‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Do People Hate Izzie Because of Katherine Heigl?

Of all the people who have come and gone on Grey’s Anatomy, one of the most controversial was Katherine Heigl.

Many fans felt that she turned on the show that made her famous, and she didn’t improve her image by continuing to make statements that raised eyebrows. Although she’s been gone for over 10 years, her character Izzie is widely disliked to this day.

But is all that negativity actually because of Izzie, or does it stem from how people feel about Heigl? 

Katherine Heigl as Izzie

Katherine Heigl on Grey's Anatomy
Katherine Heigl on Grey’s Anatomy | Scott Garfield/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

According to the NZ Herald, when Heigl landed the part of Isobel Stevens on Grey’s Anatomy, she was poised for a breakout role. She had already appeared in a handful of TV and movie projects, but she hadn’t yet found the one that made her a household name. But Izzie changed all that

When the long-running medical drama debuted in 2005, Heigl was one of the original five interns. She was depicted as a warm, caring, trusting person. Her friendships with Meredith Grey and Christina Yang endeared her to viewers, and her love life was fascinating. In 2007, she even won an Emmy for her work on the series. 

As Heigl’s fame grew, her career did too. In 2007, she starred in the comedy Knocked Up, then went on the next year to star in 27 Dresses. In that one year, her paycheck increased from $300,000 for the first movie to $6 million for the second.

Her star power was growing, she was a favorite to win another Emmy, and the future looked bright. 

But then all that changed. 

Controversial statements

Public perception of Heigl started to sour when she withdrew her name from the nominees for the 2008 Emmy Awards. 

“I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention,” she announced. The extraordinary statement was widely seen as a swipe at Grey’s Anatomy and the show’s creator, Shonda Rhimes. 

The same year, in an interview with Vanity Fair, Heigl made some statements about Knocked Up that also upset people, both fans and industry insiders. 

“It was a little sexist,” she said of the movie. “It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys. It exaggerated the characters, and I had a hard time with it, on some days. I’m playing such a bitch; why is she being such a killjoy? Why is this how you’re portraying women?”

Between the two statements, Heigl got a reputation for being difficult to work with. Rumors circulated about her behaving like a diva on the set of Grey’s Anatomy. After the sixth season, she left the show. In the years since then, she’s struggled to repair her reputation and continued to work as an actress, but she’s never been in another series as prominent and successful as Grey’s Anatomy

Fans of the series also soured on the character she left behind, Izzie. But some people think that the animosity toward Izzie is nothing more than a misplaced dislike for Heigl. 

Do people dislike Izzie or Katherine Heigl?

On Reddit, fans got into a discussion of “universal” opinions people have about Grey’s Anatomy and whether they are fair. People discussed thoughts such as if Lexie deserved to die or not, but then the subject turned toward Izzie. 

“Izzie was the best,” one person said. “The hate for her is so unwarranted and mostly based on personal feelings towards Katherine Heigl.”

Other commenters agreed, although a few pointed out that Izzie really did have some problematic behavior. “I agree, though I loved Izzie until I realized her bad traits are REALLy bad and it was just ugh.”

But others disagreed, saying that Heigl has recovered from the controversy, but that Izzie is still a deeply flawed character. 

“I don’t really think that people dislike Katherine anymore either. The reasons I have seen for not liking Izzie are all very valid, so saying that most of the Izzie hate comes from that seems very inaccurate.”

Whether Izzie is still an unpopular character because of her choices, or it has more to do with Heigl’s behavior isn’t clear. If nothing else, at least Heigl was able to portray a character that was compelling enough that viewers are still talking about her ten years later.