Rachel Paige
October 09, 2014 1:03 pm

Welcome one, welcome all to the craziest, strangest, most amazing TV thrill ride of your life. Your admission to Shondaland includes only the most hair raising scenarios, death defying feats and heart pounding confessions. You will laugh, cry, and probably gasp anywhere from 3-7 times during each episode.

Shonda Rhimes has a monopoly over Thursday nights, and we love it. It all started simply with Grey’s Anatomy, which is currently in its eleventh season. From there, Scandal was born four seasons ago, and just this season, How To Get Away With Murder joined the ever-growing family. Even though Rhimes’ three-show Thursday night lineup (affectionately dubbed by ABC “Thank God It’s Thursday”) premiered a few weeks ago, it’s not too late to dive right into the crazy, wonderful world of Shondaland. Here’s what you need to know:

WHAT ARE THE BASICS OF ALL THREE SHOWS? 

Grey’s Anatomy: Traveling back to 2005, we first meet Grey’s Anatomy. Yes, it’s a show about interns, and doctors and residents, but it’s so much more than just a hospital drama. It’s a drama about people who happen to work in the hospital and how their lives all intertwine with one another. They fall in love, they break up, they enjoy happy moments together, and they stick together during the bad ones. It does seem, though, that with every life brought into Seattle Grace Hospital a bunch of people have to go, but that’s just the circle of life. Grey’s Anatomy has also given us one of the best representations of female friendship to date. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and Christina Yang (Sandra Oh) are each other’s person. That is literally the sweetest thing one best friend can say to the other best friend.


Scandal: 
Next, comes Scandal. While it might have started off as a completely over-the-top political thriller/romance, it has grown into so much more than that. Scandal is one very smart show. There’s no use even trying to guess what might happen next on the show, because it is impossible to predict ANYTHING. That’s how good Scandal is. It continuously makes you gasp and makes your head hurt, at the same time.

Scandal has also given us the impeccably flawless Olivia Pope, as played by the excellent Kerry Washington.  If that’s not enough, The show is actually inspired by a real person: Judy Smith, who worked under George W. Bush, and left the White House to open up a crisis management firm (just like Olivia!). In between fixing the lives of others, Smith also manages to live-tweet Scandal So check her out on Twitter while you’re watching the show.

How to Get Away With Murder: The last in the Shondaland Trilogy is HTGAWM. Once again, we get a strong female in the lead — Academy Award nominee Viola Davis — and though we are only two episodes into its run, you know we’re all in it for the long haul. Davis plays Annalise Keating, a professor who’s teaching a class called “How To Get Away With Murder.” And yes, there’s one, if not two, actual murders in the pilot alone. The writing is whip smart, and it’s got a slew of familiar faces. Liza Weil, aka Gilmore Girls’ Paris Geller, plays one of Annalise’s assistants. Matt McGorry (OITNB‘s Bennett) and Alfred Enoch (Harry Potter’s Dean Thomas) both play students.

HTGAWM might rival Scandal with the OMFG factor by a mile. I mean, MAJOR SPOILER ALERT, you guys, they are literally trying to burn a body at the end of the first episode. Who does that? Oh right, Shonda does. Bow down to the queen of Thursday nights.


HOW CAN I CATCH UP ON SHOWS I’VE MISSED?

You can watch the last two episodes of all three shows on ABC’s website. If you want to take a tour of Scandal’s past seasons, you can totally do that over on Netlfix. The first three seasons are all available to stream online. Meanwhile, the first NINE seasons of Grey’s are available to stream on Netflix, too. But you can also feel confident jumping right in with the new episodes. You’ll probably want to backtrack once you’re hooked.

WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS TO WATCH THE LATEST EPISODES?

Watch live: TGIT is every Thursday night from 8 to 11. It all starts with Grey’s and ends with HTGAWM.

Live-tweet: It’s all about the hashtag, #TGIT. Or, #GREYSANATOMY/#GREYS. Scandal is pretty easy, because it’s just #SCANDAL. You can also use #MELLIE or #TEAMMELLIE depending on how you’re feeling that night, but you should always be on #TEAMMELLIE. I do not suggest trying to tweet #HowToGetAwayWithMurder because that only leaves you 117 characters to share your feelings of OMFG. #HTGAWM works better.

Play games and snack: If you are of the legal drinking age, please feel free to participate in one of the #TGIT drinking games. If that’s not your style, make a plate of nachos (Grey’s) or pop some popcorn (Scandal). We don’t yet know what HTGAWM’s comfort food of choice will be.

ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW?

Forewarning, Shonda loves to play with our heartstrings. How so? I’d list off all the characters killed off on Grey’s Anatomy, but that might take up too much space (that plane crash was the worst). Scandal killed off a big character at the start of last year, and let’s not forget how sometimes Scandal characters kill other characters. (How could you, Ballard??) I suggest not getting too attached to anyone on HTGAWM just yet, because you never know what might happen. None of these shows are for the faint of heart.

WHAT ELSE IS INCLUDED WITH THE PRICE OF MY ADMISSION?

Girl power. All three shows are deeply rooted in girl power, since all of them feature a strong female protagonist. It’s kind of amazing that ABC has dedicated three whole hours to one female producer and her three female-driven shows on the most important night of television. (Thursday night is the last night advertisers have to convince you to buy things during the weekend). In short, Shondaland is groundbreaking. So are you in, or what?

(Images via here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

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