Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Scandal creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes says producers of the ABC series to “ramp up the drama” for the second season. During a conversation on the series’ Hollywood set at the end of ABC’s portion of the TCA press tour, Rhimes held court on a sofa she shared with co-executive producers Betsy Beers and Judy Smith (the real-life White House “fixer” who inspired the lead character, Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope). Rhimes said the series needed to widen its scope because the new season will have 22 episodes instead of the short order of 7 that launched the series.
Rhimes said that for the second season the show initially received a 13-episode order and then got a back 9 order, so some story lines come to a logical conclusion within the 13 episodes. In the first season, “We expected to do 7 episodes” and then wondered “what the hell are we going to do next?” As with last season, Rhimes said the series will still have a “case of the week but then ramp up to the larger story we’re telling.”
Asked to speculate on the show’s breakout success, Rhimes said: “I don’t dare or bother to speculate. I’m just supposed to make the shows.” She added, however, that the success of Grey’s Anatomy gave producers “the capital” to take some risks with Scandal.
Rhimes said she doesn’t spend any time thinking about the fact that the show features a strong female lead of color. She added that she doesn’t think about it when writing any more than she thinks about being a strong female of color herself as she goes about her daily life. Asked whether she has broken any barriers in creating the series or the Olivia Pope character, Rhimes offered: “I have no idea. It would be nice to say no, but since you are asking the question, probably yes.”
Rhimes says she doesn’t care why people watch the show as long as they don’t describe it as a “guilty pleasure.” She said that phrase means “It’s crap but I can’t stop watching it.”