shonda rhimes

Year of Yes (Book Review)

Year of Yes (Book Review) - The Palmetto PeachesI have a love/hate relationship with Shonda Rhimes, television titan, the genius behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Private Practice and How to Get Away With Murder. I question my loyalty to a woman who would cause me to spill gallons of tears over fictional characters. And yet, when I was deciding what to put on my 2016 reading list I couldn’t resist her book: Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person.

Shonda Rhimes writes this book like she’s having a personal conversation with you. You know just a chat with a good friend – over wine – and I loved it. Year of Yes was an easy and encouraging read. I found myself literally laughing out loud. Shonda Rhimes gets real and talks about her struggles with balancing motherhood, her business and being an introvert in an industry that requires you to be social.

I was hooked from the epigraph page where I found one of my favorite Cristina Yang (Grey’s Anatomy) quotes:

If you want crappy things to stop happening to you, then stop accepting crap and demand more.

Amen, Mama Shonda. Amen.

Shonda Rhimes takes her readers on a journey of how saying yes changed her life. Through the help of her sister, she realizes that she never said yes to anything. Her no’s were holding her back and she was saying no because of fear. It’s through her stories about relationships, weight loss, and her children that she inspires her readers to find the courage to say yes and change their own lives.

One of my favorite parts of the book is her account of the Dartmouth commencement speech she gave in 2014.  Within the first few lines she says the word poop. So, yup, I’m listening. Forgive me, I’m a 26 year old child. Without giving too much away – here are some of the lessons she shared with the class of 2014.

  • Lesson One: Ditch the dream. Be a doer, not a dreamer.
  • Lesson Two: Tomorrow is going to be the worst day ever for you. (But don’t be an asshole)
  • Lesson Three: Anyone who tells you that they are doing it all perfectly is a liar.

Year of Yes (Book Review) - The Palmetto Peaches

She concludes the commencement speech with the following words:

Be brave. Be amazing. Be worthy. And every single time you get the chance? Stand up in front of people. Let them see you. Speak. Be heard. Go ahead and have the dry mouth Let your hear beat so, so fast. Watch everything move in slow motion. So what. You what? You pass out, you die, you poop? No. (And this is the really the only lesson you’ll ever need to know.) You take it in. You breathe this rare air. You feel alive. You are yourself You are truly always yourself. Thank you. Good luck!

If you’re looking for an inspirational read, I would definitely recommend this book. With each chapter, I found myself wanting to embark on my own year of yes, be my own person, dance it out and stand in the sun. Not convinced Mama Shonda has some words of wisdom to impart on you. Check out another stand out quote:

Happiness comes from living as you need to, as  you want to.

Take the challenge and find the courage to say yes. The opportunities that come from opening yourself up to new experiences could be life-changing. What are some things that you often say no to that you should consider saying yes to? Leave a comment below.

Donni Siggy--The Palmetto Peaches

Empire vs. Scandal: Primetime’s Heavyweight Bout

I casually scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed as I waited for Shonda Rhimes night to begin. I realized that there was an Empire vs. Scandal battle going on that I was unaware of. This is nothing like the upcoming Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight, but the interwebs is trying to pretend it is.

Empire vs. Scandal: Primetime's Heavyweight Bout - The Palmetto Peaches -


If you’ve been living under a rock or are allergic to FOX, you may not know that Empire has quickly become the number one new series of the season in all the key demographics. According to Nielsen, 61% of the show’s audience is African-American. A figure that no other prime time show, new or old, even comes close to matching. Additionally, Empire is shattering Nielsen records as the only series to rise in the ratings for seven consecutive weeks since its premiere, climbing steadily from 9.9 million same-day viewers for its Jan. 7 opener to 13.9 million last week.


In comparison, Scandal first landed on ABC with eight episodes and the ratings were okay, but nothing like the Empire phenomenon. However, because of Scandal‘s ridiculous Twitter engagement, ABC saw its potential. Shonda Rhimes has since become Thursday night’s queen.

Empire vs. Scandal

The basic argument was that Empire is led by an all-black cast (Andre’s wife is a minor character) and has continued to break Nielsen records. Beyond this, the show addresses issues that plague the African American community, but are sometimes ignored (e.g. homophobia and mental illness). In addition, the show is ultimately a celebration of a family rising from poverty to an – for lack of a better word – “empire”.

Empire vs. Scandal -- The Palmetto Peaches

ADDRESSING the issues

Pro-Empire viewers chastised Scandal for not addressing serious issues and basically saying it was a dramatic story of who “other woman/ sidepiece” Olivia  should be with. (For the record, I’m #TeamJake whom, I refer to as Pillow Lips). Don’t get me wrong, I roll my eyes and sip my wine whenever the Olitz music plays and they have a brief and highly dramatic encounter. However, Scandal, in fact, has taken up an insane number of social issues. Abby’s storyline that raised awareness about domestic violence. The issue of gun control was weaved into the storyline via a speech by Fitz. Who can forget the end of Season 3 when Daddy Pope called Fitz a “boy” reading him to filth with the eloquence and dynamics of a preacher giving a sermon on First Sunday. This wasn’t just about Fitz’s rude and childish comment, but about the achievements and struggles of the black community and a commentary on white privilege. Also, we can’t leave out Rowan’s “You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have” speech.

I also can’t address that criticism without talking about last night’s episode “The Lawn Chair,”  which echoed what occurred with Michael Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York and other countless incidents across the country. (P.S. Can we have a round of applause for Courtney B. Vance?) While the protesters weren’t chanting “black lives matter,” Shonda Rhimes and co. had them chant “Stand up, fight back, no more black men under attack”. Still effective in my opinion. I’m usually pretty active on Twitter during episodes, but last night I was pretty quiet. I stayed engaged with the characters and I may have cried a little because the episode was just that powerful.

Empire vs. Scandal

My question is why do we have to choose?

I think both shows play an important role in today’s TV landscape. Scandal is the kind of show that will have Olivia Pope kidnapped one day and then take on institutionalized racism the next. Empire is opening people’s eyes to taboo topics like mental illness. Both are showing Hollywood the power of not only Black actors and actresses (and producers), but black audiences. Shonda Rhimes tweeted about the importance of Empire’s record-breaking numbers:

If boss lady Shonda can dance for joy about Empire’s success, why do we have to be Team Empire or Team Scandal?

Tweet me your thoughts. Do you watch both? Are you a Cookie Monster (Team Empire) or a Gladiator (Team Scandal)? Or are you just sipping your tea while on Team Mary Jane Paul? (FYI – I love them all and equally on their corresponding nights!)