Shonda Rhimes is The First African-American Woman Showrunner to Hit the 100-Episode Milestone Three Times

Tonight’s episode of Scandal is a milestone for a couple of reasons. One, it will be the 100th episode of the popular political thriller to air. Two, with Scandal, Shonda Rhimes will surpass female showrunners among her as someone with three series that have hit the 100-episode milestone. Before Scandal, Rhimes has achieved the feat with her series Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. It is a very exclusive club to be in, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, is one that is notably occupied by predominantly white males like Dick Wolf, Norman Lear, and Chuck Lorre.

There have been some notable female showrunners in the past, but by all accounts, the presence of women is still very slim in comparison to male showrunners. Friends showrunner Marta Kauffman accomplished the 100-episode milestone twice with her series Dream On. Carol Black, showrunner for The Wonder Years and Ellen, also hit the milestone twice.

CSI showrunners Carol Mendelsohn and Ann Donahue accomplished the 100-episode milestone with three series through their work on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its spinoffs CSI: Miami and CSI: New York.

Showrunner and creator Mara Brock Akil was able to do it twice with her hit series Girlfriends and The Game and, with another show, she might have taken the cake as the first black female showrunner. But, Rhimes has won the gold in the end for that title with her three series as the first African-American woman showrunner to reach the centennial mark.

Rhimes told The Hollywood Reporter exclusively in a statement: “I don’t think I’ve really thought about it until we were standing there at the 100th episode celebration with the cake and everything. I truly didn’t realize it. I don’t know if it’s a milestone because I’m a woman or a milestone because I’m an African-American woman — it’s America, so everything is a milestone if you’re an African-American woman it seems. But it does feel fun that we get to do these shows and get here and the fans are following. Obviously there’s storytelling that’s universal and storytelling that people like and women who have stories that are compelling and I like that people are watching them.”

Scandal’s star and achievement-holder in her own right, Kerry Washington chimed in with praise of Rhimes and the series’ incredible triumph, saying, “It’s very historic. Shonda is a boss, bad-ass beast and I’m so happy to be living in her queendom.”

Tune in for the 100th episode of Scandal airing tonight on ABC at 9 p.m.

Sheriden Chanel is a twenty-something writer, Beyoncé enthusiast, and lover of all things visual art. Keep up with her and her musings on social via @indiebyline.

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