Shonda Rhimes, the writer behind the hit series “Grey’s Anatomy,” handles a course on writing for television. Though I am a content writer, I thought I should probably give her MasterClass a shot.
You know, as writing can vary in different fields, I wanted to learn the writing that goes into a television series. Hence, I grabbed the opportunity right away and took her MasterClass.
In this article, you’ll find a complete review of Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass, the lessons and modules, the pros & cons, the cost of her MasterClass, and my final verdict after 60 days with this MasterClass.
A Short Summary: Shonda Rhimes MasterClass
Got no time? Here is a short summary of the full review.
In Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass, you get to learn the following:
- Finding ideas
- Developing concepts
- Right way to research
- Creating memorable characters
- How to pitch to a studio or a producer
Suitable for: Aspiring writers who are struggling to get into the television industry.
The number of lessons and time taken: This MasterClass has 30 lessons. It would take around 6 hours to complete this Shonda Rhimes MasterClass.
Quick verdict: The MasterClass was an insightful course on television writing. Shonda Rhimes shares all the bits and pieces of her work, including her famous characters Meredith Grey and Olivia Pope, as examples. She also uses Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal as case studies, which was helpful.
Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass: In a bubble
Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass was something I had to take if I took up a career as a screenwriter or a writer who writes for television/shows because the course had such insight into writing.
Especially for Television. At times I found myself super pumped to be learning from Rhimes as she went in-depth about what it takes to produce content like Grey’s Anatomy. So, stay attentive.
The MasterClass platform offers a variety of courses on different genres like sports, food, business, music, and many more. Some of the famous instructors are David Lynch teaches creativity and film, Christina Aguilera teaches singing, Werner Herzog teaches filmmaking, Steve Martin teaches comedy, and many more.
Note: There is still a lot of information available on MasterClass. To give you a full overview, we have done a thorough review of MasterClass.
You might miss out on some significant critical points if you don’t pay proper attention as she goes full-on from teaching yourself to developing an idea to researching to creating characters to writing dialogues.
I was shocked that Shonda broke down the various parts in a writer’s work that online courses can only overlook. Thanks to MasterClass for making sure to simplify the lessons.
To wrap up Shonda Rhimes’ MasterCladd, it took 6 hours for me to complete all 30 lessons. Don’t worry; it doesn’t feel slow. They are short lessons which are around 10-12 minutes per lesson.
Also, her energy towards the subject remains constant throughout the MasterClass and not like that of those boring college professors giving lectures on a Monday morning.
You also get resourceful 60 long pages of workbook with the course. There is more to the workbook, which I will be covering at the later part of this review; hence keep reading till the end.
What are the lessons like in Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass?
Shonda Rhimes has implemented her learnings from her experience as a television writer in Grey’s Anatomy into her MasterClass, which is a great strategy for all the Anatomy fanatics, including myself. I mean, who doesn’t like Grey’s Anatomy?
Let me take you through the highlights of her MasterClass where she shares in-depth teaching on television writing and the process that creates iconic characters.
1. Introduction to television writing
Shonda Rhimes starts off her MasterClass with a comedic note where she says that usually, directors make all the decisions in a film, but in television, the writer takes charge of the show.
That being said, she talks about how influential the writers are in running a show on television. She also claims to say that there is not much difference in writing for television and movies as it is only the art of storytelling that matters.
“Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral. Pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.”
Rhimes shares an essential tip for ideas that it should be from everywhere. If you are going to box yourself to a particular set of ideas, then the creative juices will be dead soon.
Ever since I learned this from her, I started to observe my surroundings if I am writing a piece.
In the following lesson, she suggests ways to compress and develop an idea into a story by adding elements that value the subject. That part was impressive to learn.
2. Read for research
Research plays a vital role in transforming an idea into a masterpiece level of a story where she recommends her way of researching, which involves the old-fashioned way.
“Don’t let what he wants eclipse what you need. He is very dreamy,” she says. “But he is not the sun. You are.”
