Beginning its 19th season on prime-time TV this month — yes, it’s 1-9, Grey’s Anatomy, Bear’s Anatomy Long established itself as a reliable hit, not just a spot on ABC’s primetime schedule, but reruns in timeslots elsewhere. And part of what makes it successful from the start is the main character, Ellen Pompeo’s Dr. Meredith Gray and Patrick Dempsey’s character, Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd, who left the cast in 2015.
on tuesday, gray‘s creator Shonda Rhimes explained that the way Meredith and Derek’s relationship began – they went home together after meeting at a bar – was a problem for some. At least Meredith’s actions were. And the next day she found out that Derek was her new superior at the then-named Seattle Grace Hospital, where she was not at all enamored with the new resident.
“I remember calling a room full of old people,” Rhimes said 9 to 5ish with skim podcast, “And they brought us in to tell us that the show was a problem because no one would watch a show about a woman who sleeps with a man the night before her first day on the job. And that was serious.”
Actually, he asked, after reading the pilot episode, who would do something like get drunk and have a one-night stand with a stranger the night before starting a new job?
Betsy Beers, who is Rhimes’ production partner on that show, and many others volunteered. The men’s answer to the often rhetorical question shocked and scratched them.
“They couldn’t call me a dog to my face,” Beers said. “Didn’t know what to say.”
The whole point was that Beers and Rhimes, who have worked together on shows including this one Scam, How to get away with murder And BridgertonThere were no women like myself on TV.
“There weren’t really that many shows with a woman at the center,” Beers said. “That in itself was amazing.”
Rhimes said she later realized why she had that reaction.
“I think it seems really obvious now. But at the time, you have to remember that there had never been a show on network television with a main character owning her sexuality,” Rhimes said. “There weren’t any shows where you saw three or four people of color in a room talking, unless it was on a sitcom, with no one else in the room. You didn’t see a lot of the things we were doing. And I didn’t think of them as revolutionary. I thought, ‘ We’re just making a show that I want to watch.’
Four Emmys and countless other awards later, they’re still at it.
And that Meredith-Derek coupling that didn’t agree with the men in Rhimes’ story has gone down as one of the most fan-favorites in TV history. Just last month, the artists behind the characters, Pompeo and Dempsey, happily reunited at the D23 Expo, where they swiped Yahoo Entertainment’s mic for a few laughs.