After starting his 19th season — yes, he’s 1-9 — on the TV premiere this month, Grey’s Anatomy it has long established itself as a reliable, not only dominating spot on ABC’s prime time, but occasionally elsewhere as well. And another part that made it successful from the beginning, was the relationship between the main character, Dr. Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Gray, and Patrick Dempsey’s character, Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd, who retired from the game in 2015.
Tuesday, GrayCreator Shonda Rhimes explained that how Meredith and Derek’s relationship began – they went home together after meeting at a bar – was news to some. At least Meredith’s actions were. And he wasn’t even happy when he found out the next day that Derek was his new chief at Seattle Grace Hospital, where he had been.
“I remember being called into a room full of adults,” Rhimes said 9 to 5ish And Skimm Podcast, “and he brought us in to tell me that the show was difficult because no one was watching shows about a woman who sleeps with a man the night before her first day on the job. And they were dead serious.”
Actually, they asked, after reading the pilot’s story, who would do such a thing, like get drunk and have a one-night stand with a stranger on the night before starting a new job?
Betsy Beers, who is Rhimes’ co-star on the show and many others, volunteered to do so. The man’s answer to the man’s unintelligible question surprised him and made him pause.
“They couldn’t call me a whore to my face,” Beers said. “They didn’t know what to say.”
The whole point was that Beers and Rhimes, who worked together on the show together Bad things, How to Avoid Murder and Bridgertonthey didn’t see women like them on TV.
“There weren’t even many shows with a woman in the middle,” Beers said. “That in itself was amazing.”
Rhimes said that later she realized why they did it.
“It sounds obvious now, I guess. But at the time, you have to remember that there had never been a show where there was a leading man who had his sexuality on television,” Rhimes said. “There weren’t any shows where you saw three or four black people in a room talking unless it was on a sitcom, with no one else in the room. You didn’t see much of what we were doing. I didn’t see them as people trying to make a difference. I thought, ‘We’re just making a show that I want to watch.’
Four Emmys and countless other awards later, still.
And the Meredith-Derek connection that the men in Rhimes’ story didn’t approve of has gone down in TV history as one of the most beloved by fans. Last month, the actors behind the characters, Pompeo and Dempsey, happily reunited at the D23 Expo, where they turned on Yahoo Entertainment’s microphone for a few laughs.