TV & Movies

Why Grey's Anatomy Is *Still* Worth Watching

With such a diverse and attractive cast, killer soundtrack and endless stream of drama, it's no wonder I keep wanting more

There are two questions that I get asked all too often: “Like the Kardashians?” after I tell someone that I’m Armenian, and “Is that show still running?” when I bring up my favourite series, Grey’s Anatomy.

As a matter of fact, my intern lifestyle is extremely similar to Kim K’s (*eye roll*). And absolutely Grey’s Anatomy is still running, and I know I won’t get bored of it anytime soon.

Though the show first started in 2005, I only started streaming Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix a few years ago because of incessant recommendations from my friends—and guys, I’m forever grateful that I found my way into the light. Grey’s Anatomy is television gold and there’s a reason it’s one of the longest-running scripted U.S. primetime shows. When producer Shonda Rhimes first introduced us to Dr. Meredith Grey and McDreamy, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were still a couple and Juicy track suits were still popular. While both of those items went away over time, Grey’s Anatomy stuck around. No matter how many heartbreaking deaths, messy breakups, even messier hookups and unrealistic plot twists Rhimes throws our way, there will always be a dedicated fan base crying and live-tweeting along.

While there’s speculation that Grey’s Anatomy may end after season 16, the season 15 promo proves that there’s still so many storylines to be had at Seattle’s Grey Sloan Memorial hospital. I know I’ll be tuning in, and if you’re not already a Grey’s fan, here’s why you should too.

The cases may be a bit out there, but they’re fascinating 

Not many shows could put their characters through a plane crash, a mass shooting, a mid-surgery earthquake and a live bomb stuck INSIDE a patient and still captivate our attention. The more seasons of Grey’s Anatomy that you watch, the more you’ll question how Meredith Grey is still alive. This poor woman has been through an unbelievable amount of trauma and so many of her colleagues (including her beautiful husband Derek Shepherd, her best friend George O’Malley, her sister Lexie Grey and her mother Ellis Grey) have been killed off over the years. Every episode is more dramatic than the last, and even though a lot of the situations seem highlyyyy unrealistic (like, say, that time a surgical resident opened up a man’s chest with a clipboard), that only encourages me to click the “next episode” button faster.

But what’s so amazing about these wild scenarios and plot twists is that they never feel redundant or overdone—even 15 seasons later. This is in part because many of the cases are actually plausible. And while the show has been under fire many times for not accurately portraying what it’s like to be a surgeon, two of the show’s executive producers are real-life doctors and Rhimes encourages her actors to extensively research the procedures they’ll be acting to try to make them as believable as possible. Isaiah Washington (Dr. Burke) would even shadow actual surgeons on the job.

After 15 seasons, these characters feel like friends 

Seattle Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital is such an endless source of gossip that you’d think none of the doctors actually have time to practice medicine. With all the breakups and makeups and arguments, I’m left wanting more dirt after every scene—and the fact that there are dozens of blogs that exist solely for the purpose of digesting this drama proves I’m not alone. (It’s also slightly concerning that despite the frequent emergencies, I was more worried about the state of Cristina and Owen’s relationship than the freaking ambulance that drove through the ER.)

After investing serious time into a single show, it’s natural to get attached to long-term characters, and this sense of connection is what makes each storyline that much more exciting—especially for couples I shipped in earlier seasons who eventually get together.

The killer soundtrack never gets old

Every Grey’s episode is named after a song, which shows just how big of a role music plays in the show. Every time “Chasing Cars,” “Breathe,” or really, any Fray song comes on, I know I’m in for a heart-wrenching scene. Rhimes even helps with song selection, telling Oprah it’s one of the highlights of her job. In a Shondaland blog post, the show’s music supervisor, Alexandra Patsavas, said that even back when she was discussing the pilot episode with Rhimes, they wanted the music to be its own character.

As the show became more and more of a success, having a song featured on the show could lead to major airplay. Singer-songwriter Joshua Radin’s music has appeared on both Scrubs and Grey’s, and the impact was significant. “All of a sudden I’d written four songs and I had something like a 100,000 plays on MySpace,” Radin told BBC in 2010. “The audience found me—rather than me looking for an audience.”

So yeah, the Grey’s soundtrack is legendary—and has resulted in dozens of Spotify playlists. But please don’t ever bring up the musical episode. That’s all.

It’s one of the most diverse shows on network television

From the very beginning—long before diversity became a musical topic at the Emmy Awards—Rhimes actively made sure that the cast of Grey’s Anatomy was inclusive and challenged conventional casting.

“Take half the characters that you made men, and make them women. Take one character you were gonna cast one colour, cast them differently,” Rhimes said in her television writing Master Class. “I think it’s important for people to rethink because what people see on television changes what people think about themselves.”

Rhimes’ commitment to representing a variety of race, gender, sexuality and faith on Grey’s Anatomy has continued through the seasons. In season 14, the show introduced Dr. Dahlia Qadri, the show’s first hijabi intern, who used her hijab to save a young boy’s life in the season finale. When Dr. Qadri’s colleagues expressed surprise that she took off her hijab, she responded saying, “I mean it’s a symbol of my faith, but my faith is about service and compassion, and he was bleeding really fast.”

Season 14 also included the show’s first transgender intern, Casey Parker, played by actual trans actor Alex Blue Davis (instead of, say, Scarlett Johansson).

The women are smart, strong and complicated—just like women IRL

Rhimes put complicated women the forefront of Grey’s Anatomy. The producer told Oprah that growing up, she never saw women on television that were like people she actually knew in real life. “They felt like ideas of what women are. They never got to be nasty or competitive or hungry or angry,” she said. “They were often just the loving wife or the nice friend. But who gets to be the b-tch? Who gets to be the three-dimensional woman?”

Rhimes has been praised for her use of female leads, (Grey’s Anatomy’s Meredith Grey, Scandal’s Olivia Pope and How To Get Away With Murder’s Annalise Keating), but she made a point earlier this year that this shouldn’t be seen as a trendy casting decision, pointing out that the industry phrase “strong female lead” is actually condescending and regressive.

She puts women in the forefront because they are talented, make up half the population, and are entitled a seat at the table—not just for diversity points.

It raises serious, real-life social issues

Grey’s  deals with a ton of relevant social justice issues that many other dramas don’t touch. From episode 10 in season 4 when Dr. Bailey (who’s actually inspired in part by Rhimes’ mother) has to treat a Nazi, to episode 10 in season 14, where a police officer shoots an unarmed 12-year-old Black boy (who was then kept in handcuffs throughout treatment), there are a lot of incredibly important sub-themes in each episode to balance out the fluffy dating drama.

The social justice plot points woven within the storylines are timely and relevant, but they’re also valuable because they raise awareness of issues that many people don’t personally encounter or understand. Using characters to highlight the struggles of racism, sexism, domestic abuse, mass violence, addiction and mental health can make complex issues more accessible and spark important conversations.

I experience every human emotion in each episode

This show is truly an emotional roller coaster. (Maybe not as draining as This Is Us, but pretty close.) I go from ecstatic to an emotional wreck in a matter of minutes and while I may start an episode loving a character, the pendulum usually swings  by the episode’s end—but that’s why it’s the perfect show for just about any mood. That’s why I’m so excited for the season 15 premiere on September 27, and hopefully, a whole lot more Grey’s Anatomy to come.


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