ABC president Channing Dungey has announced this afternoon the renewal of its ShondaNight Thursday primetime lineup, for new seasons: “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder” will return during the 2017-2018 TV season.
“‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ ‘Scandal’ and ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ continue to keep viewers on the edge of their seats and wanting more. I’m thrilled to bring back these shows and the OMG moments that come with them,” said Dungey.
Next season will be the 14th season of “Grey’s Anatomy,” the 7th season of “Scandal,” and the 4th season of “How To Get Away with Murder.”
So “Scandal” will live to fight for another season.
The network cut the number of episodes it ordered for the current 6th season of “Scandal” from 22 down to 16, and moved it to a mid-season run, leading to speculation that the series may have been in danger of being canceled. It was also rumored that the episode cut and the move were due to star Kerry Washington’s pregnancy (she was expecting her second child at the time of the announcement; she’s since given birth).
Others assumed that the show’s decline in ratings last season were to blame. Season 5 was “Scandal’s” weakest of the last 3 seasons in terms of ratings, with live viewership sinking from over 10 million for the first episode in September 2015, to just over 6 million for the season finale episode 8 months later – marking one of its lowest viewership draws in the history of the show.
But speaking with the AP last summer, Kerry Washington shared that the reason for the shortened season, and the move to a 2017 run, had nothing to do with her pregnancy. As she said, the decision to cut the number of episodes for the next season by about 27% was made before she told showrunner Shonda Rhimes that she was pregnant. The reason for the “downsizing,” per Washington, was that Rhimes knows what the story is that she wants to tell for the season, and how many episodes she needs to get it wherever she wants it to go. In effect, it’s a shortened season because the planned story dictates that it needs to be a shortened season. She doesn’t need 22 episodes; only 16. She’s being efficient.
Although Rhimes has said in the past that she knows exactly how and when “Scandal” will end, adding that it would be a 6 or 7-season series, at most. So of course as it currently happens to be the 6th season of the series, should we assume that “Scandal” is indeed near its end with today’s announcement of a renewal for a 7th season?
One more season may be just the right time to put it to bed, while Washington explores other projects under her new production deal with ABC (recall that she inked an overall deal with ABC Studios that will see her develop new projects for the network) which is now being led by a new president in Channing Dungey, who replaced exiting Paul Lee last year, making her the first African American – woman or man – to not only head ABC, but a major TV network.
Also Rhimes has other series to shepherd; soon to join veterans “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How to Get Away With Murder” are “The Catch” (which returns shortly), and the upcoming “Romeo & Juliet” project from Shondaland, “Still Star-Crossed,” which stars British actress Lashana Lynch.
Shondaland also sold 2 new potential series to ABC recently, and earlier this week, optioned Luvvie Ajayi’s book “I’m Judging You” as a comedy series, although for cable TV.
In addition, Rhimes is returning to her feature film *roots* (her breakthrough gig, we could say, was co-penning the script for the 1999 telepic “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge;” other early scripting credits include “Crossroads” and “The Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement”). Earlier last year, she was reportedly eyeing what will be a feature-length film, set up at Fox, about the so-called Dare Divas – a group of Detroit women, led by Sheri Hunter (who lost her husband), who have dedicated their lives to pursuing adventure and encouraging other women to also take risks.
Previously, she was attached to write the screenplay for a feature film titled “War Correspondents,” which was to center on women war correspondents, for Sony Pictures.
So she’s busy, in case it wasn’t already obvious. And dropping one series in “Scandal” (which seems to be losing its luster, for some of its fans anyway), may actually be a good thing, as she shifts focus to other projects.
But for now, “Scandal” will return for a 7th season; “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How to Get Away with Murder” are also renewed.