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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

'Grey's Anatomy' provides Thursday night 'comfort food'

“Grey’s Anatomy” is a television series that has redefined primetime dramas. Its conception started with the inner narrative of medical intern Meredith Grey, who provides a glimpse into the quirky, sexy and emotional social lives of Seattle Grace, now Grey Sloan Memorial, Hospital. Meredith’s experiences range from funny and lighthearted to raw and devastating. This is a difficult balance to achieve on television, which is why “Grey’s” is so noteworthy. Like a reliable recipe, creator Shonda Rhimes is the chef behind it all, adding key ingredients to create a product of which hungry viewers cannot get enough. “Grey’s Anatomy” has become America’s comfort food.

The new season attempts to return to its lighthearted roots after an emotionally strenuous season. After fan favorite Dr. Derek Shepherd, also known as McDreamy and Meredith’s husband, was killed, the show needed a serious pick-me-up. Rhimes decided to turn things around with a time-jump in order for the show, and Meredith, to finally move forward from tragedy. This entails more laughs, awkward situations and flings. However, last episode let emotions leak through in a rare chapter that took place entirely at a dinner party at Meredith’s house. Last season, Meredith’s emotions weren’t resolved after becoming a widow and, after last episode, she’s found some release: the doctor who was responsible for Derek’s death finds her way to Meredith’s residence for the party. It’s a traumatic, intense buildup to an emotionally climactic point for Meredith. This episode also served as a way to introduce this new doctor as a potential permanent character on the show. For all we know, Rhimes will progress from having the audience hate the new doctor for killing McDreamy to eventually loving her once we get to know her better.

Rhimes has perfected the craft of character development, and this is where the show thrives. The series is far from perfect; what leaves the audience wanting more is not necessarily the plot, but the characters. Rhimes is known to over-exercise the tear ducts of her viewers by offering characters and situations in which we cannot help but feel emotionally invested. This is why the show is on its twelfth season and does not seem to be losing momentum. “Grey’s” does something magical; it often ends the stories of characters we have grown attached to for years and years, creating devastation among the viewers. This breathes new life into the show by bringing in new characters that we end up loving just as much. When a character is killed off or exits in another typical “Grey’s” style, we cannot help but feel like we are saying goodbye to an old friend. I started watching the show when it premiered, I was eight years old, and I still do to this day. I don’t feel like I am ready to say goodbye to the “Grey’s” world I have grown up with, although it is inevitable that the show will soon end. Characters may have come and gone, but to me it still feels like the same old show. While it’s fictional, “Grey’s” has worked its way into the hearts of its fans and that feels real. Just as “Grey’s” frequently faces the notion of grief and death of a loved one, eventually “Grey’s” fans will have to do the same. We will have to say goodbye to the longtime friend that is always there for us on Thursday nights.

Are you a “Grey’s Anatomy’ fanatic? If you are, let Ben know at bagolden@wisc.edu.

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