The 2010s Were A Golden Age for Black Women on TV
Female-driven storytelling dominated the small screen
In April of last year, audiences were left awestruck after watching the penultimate scene of Scandal’s series finale. The Shondaland golden child project, rising to fame for its otherness in storytelling and triumphant casting in Kerry Washington, wrapped up its seven-season run by flashing forward into the futures of the show’s beloved characters. The flash-forwards are tied together by two young girls, in a time that we can infer as being the future, walking hand-in-hand through the National Portrait Gallery. They’re clearly heading toward an important figure immortalized in art.
In the final moments of the series, that figure is revealed. It’s Olivia Pope (Washington), who, in the portrait dons a crisp white shirt and belted turquoise ballgown skirt. Her facial expression mimics the “fixer” look we’ve come to revere over the past six years. Her face is also framed with perfectly moisturized 3c curls. Splashed in the background are the words that begin the preamble to the Constitution. The words “We the People” stand right next to Pope, almost equal in stature.
Indeed, we are the people.
The age of whitewashed television programming is far behind us.
We are sure to see an equally powerful and multilayered ending to How to Get Away With Murder, Scandal’s fellow Shonda Rhimes-run success. The show aired its midseason finale on November 21, with a surprise twist ending (no spoilers here) that left its loyal fans in an uproar on social media. The show, led by the incomparable Viola Davis as antihero Annalise Keating, is slated to end in Spring 2020.
These two shows, leaders in the powerhouse that is Shondaland Productions, represent the triumph that we have seen on television in this past decade. Under the wing of Shonda Rhimes, the 2010s has arguably been the decade of Black female representation in television. Her commitment and vision have changed the paradigm of a successful TV show. TV shows don’t need to be predominantly White to dominate in ratings. The age of whitewashed television programming is far behind us. Shonda showed ABC, and soon other networks and the industry as a…