Shonda Rhimes to teach online TV writing class

Shonda Rhimes cannot teach you how to be the next Shonda Rhimes. Her powers are wide-reaching, magical even, but she’s not a magician. The good news is your TV writing goals require you to be you, not the next person who already made it. If you’re a writer whose pen needs a little (or a lot) of guidance, Rhimes, unlike Sway, has the answers. The Shonda Rhimes MasterClass is a five-hour online TV writing class full of gems that the writer-showrunner-director-producer has collected from creating hit show after hit show, which ultimately led to a television empire.

For $90, the online class offers five hours of Rhimes teaching you to write, pitch and create a TV show. The creator of Private Practice, Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal will appear on video as she walks you through the steps of structure and the mechanics of storytelling. And if you’re going to be taught by a TV writer, you want the one ABC entrusted with its entire Thursday night lineup.

“I don’t believe in the phrase aspiring writer,” Rhimes says in the 50-second promotional video. “To me it’s just you’re a writer. Go write.” Rhimes says that a true writer, even with five kids commanding all of their attention, will find 10 minutes a day to write. Her message to prospective students is one of encouragement. “If you can write and people can find your script, they will be thrilled to have it,” she says. But forever the realist, she’s real about not everybody being built for the TV writing life. “If you can think of any other thing you want to be almost as much as being a television writer, go be it.”

Along with five hours of tools to help you write that show TV’s missing, students can download a workbook with supplemental materials and lesson recaps. She will also answer select questions, and there’s an option to upload videos to get feedback from the class. There’s no expiration date once you pay for the class, so you’re able to go at your own pace.

“To me, there’s something lovely about the fact that anybody who has $90 versus the $90,000 or whatever it costs to go to school, can take this class,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “We talk about trying to normalize the industry and talk about finding ways to give everybody a chance and more education, and it feels like this is a nice way to be able to make it possible for a lot more people to find a way in.”

Television is having a moment right now. Stories centering non-white and queer folks are being greenlit on primetime, cable and premium channels. Other creators used YouTube to broadcast their webseries, built a following and networks came to them.

In the same interview with Entertainment Weekly, Rhimes says one of the things she really enjoyed was breaking down the Scandal pilot in parts. It’s possible students will get to see at least one of her pilots.

“One of the great parts was that I got to sit with some students and we reverse-engineered the pilot of Scandal, which means we broke it down into its parts, and I discussed how I built the show, how I built the pilot episode,” she said. “And for me, that was really gratifying because it was a way of being able to explain why you do what you do, how you structure something. I also explained places where I made mistakes, and where I could see where my mistakes were, and explain why I made them, and how I correct them now — or even if I didn’t know how to correct them at this point.”

This is the woman who created one of TV’s greatest female characters to ever exist — Cristina Yang. Need we say more?