feel too deeply and women who weave global conspiracies with confidence.

    To be honest, now that Shonda Rhimes’ production company has been commissioned to produce original content for Netflix – we probably won’t have to wait too long. Bring on the TV marathons.

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