If you tuned into last week’s premiere of Grey’s Anatomy (Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/MT on CTV) then you were probably well aware that the halls of Sloan Memorial were missing two important faces in its two-hour debut: Dr. Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) and Dr. April Kepner (Sarah Drew). Sure, we knew the actresses wouldn’t be back in a full-time capacity for season 15, but that didn’t make their absences any easier.
Especially as Jackson (Jesse Williams) dealt with a near-death experience that made him reference his ex-wife one too many times, and Bailey (Chandra Wilson) stressed out looking for a new peds doctor (among other things).
Then there was the fact that the show hired on a new “ortho God” in the form of Nashville star Chris Carmack, and upped Kim Raver as Dr. Teddy Altman to a series regular. It all made us wonder: why couldn’t Grey’s keep on Drew and Capshaw? Not only were the actresses vocal about their shock from being let go last season, but they were fan favourites that felt representative thanks to their respective Christian and LGBTQ storylines.
As it turns out, letting the actresses go was a pretty tough call for showrunner Krista Vernoff. She finally spoke about the issue on Variety’s Remote Controlled podcast, revealing the show’s large cast and spanning stories forced her to make some difficult decisions.
“Look, I came back in season 14. I had been gone since season 7. When I arrived, we had 14 series regulars,” she said. “That’s an unmanageable number of series regulars to write for. Nothing has time to land. It wasn’t manageable.”
We can certainly see how that would be a problem. After all, there have been a ton of casting changes since the show’s inaugural season: aside from series lead Ellen Pompeo, Wilson, Justin Chambers (Dr. Alex Karev) and James Pickens Jr. (Dr. Richard Webber) are the only original cast members remaining.
“So I made some complicated and difficult decisions last season, but still I’ve got 10 series regulars who have been there for a long time and that allows me to bring in some guest stars to play with those series regulars,” Vernoff added. “The guest stars are often key to keeping things fresh and alive, giving people new energy. New characters to bounce off of.”
Considering Carmack’s chemistry with Pompeo in the premiere, we’d have to agree. Still, we miss Kepner, Arizona, their friendship, and the dramatic comedy they brought to the series. For now we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed that one or both of them will pop back in at some point. At the very least we should see Kepner once in a while, considering she and Jackson share a child… right?
Meanwhile, we’re looking forward to Wednesday’s all-new episode, in which Maggie (Kelly McCreary) confronts Teddy about the massive baby daddy secret she’s carrying, and Meredith forges ahead and works with that matchmaker patient to find herself a new love interest.
Sounds like we’re headed back to the on-call room sooner than we thought.
Watch new episodes of Grey’s Anatomy every Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET/MT on CTV and CTV GO.