That is, hitting the library and reading lots of books. Though it may seem a tedious task, it is effective at the end where you get the most benefit from. She does not encourage stealing another person’s work while researching, which is illegal. Be careful while researching.
Shonda takes Grey’s Anatomy as an example and says that she researched medicine because though the writers have their freedom of writing, the written content should be factually correct.
3. Creating characters
Next, Shonda takes you through creating a memorable character divided into two parts as the chapter is pretty lengthy. She breaks down the character development process of her famous characters, namely Olivia Pope and Meredith Grey. I was excited to know this.
“If you want crappy things to stop happening to you, then stop accepting crap and demand something more. —CRISTINA YANG, GREY’S ANATOMY”
Not every instructor goes transparent about their work or only shares a glimpse of their working process, but Rhimes stepped ahead and is dissecting the character development of her character.
She says that it is essential to make sure that each character you create is not artificial and share honest feelings like you and me. This way, if you are feeling vulnerable about something, the character should too. That applies to all sorts of emotions a human being can evoke, she adds.
In the second part, she shares tips on writing multiple characters where you have to create characters who can blend in with each other and not rigid and stiff characters.
NOTE: Shonda Rhimes uses her characters as examples for most of her lessons. Watch out!
4. Don’t forget to Pitch
Pitch is something you’d do as a writer where you reach out to a studio or producer to talk about the show that you have worked on. It is basically like applying for college and waiting for an acceptance letter.
“Losing yourself does not happen all at once. Losing yourself happens one no at a time.”
She says that in most cases, you would know if a studio is interested or not, but that does not matter. You have to be strong in your pitching level, where the pitch should be well-structured and something that can be followed. I understood that she is simply suggesting you be clear.
Also, pitching will get you that million-dollar project, so even if you have outstanding work but do poor pitching, I don’t think the studio will consider you.
5. Scripts & studies
Later, Shonda talks about structuring scripts and how to break them down into several acts for a show which is around 1 hour. She goes directly into the subject of writing for television.
“If I don't poke my head out of my shell and show people who I am, all anyone will ever think I am is my shell.”
She shares the information of having 72 pages for the pilot of Grey’s Anatomy as an example and says that even in the pilot, certain pages were segregated into different acts.
Followed by next lesson, she uses several case studies with her work of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, which gives a clear understanding of what she did to make it a success.
Trust me; there are a lot of case studies. You can take your time to learn each one at your own pace though I might have skipped one or two. Also, there are no spoilers if you haven’t watched Grey’s Anatomy because she only uses her pilots as examples and for case study purposes.
6. Life as a writer:
By the end, Shonda wraps up her MasterClass in the final lessons, where she explains about working in Tv production and the hard work that goes into each episode of a show. She also talks through the routine of a writer at the sets of a television drama.
“Breaking into the Industry” lesson is very useful to all the aspiring writers who are struggling to get into the professional field of television writing.
Upcoming writers, watch out for this lesson. It was pretty insightful and focused on the career.
Of course, she shares her journey of what it took for her to get where she is today.
What did Shonda Rhimes teach me?
Being an aspiring writer myself, some of the lessons Shonda covered in her MasterClass were some challenging experiences for me as a writer. For example, coming up with a strong idea is difficult because you do not even know how difficult it is until you actually try to do it.
But her tips on how to come up with an idea surprised me and gave me a new perspective on developing creative and original ideas that were life-changing.
Another great tip was reading for research, where she mentions going back traditionally to referring book-by-book for research purposes.
I felt some outdated plan that she is casually promoting but could find answers to your unfinished story. Maybe I should give it a try. Probably you should too.
Those two were my biggest takeaways from her MasterClass. I learned a lot about what it is actually like to be writing for television and the role of a writer in a television fraternity.
How much does Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass cost?
It is no doubt that MasterClass remains to be having an exciting pricing plan for their users where purchasing a single course can unlock and give access to over 100+ courses in their platform.
