In the early days of the pandemic, we started binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix.
We had never watched it, although, as a pop culture pulse-taker, I knew who the major players were and some of the scandals that erupted over the years. It is a top-drawer soap opera set in the world of surgeons. We’re almost finished. Netflix streams seasons 1-15 as the show’s final season, #16, plays out on ABC.
Fans of the show had to wait week to week to see what happened to Meredith Grey and company. We watched it more like a movie, sometimes four or five episodes in an evening. We laughed and cried and yelled at the screen. Some of the episodes were pure brilliance. Some were infuriating. Without further adieu, here are my 15 Shades of Grey’s:
- Near the end of season 3, series creator Shonda Rhimes used loyal viewers as guinea pigs for her next series, Private Practice. The 58th Grey’s episode opened with unfamiliar characters talking about unfamiliar things. It was so startling that we wondered if we’d clicked on the wrong show. I could not have cared less about Dr. Addison Shepherd’s move to L.A. and I’m betting a lot of Grey’s fans were with me. (Although, PP did run for six seasons.)
- Does Rhimes own the rights to the song Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol? I counted five times (and there may have been more) that the song was used in episodes over the years, sung by a variety of people.
- Speaking of singing, there was one musical episode that was only made tolerable because Sara Ramirez (Dr. Callie Torres) is so talented. But we would not have watched a second singing show.
- And while we’re on the subject of music, the series suddenly shifted to no-name versions of popular songs in about season 7. I’m betting there was a new round of contracts for the stars and they could no longer afford music rights. It was abrupt and noticeable. And often, subpar.
- Owen Hunt was not as interesting as his prominence in the show might have you think. Actor Kevin McKidd seems like a nice guy and he hid his Scottish brogue extremely well. He directed some episodes, too. But when he went in for a passionate kiss (with woman after woman with barely a break in between) he looked as if he’d bite off their faces, like a ginger velociraptor.
- Still with McKidd, again, nice guy, yadda yadda, but he had exactly 3 facial expressions: the quizzical look, the angry frown and the heavy sigh. I would have made a drinking game out of them but I don’t drink.
- Dr. Leah Murphy (Tessa Ferrer) was one of the least likable doctors on the show. She was fired from Grey-Sloane only to return in a later season after having honed her surgery skills at another hospital. She was there for a few episodes and then disappeared with no explanation. I would have loved the satisfaction of seeing her fired again!
- It took me a long time to warm up to Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary), Meredith’s sudden sister. But I became a huge fan. Still, she did inspire some yelling over her immaturity.
- Meredith’s sister-in-law Amelia was another one to yell at! Why did Shonda make the lead women so fickle and flighty? Meredith was like that with Derek at the beginning, too.
- Sometimes, the surgery looked so real, it was like being in the gallery watching the OR. Other times, the actors looked as if they were playing in a deep bucket of red play-doh. It wasn’t necessary to show us their hands all the time to prove they were operating!
- Why would Arizona cheat on Callie while she’s wrapped up in worries about losing her leg and her new prosthetic? Why, why, WHY?!
- A lot of people had a problem with Izzy’s hallucinations about her dead fiance, Denny, even when it was later explained that they were caused by a brain tumour. I was not one of them. I was happy for the return of Denny (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in any form, ghost or otherwise.
- Everyone has a hand on a patient’s gurney when they’re being wheeled into the OR. This is not real. I’ve had several surgeries, and it’s usually one hospital porter who wheels you in or out. Sometimes you don’t see the surgeon at all.
- Meredith won the Harper-Avery award even though it was denied to Cristina because she was working at a Harper-Avery hospital. Nothing had changed. Why did Meredith suddenly qualify, hmmmm??
- The most compelling character in the first couple of seasons was George O’Malley, played by brilliant T.R. Knight. We loved George and all of his insecurities. His departure was the first one that seemed to change the tone and feel of the show. Grey’s Anatomy with George was a better Grey’s.
Feel free to quibble with this list and share your own shades of Grey’s in the comments below!