It only took eleven seasons for the show to hit us with an episode that litterally explains the title Grey’s Anatomy. In the season 12 premiere, Meredith Grey teaches an anatomy course, and we feel like we’ve come full circle.
But have we? Full disclosure here, I used to be an avid Shonda fan. Despite the little things I found irritating in her writing, I thoroughly enjoyed Grey’s, I even became a Private Practice fan, and I loved How to Get Away with Murder when I binge-watched it last summer.
I remained loyal even though Shonda seems to sadistically enjoy putting her characters through the wringer. I watched as Meredith almost drowned, as she almost had a bomb detonate in her hands, as she lost her mother; I watched as Burke left (which wasn’t sad at all), as a bus hit George, as Izzie lost Denny and later got cancer and finally left the show. I watched so many disasters and hardships, so much loss and heartache, and I was hooked. I don’t know if that was because of all the drama-on-steroids, or in spite of it.
And then came the plane crash and it all went to hell. I don’t think the show recovered after that. We lost Lexie and Mark, Christina left (and boy was that storyline insane!), Arizona lost her leg and Meredith went into a downward spiral, because really, how many tragedies can one endure?
While we’re on the subject, how many tragedies can happen in one hospital, for God’s sake?
Still, I watched. I watched the new batch of interns grow into doctors, I watched our heros struggle with their faith and endurance and try to move on yet again.
But then came season 11. Yet another unbelievable storyline (because Burke giving Christina a clinic to run wasn’t impressive enough) takes Derek to DC, personally selected by the President to run a cutting edge research program.
Sure, I’ll buy that. What I don’t buy, what I refuse to buy, is that the glue that held the show together for a decade was slowly disintegrating because of Derek’s job. Because, of course, he and Meredith can’t stay happy for long. Whenever a blessing came along (their marriage, Zola, they birth son), disaster had to strike. And now that there seemed to be no kind of disaster left un-tackled by the show, their marriage had to crumble.
We spent most of Season 11 wondering what Derek was up to. He got little to no screen time last season, supposedly building up to Meredith’s big realization towards the end: she can live without him, but she doesn’t want.
And just when she finally gets that, she of course has to lose him. Derek’s demise was unexpected for most, not because it’s unlike Shonda to kill off a favorite character, but because she’s killed off way too many as it is. You don’t kill the hero and expect the show to move on. You certainly don’t kill the hero in such an unceremonious way, hit by a car while he’s saving people from a car crash.
The episode itself wasn’t bad. It wasn’t too good though, either. For the entire 40 minutes we watch Derek dying, unable to speak and possibly save his own life, but perfectly aware of everything going on around him, of every mistake his sub-par doctors are making in the process of trying to save him. We get an almost catatonic Meredith pushed into efficient mode instead of mourning. None of his friends, family and co-workers are there to big him goodbye, to pay their respects, to maybe give a heartfelt monologue about how Derek changed their lives. How he was the heart of the hospital, much as he was the heart of the show.
Tying up the rest of the season wasn’t an easy feat, but Shonda somehow managed to speed the process along by fast forwarding through the next few months. Meredith survived yet another tragedy – she simply had to. She now had another child to take care of, a fatherless child much like she was when her mother fleed from Richard. She’s always been terrified of becoming like her mother, and this is her big chance to turn things around.
After watching Derek’s death, I vowed I was done with Shondaland. I was done with the drama. I was done with unnecessary deaths. In a show like the Walking Dead, it’s pretty much expected. In a hospital drama, not so much. The patients are supposed to die sometimes, not the doctors. So I was done with it all.
… But of course, I wasn’t done at all. I’m too OCD to let a show go, especially one I’ve been watching for 11 years. So I decided to give the new season a shot.
It looks like the pilot is going its best to launch a reboot. Grey’s Anatomy 2.0, where the drama continues to be abundant, but the characters don’t seem as weighed down by their past misfortunes. They’re all grown up now, taking the reins and rebuilding their lives. It’s as if Derek et al never even existed. I’m sure I’m supposed to be indignant, to find this quite disrespectful, but for some reason, Shonda’s got me hooked again.
Let’s just hope she doesn’t kill off anyone else any time soon.