Overview In this chapter, we begin to get into the psyche of Shonda Rhimes and begin to slowly understand how perhaps one of the most famous and nameable writers on TV, found herself in a place where she lived for the work and cowered from some of the benefits. Main Plot (with Commentary) Topic 1:…

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In this chapter, we begin to get into the psyche of Shonda Rhimes and begin to slowly understand how perhaps one of the most famous and nameable writers on TV, found herself in a place where she lived for the work and cowered from some of the benefits.

Main Plot (with Commentary)

Topic 1: “Why Would I Have Said No?”

It is noted by Shonda that despite how she may sound, in which she says no to everything when given the option, this whole way of life isn’t something which has existed since childhood. In fact, she notes she used to be a happy person. She speaks of wild friends who would bring her out of her shell, who would be able to convince her to last minute trips, and then suddenly things changed.

However, she never says what exactly changed. She says it was her saying no, but what was it that left that made her start saying no isn’t noted. Is it because her friends moved on? She uses the word “had” to talk about the people she used to hang with. Then again, maybe it was the work? She got her ticket and ran to not only catch, but eventually drive that proverbial train! Could that have been the reason her yes became consistent “No.” Could it be the children, having two shows on the air, working on a third one, the idea of being seen from behind the camera, or what? This isn’t answered. All we are told, thus far, is she doesn’t know why she became unhappy.

Topic 2: “I Would Have Said No Because If I Said Yes, I Would Have to Actually Do It”

What a weird thing to hear that someone is afraid when you manage a production company, are responsible for a channel making 100s of millions of dollars and are a job provider to a diverse group of actors. Actors whose careers go from mediocre success to them being on magazine covers, now having more roles available to them than ever, and all because of your writing… It just doesn’t make sense.

Yet here is Shonda. A woman afraid to sit near the POTUS and FLOTUS in an almost Wayne’s World “I am not worthy!” type of way. Which is understandable for, no matter how you cut it, Shonda is the baby of a family of 8. One which lived in her imagination and enjoyed her seclusion of a pantry as much as the abundance of attention. By the way, let it be noted that she really loved that pantry. In fact, even decades later she makes it seem like some of the happiness moments of her life.

But despite all she has now, she notes she is someone who used to need Xanax to function. Heck, before she went to the Kennedy Center Honors, she was considering licking the dust out of the bottom of a 12-year-old bottle. Which begins to lead us to understand why she often says no. In the aforementioned chapter, she talks about the train which is a production schedule. While that train is running, she is fine, busy, and distracted. She is coming up with stories to tell, embellish, and spread across the world. However, when it is time for maintenance and the staff of that train are given rest, she doesn’t seem to know what to do with herself. Not because she has no options, but now that the train isn’t running it is like the inertia hits her and that stress she is running from by keeping busy hits. Hence why she notes she would sleep for 14 hours and do her best to live inside her head.

Topic 3: “Athlete Talk”

So where was Shonda Rhimes in December2013? She was successful with two shows, a third on the way, and yet she makes it sound like she had the life of a well-oiled cog. She went to work, put in all the hours she needed to, came home, spent time with kids, had dates to, I guess, have some form of companionship (she really doesn’t go into her love life whatsoever outside of noting she does date), and slept. Then, when it comes to all the times she had to be seen, she did what she describes as “Athlete Talk.” A method of speaking in which you smile, your voice sounds so bland you sound scripted, and pretty much say nothing of substance. You’re just happy to be part of the team, in the game, and no matter what the question, you are simply just thankful. And, arguably, that is how she handled saying “No.” She presented the athlete talk of being honored and everything, but likely with one excuse or another, the answer was all the same. The answer was always some bland excuse.

Yet, lest we forget, Shonda thrives when she can tell a story. So what kind of writer could she be closed off, back in that pantry, and cutting herself off from a world which gives such inspiration? So begins the possibility of the year of yes.

Things To Note

Shonda notes she is dating, multiple times, or at least she was dating, but we aren’t given much of a clue whether this person has any influence on her beginning her year of yes or not. Their being seems noted strictly to let you know that Shonda does get out there. Shonda isn’t just some dork who strictly fantasizes about other people having romantic entanglements as she raises kids and has red wine and her family members for company.

Also, it should be noted that despite some of her eccentrics, especially growing up, she is in no way the black sheep of her family. Her parents fostered, and participated, in her imagination. Take for example the pantry play, Shonda would create a world similar to what Sausage Party, or those refrigerator commercials have in which peas would be at war and each can had a life. Her parents would ask for some vegetables and Shonda would serve up who was to be killed. As for how her siblings participated, well she notes they would read to her and pay attention to her. Now, be it because she was the baby and in the family of 8 someone had to take care of her, or simply because they wanted to, that is hard to say.

Collected Quote(s)


I would have said no because if I had said yes, I would have had to actually do it.

— “Chapter 2: Maybe?” A Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes


Like every other mother on the planet, from the moment my first baby entered the house, I stopped getting real sleep. Motherhood means I’m always a little bit awake, a little bit alert at all times. One eye open.

— “Chapter 2: Maybe?” A Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes


The thing is, a good story is not about purposely lying. The best stories are true. Giving good story just requires that I … leave out the untidy bits.

— “Chapter 2: Maybe?” A Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes


This is who I am.







More comfortable with books than new situations.


Content to live within my imagination.

—  “Chapter 2: Maybe?” A Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes


In public, I smiled. A lot. I did a HUGE amount of smiling. And I did what I called “Athlete Talk.” […] Athlete Talk is when the athlete goes before the press and keeps a smile on her face, voice bland and pleasant as she deftly fields one reporter’s question after the other—never once saying anything of controversy or substance.

—  “Chapter 2: Maybe?” A Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

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