Shonda Rhimes’ “Grey’s Anatomy” is one of the most popular/longest standing prime time medical dramas to hit our television screens. Like all television shows and movies right now, the future is unknown as to when our favorite actors/actresses will be able to return to the studio to deliver more gut-wrenching monologues and complex love triangles, however, for “Grey’s Anatomy” specifically, the writers already have a solid starting point for where to begin their next season: the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Grey’s Anatomy” executive producer, Krista Vernoff, spoke at a Television Academy panel this week, where she said that Dr. Meredith Grey, played by Ellen Pompeo, and her colleagues have been treating some of the most intense medical emergencies for over 350 episodes now, so it only makes sense that they would also have to face the worst global health crisis the world has seen this century.
“We’re going to address this pandemic for sure. There’s no way to be a long-running medical show and not do the medical story of our lifetimes.”
Vernoff said that the Grey’s writing team is having constant discussions with real-life doctors working on the frontlines of the pandemic currently. She claims that they want to do these essential workers justice in capturing the emotional toll that they have to endure while saving countless lives everyday.
While the show normally interviews real-life medical professionals to ensure accuracy in all of the plot-lines, Vernoff says that this time is much different. “It’s really painful to listen to these doctors. It’s really painful to realize what they’re going through on a daily basis.”
As of right now, all Hollywood productions and broadcasts are for the most part indefinitely cancelled until the pandemic gets more under control. In the meantime the Grey’s team has spent their days writing and imagining what the future of the show will look like, while also donating medical gowns and gloves to healthcare workers in the meantime.
As mentioned the writers for the show are continuing to work through the pandemic for the next season of Grey’s despite not knowing when they’ll be able to film it. The process involves bringing in doctors to tell their personal stories working in a hospital, and while that experience is normally either extremely joyful or sad, this year Vernoff claims these meetings have felt more like therapy sessions for these doctors. “We’re the first people they’re talking to about these experiences. They’re literally shaking and trying not to cry, they’re pale, and they’re talking about it as a war that they were not trained for.”
While Vernoff won’t reveal any specifics, she claims that the literal life-and-death decisions Covid-19 has forced real doctors to endure needs to be reflected in the storylines, as it’s important for the world to see what our healthcare industry workers have been/are continuing to take on every day.
“They’re holding people while they die. They’re having to decide who lives and who dies. They’re having people die who would not have ever died from whatever their medical condition is because there’s COVID as a factor. It’s a lot.”
Vernoff ended the panel by claiming the show has always had a moral responsibility to show the world the real-life intense situations our medical professionals go through to keep us alive, and that responsibility has never been more important. As Covid-19 continues to be a problem in the world, the writers are doing their job by staying home and writing storylines that will reveal a totally different side to what many have likely seen from this pandemic.