TV & Movies

10 Years Later, The Spirit Of Shondaland’s TGIT Lives On

While Grey’s Anatomy is still premiering new seasons, it’s the last bastion of the buzzy, Thursday-night lineup.

From 'Grey's Anatomy' To 'Bridgerton', Shondaland's TGIT Turns 10

It’s a cozy Thursday night. You’ve nearly made it through another week of work or school. You’re getting snacks sorted because Grey’s Anatomy is on ABC, and then Scandal, and then How to Get Away with Murder. You’ve been hyped for tonight since you saw a promo of Kerry Washington, Ellen Pompeo, and Viola Davis sharing wine and popcorn. You might even log onto Twitter to share your thoughts, with the hashtag #TGIT. You won’t be turning off the TV for three hours.

“It’s like, I’m going to be here and I just have to plan bathroom breaks,” recalls Betsy Beers, Shonda Rhimes’ longtime producing partner at Shondaland, the company behind those ABC shows and newer hits like Bridgerton.

The programming block known as TGIT (Thank God It’s Thursday) officially began 10 years ago, when How to Get Away with Murder made its Thursday-night debut, joining Shondaland mainstays Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal for a night of legal, medical, and political thrills. As one July 2014 tweet from ABC put it, the lineup promised to be “the total trifecta of twisty, tweetable drama.”

And TGIT Twitter was an event unto itself. The earnest watch party menus and posts from the stars made it feel like you were part of a special, in-the-know club — and ratings proved that many, many people had memberships.

Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, Shonda Rhimes, and Ellen Pompeo in 2015.Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

“Darby Stanchfield was my coach, and would sit next to me and just kind of go ‘OK, here. Type this,’” Beers says of the Scandal Twitter parties, where the cast would tweet along with the weekly twists and turns.

The producer, by her own admission, awkwardly kept up with the commotion online, but it was no sweat for the committed cast. “Kerry was really patient [with helping me tweet]. They were all really lovely,” she says.

“It’s this amazing thing when you actually can watch so many people react with enthusiasm, and sometimes theories,” Beers continues. “You’re generating conversation, and you’re creating a sense of community outside your immediate group. It’s an honor.”

Then there were the promos. In one particularly memorable spot, Pompeo, Washington, and Davis strutted down the hallways of their respective TV workplaces before sitting down to toast to TGIT. They were no longer in character, but fans themselves, about to partake in the sacred Thursday-night tradition.

The promos became such integral parts of the TGIT fabric that, years later, viewers still remember them — like one user on X (formerly Twitter), who said Beyoncé’s new song “YA YA” would’ve perfectly fit into a TGIT teaser, and edited a mockup to prove it.


Looking back, Beers describes the heyday of TGIT as a “surreal” experience. “[It was] just this amazing moment of excitement and validation for what it was we were doing,” she says. “I don’t remember the last time a producing team, certainly two women, had an entire night of television.”

While Grey’s lives on — the show’s 21st season debuts this fall — it’s the last bastion of the original TGIT lineup. (Scandal took its final bow in 2018, followed by How to Get Away with Murder two years later.) As Rhimes recently told Variety, it was an “exhausting” period. “I loved the storytelling. But I feel like it almost killed me,” she said. “It was too much. Getting to slow down was probably the best thing for my creativity.”

Betsy Beers and Shonda Rhimes attend Netflix's Bridgerton Season 3 World Premiere.Arturo Holmes/WireImage/Getty Images

These days, following Shondaland’s move from ABC to Netflix, Rhimes and Beers’ biggest collaboration is Bridgerton. And while the Regency romance has no ties to TGIT, it feels like a natural progression of that legacy — a community-forward viewing experience that encouragess theories and reactions online.

“There’s nothing better than fans engaging,” Beers says. “Sometimes fans love what you do, and sometimes fans don’t love what you do. But as far as I’m concerned, if they’re watching, they’re talking about it.”

And oh, they’re watching. While TGIT’s fandom was built week to week, Bridgerton’s exploded upon its 2020 debut. “I remember somebody calling me from London and going, Do you know what’s going on? I had no idea!” Beers recalls. “It’s a different kind of amazing feeling when something launches all over the world at once.”

It was fitting when Season 3 returned on a Thursday this year, a serendipitous moment fans were quick to celebrate. “Shonda Rhimes has revived the spirit of #TGIT with this new season of #BRIDGERTON,” one fan wrote on X. “Her power? Her impact?”