New York Times Calls Shonda Rhimes an 'Angry Black Woman'

New York Times Calls Shonda Rhimes an 'Angry Black Woman'

TV titan slams the newspaper for stereotyping her.

Published September 19, 2014

Shonda Rhimes has a bone to pick with the New York Times. The storied newspaper caused an uproar by referring to the TV titan — who created primetime hits Grey's AnatomyPrivate Practice and Scandal and executive produces the upcoming drama How to Get Away With Murder — as an "angry Black woman."

Writes the Times, "When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman. Ms. Rhimes has embraced the trite but persistent caricature of the Angry Black Woman, recast it in her own image and made it enviable. She has almost single-handedly trampled a taboo even Michelle Obama couldn’t break."

Furthermore, the piece calls Viola Davis, who stars in How to Get Away With Murder, “less classically beautiful.” 

"As Annalise, Ms. [Viola] Davis, 49, is sexual and even sexy, in a slightly menacing way, but the actress doesn’t look at all like the typical star of a network drama," the articles says. "Ignoring the narrow beauty standards some African-American women are held to, Ms. Rhimes chose a performer who is older, darker-skinned and less classically beautiful than Ms. [Kerry] Washington, or for that matter Halle Berry, who played an astronaut on the summer mini-series Extant."

Rhimes has clapped back at the newspaper, both for their narrow view of her career and for the lack of research backing the article. "Confused why @nytimes critic doesn't know identity of CREATOR of show she's reviewing. [Peter Nowak] did u know u were 'an angry black woman'?" Rhimes tweeted, pointing out that while she is the executive producer of Murder, it was indeed created by Nowak. "Apparently we can be 'angry black women' together, because I didn't know I was one either!@petenowa #LearnSomethingNewEveryday." 

Rhimes continues her Twitter rant by pointing out the fact that her characters come from diverse backgrounds and are not just Black women. "Final thing: (then I am gonna do some yoga): how come I am not 'an angry Black woman' the many times Meredith (or Addison!) rants?"

Two of Rhimes' Scandal stars, Joshua Malina and Bellamy Young, hopped to her defense on Twitter. "Wow. Did I just read a @nytimes piece that reduced my brilliant, creative, compassionate, thoughtful, bada-- boss to an 'angry black woman?'" tweeted Malina, while Young wrote, 
"IDK wt 2say when I read it!Some food 4thought, but mostly deeply upsetting. I was shocked. Maybe I don't get something?"

The author of the article, Alessandra Stanley, is standing by her words. She tells Buzzfeed, “the whole point of the piece — once you read past the first 140 characters — is to praise Shonda Rhimes for pushing back so successfully on a tiresome but insidious stereotype.”

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(Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for DGA)

Written by Evelyn Diaz

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