Back in the spring of 2005, a new medical drama premiered on ABC. I tuned in partly because the show was set in Seattle and partly out of simple curiosity. Heck, “Frasier” was set in Seattle and was a very funny half hour comedy that ran nearly 11 years, it couldn’t hurt to give this show a try.
That initial curiosity has turned into a 12 year habit. Call it “hatewatching,” call it stupid devotion, but I just can’t stop watching “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Shonda Rhimes, who created the show and writes many of its best episodes, took the simple premise of following a group of first year interns at fictional Seattle Grace Hospital, and has turned it into a long-running, top network television show.
Go back and watch the premiere episode. All the elements that keep the show popular are there: the intense medical procedures, the wild soap opera-like romantic entanglements – and most importantly, I think – the all too human reactions.
Sure, Meredith Grey (star Ellen Pompeo) began her first day at the hospital by discovering she had unknowingly slept with her boss (Patrick Dempsey) the night before, but you can see the beginning of her seasons-long friendships with fellow interns Christina Yang (Sandra Oh), George O’Malley (T.R. Knight) and Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) and her strained relationship with her mother (Kate Burton) – a former doctor herself.
The show also features great work from cast members who have been there from the beginning: Chandra Wilson and James Pickens, Jr. And the music supervisor should get some sort of recognition for matching the music to the emotion, scene for scene.
Last year around this time there was a lot of Internet buzz from fans who were going to stop watching the show after Dempsey’s character, Dr. Shepherd, was written off the show. A year later, the show is even more popular than before.
Personally, I was ready to bail after the plane crash that ended season eight, and put several major characters in jeopardy — including one half of my favorite couple — Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) and Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez). Robbins survived, and to tell the truth, I probably would have kept watching no matter what.
One more complaint. The show is set in Seattle — there are fleeting shots of the Space Needle, the bridges over Lake Washington and the city’s skyline, and the actors seem to have coffee in their hands constantly — but to this native’s eyes, it so obviously is not filmed here. The KOMO News building in lower Queen Anne stands in for the exterior of the hospital.
And yet, I keep coming back to see how the employees are coping with their (sometimes ridiculously) complicated lives. Tonight’s season finale promises to be a little lighter emotionally (a wedding and a baby), but I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen the last of the fallout from the Robbins/Torres custody battle.
Oh yes, you’ve got me hooked, Shonda Rhimes, for whatever you have in store for season 13 and beyond.