Brow Beat

Shonda Rhimes, Kerry Washington, and Viola Davis Compare Hillary to Characters From the Shondaverse In New Ad

What do Meredith Grey, Olivia Pope, and Annalise Keating all have in common? Aside from being the major characters within Shonda Rhimes’ hugely successful television universe, they all possess many of the same qualities as the real-life Hillary Clinton. So says a new ad that aired Thursday night in the middle of ABC’s “Thank God It’s Thursday” lineup, in which Ellen Pompeo, Kerry Washington, and Viola Davis, respectively, each describe their character as a “brilliant, complex, overqualified, get-it-done woman, who obsessively fights for justice, who cares.”


The real world, they insist, alongside Rhimes, has Hillary Clinton.

If you’re steeped in Shondaland, you’ll understand what exactly makes the ad so effective: It takes the woman notable for creating some of the most interesting female characters television has ever seen—characters who have at some point or another faced adversity, tough odds, and, of course, sexism—and aligns her world with a powerful female politician who has also faced adversity, tough odds, and, plenty of sexism. All of them manage to bounce back (a point noted explicitly in the ad) and return stronger than before, just as Clinton has.

When you throw in the familiar nature of political ads (the repetitive phrases for emphasis, the impassioned direct-address delivery), it makes for a striking combo. Even if you never really thought of it in this way before, you will now—Meredith, Olivia, and Annalise are all, in a way, descendants of Clinton and her singular brand of feminism. It’s no surprise, then, to hear the actresses and Rhimes proudly proclaim, “I’m with Hillary.”