Since Grey’s Anatomy (Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. MT on CTV) premiered in 2005, there have been significant changes both to the landscape of television and the landscape of Hollywood. While the first season of the drama centred around medical intern Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) being pursued by her attending physician, Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), the storyline would likely not sit well with viewers now, according to writer and showrunner Krista Vernoff.
Speaking with the LA Times, Vernoff, who wrote for Grey’s for the first seven seasons before stepping away and returning in 2018 for Season 15, says changing not only the dynamics of the writers’ room but also the show’s storylines in the wake of the #MeToo movement has been critical to the show’s continued success.
“As all of Hollywood has been sort of reckoning with the changing rules and the changing tides, I have felt a personal responsibility to live into that, whatever that means,” says Vernoff.
Recalling the day when the women in the Grey’s Anatomy writers room all shared their own #MeToo moments, Vernoff said she realized that these were conversations women were only having with one another. “The men in the room were stunned. It was amazing to me to realize that prior to #MeToo and Time’s Up, even we women in Hollywood were only talking about these experiences with each other. The men in our lives, our spouses and our partners had been unaware of these experiences because we only took them to the other women in our lives. There was just this collective silence, which was a collective enabling.”
Vernoff acknowledges that the changes in Hollywood have also had an affect on the stories told on Grey’s, admitting that Meredith and Derek’s love story would be viewed more as predatory if it aired today. It was predatory then too, but we let it slide. “If you look at, for example, Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd through the lens of Time’s Up and #MeToo, he was her boss, she was an intern, and she kept saying, “No, walk away from me,” and he kept pursuing her, and that is probably not a story we would tell on the show today, and it’s a beautiful reflection of the changing times,” says Vernoff.
While the creators of Grey’s Anatomy can’t go back and rewrite the origin story for the series’ most iconic relationship, they can approach future storylines with a more socially conscious eye, namely this season’s love triangle between Meredith, new Ortho God Link (Chris Carmack), and surgical resident Andrew Deluca (Giacomo Gianniotti).
“This season, we’re doing a little bit of a reversal as we begin to build this love triangle that’s emerging with Deluca as one the people in that triangle, and he is a resident and Meredith is an attending, and we’re having to address it differently than we ever would have before,” says Vernoff. “We’re having to talk about and look at power dynamics. It is an ongoing conversation in the writers room. How do we tell that story in a way that feels honest and romantic and sexy and yet proactive and progressive?”
As viewers, that means we can confidently enjoy one of Grey’s Anatomy’s hottest love triangles without feeling icky about power dynamics.
Watch Grey’s Anatomy every Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. MT on CTV.