Whenever New York Times error machine Alessandra Stanley wasn't reducing ABC superproducer Shonda Rhimes to an "angry black woman" in her shocking, garish, racist column from last Friday, she was spewing a lot of other nonsense. But she also – in a similar fashion to how a blind squirrel finds an acorn – hit on an interesting discussion for smarter people. Namely: Who gets the credit if How to Get Away with Murder succeeds?
Stanely mistakenly referred to Murder as primarily Rhimes' show in her column, saying that star Viola Davis' character Annalise Keating was created by Rhimes in her own image. As Rhimes herself pointed out on Twitter, the show was created by Pete Nowalk, who has worked on both Grey's Anatomy and Scandal under Rhimes. The latter is acting as a guiding executive producer, but it's Nowalk's show.
This hasn't been the easiest concept to grasp – even Viola Davis, the star of How to Get Away with Murder, has called it a Rhimes show. ABC is also drawing the comparison – they released a video to promote the new "all-Shonda" Thursday block of programming featuring Rhimes sitting down and talking with Grey's and Scandal stars Ellen Pompeo and Kerry Washington, plus Davis.
Nowalk's style in Murder is highly reminiscent of his mentor's. It's not a stretch to guess that others beyond Stanley will make this mistake, even and especially as Murder becomes a success. And I'd wager most of that success will be chalked up to Rhimes' guiding hand.