Shonda Rhimes was not pleased with Allesandra Stanley’s Thursday New York Times piece on How to Get Away With Murder. More specifically, she wasn’t pleased with Stanley’s declaration that Rhimes hasredefined the “angry black woman” stereotype through characters like Scandal‘s Olivia Pope and Grey’s Anatomy‘s Dr. Miranda Bailey.
“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,” writes Stanley, who goes on to make broad claims about black women on television from Phylicia Rashād’s Claire Huxtable to Nicole Beharie’s Lt. Abbie Mills (whom she calls a “sidekick”). Stanley even declares that Viola Davis, who stars in the Rhimes-produced How to Get Away With Murder, is “less classically beautiful” than some other black women on television, such as Kerry Washington and Halle Berry.
Not only did the article generate dozens of passionate think pieces, Rhimes decided to tweet out her own passionate response as well. Scandal‘s Josh Malina and Kerry Washington weighed in too.
Stanley issued a response to Buzzfeed. She said: “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.”