Never Forget: Shonda Rhimes Wrote 'Crossroads'

by Mary Grace Garis

I want to be clear about this, so there's no mistaking: I find Britney Spears' Crossroads an ungodly, ridiculous piece of cinema. Fun to watch sheerly because of that, but, I mean it, as a movie it's pretty low-quality fare, even with all of Spears' star power. So imagine how mind-boggled I get when I remember that Crossroads was written by Shonda Rhimes, the creator of your favorite show to live-Tweet, Scandal, and your favorite show from 2005 that is STILL on the air (seriously?) Grey's Anatomy. Imagined how mind-boggled YOU are if you didn't already know that.

Well, it's true, and honestly? If you really squint, tilt your head, and repeat "I believe in Shondaland" three times, you'll start to see it. Crossroads is garnished with dashes (certainly not cups, but definite dashes) of Rhimes' signatures. Could it be that, underneath the cliched fluff of a pop star-fronted MTV-produced coming of age story, Crossroads could really be a smart, feminist film about complicated women with unique personalities?

Yeah, no, let's not get crazy. But I think this is worth looking into regardless. Here's a handful of blink-and-you'll-miss-em Rhimes signatures that you'll find in Crossroads, just in case you need to watch the movie again to believe Rhimes wrote this.

1. A strong woman of color is one of the three main protagonists.

Obviously blonde, midriff-bearing Spears gets to be front and center, because money, but Zoe Saldana puts on a bold performance as Kit. Though initially snobby and spoiled, she mellows out and puts her bad attitude to good use, not hesitating to punch her cheating fiancé in the face. She also has zero aversion to pink eyeshadow, which isn't really Olivia Pope-approved, but she works it.

2. It establishes that a woman has the choice to do what she wants with her body.

Despite the unfortunate circumstances that surround Mimi's pregnancy, she decides to keep the baby, and try to pursue her dream at the same time. Likewise, Lucy doesn't rush into losing her virginity; she chooses to wait (two weeks later, with some guy who breaks out his acoustic guitar at random). Anyway, that's something.

3. None of these leads are at all perfect... except Lucy. Lucy kind of is.

I mean, Lucy is deeply unhappy at the start of the film, but I don't think that takes away from the film's implication that she's going to be a beautiful, intelligent, rising star. Kit and Mimi, though? Kit has said attitude problem, and Mimi is a little... simple.

4. But more importantly, it features deeply imperfect parental figures, too.

Olivia and her dad have maaaaad drama, and nobody has an awesome relationship with their parents in Crossroads, too. Not only does Kit have faintly touched upon issues with a mother that's intimidated by her looks, Lucy runs away from home because she partially feels like her father's determining her life's ambitions. Not to mention her mother is Samantha Jones, and Samantha flat-out tells her that, you know, nothing personal, but she really didn't WANT to have a kid so young and had to run away.

5. It shows complex relationships between ladies.

The ultimate endgame message is one of "BFF," but there's a lot of fighting and judgement along the way.

6. It isn't afraid to tackle dark subject matter.

Oh my god, when a heart-to-heart reveals that Mimi was raped, I feel as if I've been taken from an adorable comedy about friendship and placed into a dark hole where I will probably not be rescued for at least a few episodes.

7. And above everything else, it wasn't afraid to cruelly and unnecessarily to kill off a significant character.

I.e. when Mimi loses her baby, and I feel like I will never know sunshine again. Dammit, Crossroads, the feels.

Images: MTV (1); Giphy (7)