With an All-Access Pass worth $180/- per year (billed as $15/- per month), a user has the benefit of taking multiple courses simultaneously.
For example, let me share how I productively spent a month on MasterClass. I purchased the All-Access Pass to take a course on singing but did not feel like taking it at that moment, so I quickly jumped into Aaron Franklin’s MasterClass on Texas-style BBQ cooking, which was pretty fun.
Alongside Aaron Franklin’s MasterClass, I also took Gordon Ramsay’s MasterClass on general cooking. This way, I got to learn from two legends at the same time. By the end of the month, I finished the singing course by Christina Aguilera and did not pay for more than one course.
I’d recommend you take a course a week, which means you can complete four courses in a month.
Who is Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass best suited to?
I’d say Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass is full of knowledge and tips on getting into television.
Suppose you are clueless about how to get into television media. In that case, Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass is the perfect course for you because she covers legit points on becoming a television writer.
Her MasterClass is career-oriented and specific towards the goal of teaching, so it will be appropriate for doubtful writers who take baby steps to make it to television in the right way.
She also shares her way into the industry how her life had changed after college, which I feel most struggling writers can possibly relate to.
What can be improved in Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass?
Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass was great, but few things made me question the course. I would not say the course had to improve a lot but only a few points that I felt.
Now and then, Shonda gets in conversation with few writers and talks about something. It would have helped if she had introduced the chapter on what the teaching is about. Though trained and experienced writers can comprehend and join the flow, few beginners might find it confusing.
Though picking a celebrity as an instructor is the tradition of MasterClass, it was slightly disappointing for me to learn from an average teacher. I agree that her explanation was good in specific lessons, but she was not the best at teaching as a whole.
Here are some alternatives to Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass:
It is fair to look for other courses if you are not satisfied with the one you signed up for.
To ease your time and energy searching for another set of writing courses in Google, I got you covered with some of the best courses in MasterClass itself, which promises to teach you better.
- Aaron Sorkin “Teaches Screenwriting.”
- Malcolm Gladwell “Teaches Writing.”
- Margaret Atwood “Teaches Creative Writing.”
- James Patterson “Teaches Writing.”
- Judy Blume “Teaches Writing.”
- David Baldacci “Teaches Mystery and Thriller Writing.”
As you can see, you got a variety of options to choose from only for writing, thanks to MasterClass. Even if you had taken Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass and got disappointed, don’t worry. I suggest a tip.
With the power of All-Access Pass, you can James Patterson’s MasterClass, which I personally found interesting. Malcolm Gladwell’s MasterClass is also a good course for writing.
Pros & Cons of Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass:
The following are the valid reasons to take up Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass, followed by some of the downsides that make it not the best course in MasterClass.
- Learning from a professional.
- Helpful workbook resources.
- In-depth explanation.
- Average teaching.
- Confusing lessons.
Final Verdict Of Shonda Rhimes MasterClass Review
If you are talking about her MasterClass as one of the platform’s writing courses, I would say it is decently good. But when we compare Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass with other incredible courses in MasterClass, I’d recommend the latter if you are looking for writing courses.
If you are trying to get into the field of Television writing, then Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass can be a good option; otherwise, writing enthusiasts can find better courses.
It is the teaching which I felt confusing at times, but overall, it was good learning about writing on television. In fact, I got exposed to a new way of writing which was not my cup of tea.
To conclude, I am stressing on it again, any writer who aspires to see themselves as a television writer, Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass is worth the money.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass too long?
Though there are 30 lessons in Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass, each lesson is only about 10-15 minutes long.
What can you learn in Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass?
In Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass, you get to learn about finding ideas, creating characters, writing authentic dialogues, and much more insight into the field of television writing.
What is the cost of Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass?
The courses in MasterClass can be purchased at an annual plan of $180/- per year.
Can you get Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass for free?
Unfortunately, it is impossible to get Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass for free.