We should all just bow down to the creative genius that is Shonda Rhimes right now. Not only has she somehow managed to keep us totally invested in Grey’s Anatomy after a dozen seasons, character deaths and new actors helming big roles, but now she’s also planning the show’s second, 10-episode spinoff. (RIP Private Practice, you gave us six seasons of awesome L.A.-based, Addison Montgomery storylines.)
The cast of the new spinoff, as well as Rhimes and show-creator Stacy McKee took the stage Monday during the 2018 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif., where they broke down all of the fire-fighting series’ new and important details ahead of its glossy, two-hour premiere on March 22.
Here’s all of the invaluable info we got from the session.
This show still doesn’t have a name
At this point it seems like this spinoff will simply be called “spinoff” forever… that’s because the creatives behind such decisions still haven’t picked a name for the show. The head of ABC Entertainment, Channing Dungey, did admit earlier during the press tour that “coming up with the title is one of the most challenging things we do,” pointing out that Grey’s Anatomy itself didn’t even have a title until basically moments before it premiered.
There are a few ideas for a title “rolling around” though, and an announcement is expected to come in the next couple of weeks.
It all begins with Jason George
As any true Grey’s fan can attest, there’s never enough Ben Warren in any given episode. So what’s the solution to that? The actor who plays him, Jason George, will move into a starring role in this new series. We’ve seen him secretly training to transition into a firefighter for weeks on Grey’s now, so the move makes total sense to us. Plus it allows for lots of potential Seattle Grace cameos… including plenty from Warren’s wife Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson).
“There’s this emotional moment of saying goodbye to people and giving hugs, then also I realized I’ll be back in about two months, so I’m not leaving home entirely.” George said of leaving the mothership show.
Other cast members include Grey Damon, Miguel Sandoval, Okieriete Onaodowan, Danielle Savre, Jay Hayden, Barrett Doss and Jaine Lee Ortiz.
The tone will still be very Grey’s-like, but also different
If fans had any fears that this new show will be totally off from the original they know and love, director and executive producer Paris Barclay (who has directed everything from Glee to Sons of Anarchy) maintained that people who watch Grey’s will be completely comfortable with this offering.
“It’s like having dinner at your uncle’s, but your mother is still cooking,” he explained.
“It’ll be similar and different. It was a priority for me in thinking about this as a Grey’s Anatomy spinoff that it works hand-in-hand with Grey’s and was similar in both tone and intensity and humour and heart,” McKee added. “But there’s also an added element to this show that a hospital setting doesn’t allow, which is that most of our characters are on site and in the middle of action sequences, so there’s a certain level of adrenaline and energy that comes with that that you don’t necessarily find in the same way at Grey’s. You find it in different ways. So, to me, it’s very similar in tone and spirit, but also a little bit different as well.”
This is a gender-equal show
You may expect a series revolving around firefighters to be a little male-dominant, but not in a 2018 Rhimes world, people. Everyone involved agreed that men and women will both be prominently featured at Firehouse 19, and three women specifically, including lead Ortiz, will have varying roles and be featured in positions of power.
“Traditionally, there are far more men than women in the world of firefighting,” McKee said. “But if you look at Seattle, it has one of the highest percentages in the nation of women in firefighting, so that was a really important aspect to me in thinking about setting the spinoff.”
Diversity continues to be a “thing”
It’s no secret that Shonda Rhimes hates the word diversity. She’s always been up front about the fact that she casts her parts blindly, not calling for specific races. That’s how Grey’s was so “diverse” in the first place back when it debuted. Well it’s the same thing with this spinoff, which she explained again on the panel.
“I understand that for other shows maybe, and for other people it’s a difficult thing for them to do, maybe because they don’t experience the world as a person of colour,” she said. “But it’s not that difficult to do, to me, and it’s not a thing that I set out to do. I look around the world and I see lots of different people, I look around the acting world and I see lots of different people. We cast the world as I see it. I don’t think that’s a special thing to do, I think that’s a normal thing to do. I think what other people are doing is a little bit abnormal.”
This will be one sexy series
These days, the #MeToo movement has caused a lot of critics and entertainment reporters to question the depiction of sex in the workplace. On a Shondaland series, sex in on-call rooms or other random spots is kind of the norm. It should also be pointed out that these steamy, must-watch scenes tend to be consensual and are not depictions of harassment.
Luckily, Rhimes knows the difference and will continue to bring the fiery steam, full-force.
“I don’t think sexual harassment in the workplace is tricky territory,” Rhimes defended to one critic who pushed the issue during a panel for her other upcoming series, For the People. “I don’t happen to find it tricky territory.”
Sounds like there will be lots of fires to put out when this firefighter drama premieres. We can’t wait.
The Grey’s Anatomy spin-off premieres with a special two-hour debut on March 22 at 9 p.m. ET on CTV. Grey’s Anatomy returns January 18 at 8 p.m. ET on CTV.