Yet Another Reason to Love Shonda Rhimes

by Kadeen Griffiths

It wasn't enough that she gave us Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. It wasn't enough that she has her own TGIT block on Thursdays that is just three hours of Shonda Rhimes-y goodness. It's not enough that she called out the New York Times article about the angry black woman stereotype that her characters — and herself — had more than transcended in the greatest way possible. Oh, no, none of that was enough for her. On Sunday, Rhimes shut down a homophobic comment on Twitter in a moment that was so epic that anyone who wasn't already a fan of hers should definitely board the train to Shondaland right now.

As far as homophobic comments go, this one was pretty tame. The Twitter user complained about the sheer number of love scenes between homosexual characters that occurred on her shows: "The gay scenes in Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder are too much. There is no point and they add nothing to the plot." It was, as far as such comments go, pretty constructive criticism. After all, there are numerous love scenes on television shows that really contribute nothing to the plot aside from titillating viewers. However, Rhimes caught the problematic aspect of this criticism quick and tweeted her response.

Insert applause GIF here because, yet again, Rhimes has said it best. The romantic scenes between two characters of the same gender aren't "gay scenes" nor are they there to be pointless and gratuitous. They are there because every show, especially dramas, are full of romantic scenes between people and it should not be noticeable when two of those people happen to be of the same gender. It shouldn't be a cause for complaint that there are too many scenes showing same-sex couples hooking up when it is rarely, if ever, a cause for complaint that there are too many scenes of heterosexual couples hooking up. If you're not willing to throw a blanket complaint over love scenes featuring all couples of every gender and sexuality, then you're being more than a little intolerant.

For Rhimes to refer to the so-called "gay scenes" in her shows as "scenes with people in them" instead is really powerful because it eliminates that otherness that same-sex couples so often fall into in the public perception. They are treated as something unique or unusual or different, which means that representation of them on television tends to range from nonexistent to shameless ratings-bait. With Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder, Rhimes and her fellow cowriters and cocreators are working hard to change that by giving us real characters with real flaws who fall in love and make mistakes just the same as their heterosexual friends and enemies. That alone is not pointless and should never be referred to as such.

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