Shonda Rhimes is a miracle worker. Not only is Scandal one of the most talked about shows on television, but her first hit Grey’s Anatomy is still on the air. It is approaching its 200th episode and could easily last over 10 seasons. Despite cast members like Isaiah Washington, Katherine Heigl, and T.R. Knight leaving under very public circumstances, the series has continued to grow, evolve, and maintain its audience.
Here are just a few reasons why we are still watching Grey’s Anatomy:
The show started as a sexy romp with Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) making poor drunken choices by starting an ill-advised relationship with her superior, Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey). Then everyone started sleeping together. The couple finally cemented their relationship only to be wrought with one cataclysmic event after another from airplane crashes to hostage situations. Now, the show exists as a medical drama focused on the high stakes world of surgery and its affect on a group of couples and families.
The show has created some great relationships. All of the characters have such great chemistry, no wonder Rhimes had them all sleep together. That being said she still plays with the subtleties of their romantic and friendship bonds. Meredith and Dr. Christina Yang (Sandra Oh) are finding trouble balancing their competition with their vastly different personal lives. Dr. Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) has a uniquely paternal and adversarial relationship with many of the young doctors. Dr. Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) and Dr. Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) have one of television history’s most high-profile lesbian marriages but they are suddenly dealing with major upheavals.
Unlike some shows that ignore characters, Grey’s takes advantage of time to explore new levels of new additions. No one is just a glorified extra. Characters like Dr. April Kepner (Sarah Drew) and Dr. Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) started off as cannon fodder and one-dimensional characters but evolved into full-fledged members of the cast with elaborate back-stories and multidimensional personalities. The smart use of time to slowly allow these characters to percolate, develop, and reveal themselves is part of Rhimes’ genius.
Sometimes you see them coming a mile away and sometimes you spit out your wine, but Grey’s is not afraid to shock you out of your seat. Whether it’s an infidelity reveal or a character left near death no one is safe and nothing is what you expect. The balls-to-the-wall brazenness and shocking moments keep the show fresh. In the past few weeks alone, we’ve seen characters swap sexualities, reveal mood disorders, and start major fights.
Regardless of their notoriety, or lack thereof, the actors on Grey’s Anatomy really breathe life into their characters. Love them or hate them, you form a connection to the characters. Rooting for Meredith to have a happy life, or Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) to get closure so he won’t be such a jerk, is part of what keeps people coming back each week.