After starting its 19th season — yes, that’s 1-9 — in the TV premiere this month, Grey’s Anatomy has long established itself as a reliable hit, commanding not only a spot on ABC’s primetime schedule, but timeslots elsewhere in reruns. And part of what made it successful from the beginning, was the relationship between the main person, Dr. Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey, and Patrick Dempsey’s character, Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd, who left the line in 2015.
On Tuesday, Graycreator Shonda Rhimes explained that the way the relationship started between Meredith and Derek – they went home together after meeting in a bar – was a story for some. At least Meredith’s actions were. And they weren’t at all surprised when she learned the next day that Derek was her new boss at Seattle Grace Hospital, where she was a new resident.
“I remember being called to a room full of grown men,” Rhimes said 9 to 5ish With Skimm podcast, “and they brought us in to tell me that the show was a problem because no one would watch a show about a woman who would sleep with a man the night before her first day of work. And they were dead serious.”
Actually, they asked, after reading the part of the pilot, who would do something like that, like get drunk and have a one-night stand with a stranger on the night of starting a new job?
Betsy Beers, who is Rhimes’ producer on the show and many others, volunteered to do it. The answer to these men’s question may have been a trifle that shocked them and hit them.
“They couldn’t call me a whore to my face,” Beers said. “They didn’t know what to say.”
The whole thing was that Beers and Rhimes, who have worked together on shows including Scandal, How to Get Away with a Murderer and Bridgertonthey didn’t see women like them on TV.
“There weren’t that many shows that had a woman at the center of the episode,” Beers said. “That in itself was amazing.”
Rhimes said she later found out why they did that.
“It feels obvious now, I think. But at the time, you have to remember that there was never a show where there was a leader of his sexuality on television,” said Rhimes. “There wasn’t a show 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 really think of them as rebellious people. I thought, ‘We’re just making a show that I want to see.’
Four Emmys and countless other awards later, they still are.
And the Meredith-Derek pairing that the men in Rhimes’ story didn’t approve of has gone down in TV history as one of the most beloved by fans. Just last month, the actors behind the characters, Pompeo and Dempsey, had the pleasure of meeting at the D23 Expo, where they swept Yahoo Entertainment’s mic for a few laughs.