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Why Shonda Rhimes left TV for Netflix: ‘I love the creative freedom’

On the latest Recode Decode, Rhimes also talked about and why it’s okay to leave Twitter.

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TV producer Shonda Rhimes and Recode’s Kara Swisher at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

After creating the hit television shows “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder,” it seemed like superstar TV producer Shonda Rhimes could do whatever she wanted. But she couldn’t, because she was still on TV.

On the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, recorded at the 2017 Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit, Rhimes said she left ABC for an exclusive four-year deal at Netflix because the latter represents “an open road.” Although her six TV shows will continue at ABC, she and 30 of her colleagues from ShondaLand will be trying new things online, although she’s not explicitly saying what, yet.

“I love the creative freedom that’s available there,” Rhimes said. “There’s no restrictions. There’s no broadcast standards and practices. There’s no. ‘It has to be this long’ — I can make something that’s an hour and a half long, I can make something that’s 15 minutes long. There’s no, ‘We want to see more of this because that’s what you’ve done before.’”

You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On the new podcast, Rhimes also talked about ShondaLand’s new partnership with Hearst, producing lifestyle articles and other magazine-style content — but not beauty tips, she stressed — for

“As a business owner, people keep asking me, ‘What’s the goal, what’s the goal, what’s the goal?’” she said. “And when Hearst picked it up, people were saying, ‘That must have been the goal.’ There is no ‘goal,’ in that sense. The goal is to give people a voice. The goal is to have a voice out there that feels relevant and different and available.”

But embracing the web doesn’t mean Rhimes is all in on social media. She wondered if Facebook and Twitter were becoming “more useful or far less useful” in the age of Trump.

“There is a feeling, for a lot of people, that pulling away from a lot of those is much more comforting than it is to be on them,” she said. “I spend a lot less time on social media than I used to, and I know that people think it’s far more important, and yet, I don’t think it is.”

“Everybody reports what’s on social media that’s important,” Rhimes added. “So in a weird way, you don’t have to follow it as closely as you did before, when you had to be there to see what was happening in the instant. Now, I can find out what Donald Trump said on Twitter just by walking around. It’s everywhere! It’s not as urgent to be in the know and on the sites.”

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge's Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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