I was in the salon a few weeks ago and my hairstylist asked what shows I watch. After listing my favorites, I said in a quieter voice, “I also still watch ‘Grey’s Anatomy’.”
Then in rapid succession two of the other stylists popped their heads out near my station,
Stylist One: “I heard you say Grey’s!”
Stylist Two: “I still watch it, too!”
Me: “Really? I still love it!”
Them: “Me too!”
My stylist: “Okay, you three have got to actually be the last people who still watch ‘Grey’s Anatomy’.”
Are we? The show has seen a surge in ratings in the past two seasons. Even after Cristina Yang left! After the death of DEREK, when we all assumed the show had reached a natural, yet depressing end. Yet it kept pushing on with more drama and more stories and somehow more characters that I have managed to actually care about.
Why do we all still love Grey’s so much? Let’s review.
Grey’s premiered in 2005, when buying a full season of television shows on DVD was just starting to become a thing. My best friend owned the first season and asked if I wanted to watch it the summer after I had graduated college. I had heard about it, but I had been a very busy college student when it premiered and didn’t have time for new shows (all my show watching was consumed by The L Word and Scrubs. Which is a sentence that is very 2005.)
But she convinced me and we watched. We binge-watched before binge-watching had a name. I was hooked. After the episode “In to You Like a Train,” so was my then-boyfriend-now-husband. Then when Addison Shepherd showed up at the end of Season One? FORGET IT, we were all DEVOTED. Grey’s forever!
When we finished the DVDs we started watching in real time that Fall. Every week we gathered in my tiny studio apartment and huddled around the television to see what kind of drama would ensue. And every year since, despite cross-country moves, graduate school, travel, weddings and babies, we are still as devoted as ever. When viewers started to drop off with so many of the original cast, we hung on, glutton for more.
Through weddings and divorces and babies.
Through abortions and elevator heart surgery and hallway C-sections.
Through depression and anxiety and PTSD.
Through foot amputations (though there have been many a hilarious shot of Arizona’s very real and very there leg).
Through bad hair and great hair and questionable guest stars.
Through floods and sink holes and earthquakes and fires.
Through drownings, suicide attempts, shootings, car crashes, bus crashes, plane crashes, cancer.
Through grief and loss and first dates.
Through death after death after death, Meredith Grey has been through it all. AND SO HAVE WE.
We’ve watched Meredith grow and we’ve grown with her. I started watching when I was a lost 20-something and am now a mother, too. We’ve had Cristina teach us about being true to ourselves, our callings, our skills. We’ve had Lexi and Maggie and Amelia to teach us about sisterhood. Through thirteen seasons we’ve had no shortage of varied, nuanced, complex, strong, focused, compassionate women at the heart of interesting and heartfelt storylines. No wonder we love it so much.
News that the Grey’s spinoff has been ordered at ABC has some critics fuming that ABC is in a rut. That Dick Wolf did it better with his ‘Chicago’ franchise and, therefore, we have what we need in procedurals storytelling and need to move on.
Uh, no. Just, no.
We’ve watched Grey’s somehow stay relevant. We’ve watched Grey’s jump the shark then somehow course-correct mid-flight. I’ve never gotten to a point that I felt like I was over and done with Grey’s (like I did with Scandal; sorry but that show lost me at the fiftieth B6-13 plot twist). Even though I cannot handle the baby episodes (of which there are a gajillion these days), I am still rapt watching these surgeons balance work and life. I’m enamored with how they manage their grief and their loss. I’m transfixed by their strength and devotion to one another. The stories are bound to be interesting, the genre will be pushed, and the characters are bound to be complex.
With Shonda at the helm, there is no such thing as stale.
People, we are about to embark on the season THIRTEEN finale, and my best friend and I still text each other about Grey’s every week. I still cry. I still laugh. It’s not perfect, nowhere near, but this show by women and for women is still going strong and we, the absurd and devoted fans, are STILL here for it.
Thank you, Shonda. And thanks fellow devotees.