What a $154 Disneyland Ticket Snub Showed the Most Powerful Woman in Television

‘Don’t you have enough?’ an ABC executive asked the legendary writer-producer-showrunner Shonda Rhimes

Indrani Sen
Published in
3 min readOct 22, 2020


Shonda Rhimes.
Shonda Rhimes attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 24, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. Photo: Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic/Getty Images

It might sound petty.

The legendary writer-producer-showrunner Shonda Rhimes was making tens of millions, and her prime-time shows — Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder — were blockbuster successes, reviving the fortunes of her parent network, ABC. Sure, Rhimes was tiring of the constant battles with her employer, according to a new interview in The Hollywood Reporter. But it was a small snub from an executive over a $154 Disneyland day pass that was the last straw.

As Lacey Rose writes in THR, Rhimes was entitled to two Disneyland passes as a perk of her employment. She had asked for an additional pass for her sister, who wanted to take her children and their nanny to the park for a day while Rhimes was working:

After some unwanted back-and-forth — “We never do this,” she was told more than once — Rhimes was issued an additional pass. But when her daughters arrived in Anaheim, only one of the passes worked. Rhimes lobbed a call to a high-ranking executive at the company. Surely, he would get this sorted.

Instead, the exec allegedly replied, “Don’t you have enough?”

Rhimes was beside herself. She thanked him for his time, then hung up and called her lawyer: Figure out a way to get her over to Netflix, or she’d find new representatives.

The rest, as they say, is history: Rhimes inked a paradigm-shifting $150-million deal with Netflix, changing the TV landscape forever.

So why the fuss over an amusement park ticket that Rhimes could have easily afforded? It was far more than a meaningless tantrum. Despite her well-earned exalted status at ABC, the microaggression that Rhimes experienced showed her exactly where she stood in the company she had helped revive. That’s vital information.

The incident brings to mind the famous “no brown M&Ms” clause on the rider for Van Halen’s 1982 world tour, which specified that the band wanted a bowl of the candy in their dressing rooms — with all the brown M&Ms…



Indrani Sen
Writer for

Editorial director at Medium, mom, gardener, cook. Formerly at Quartz.