‘Grey’s Anatomy’: How Meredith’s Story Quietly Sent a Powerful Message

It’s been a roller coaster ride for Grey’s Anatomy fans lately. Over the past few months, fans have gone from seeing protagonist Meredith Grey finally opening up to love again to seeing her fight for her medical license and picking up trash on the side of the road.

Seeing Meredith banished from the operating room has been frustrating to say the least. For some, the storyline may seem like a ploy to rial up viewers’ emotions, but that’s not giving the story the attention it deserves.

A closer look at the ongoing drama on Grey’s Anatomy reveals a deeper commentary on the state of America’s healthcare system.

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ has never shied away from making a statement

Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey on Grey's Anatomy
Ellen Pompeo | Eric McCandless/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

At a time where it seems like everything on TV is either reality television or a legal or medical procedural, Grey’s Anatomy has found a way to stand out from the crowd.

The ABC series is midway through its 16th season, making it the longest-running medical drama in television history. How did it get here? Sure, millions of fans tuned in week after week to see McDreamy, McSteamy, and the latest McHottie, but that can only get a show so far.

What really made the show stand out was its no-holds-barred approach to busting through the barriers. 

Show creator Shonda Rhimes has always challenged the norms. From the very beginning, Grey’s Anatomy has had one of the most diverse casts on television. The show has tackled the issues of race, gender, and equality. The characters have commented on health insurance, gun laws, and most recently families separated at the border.

For the most part, fans and critics have applauded the show for changing the face of television and tackling difficult topics.

Meredith’s recent storyline quietly sends a powerful message

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The healthcare system in America has been a topic of debate for a long time now. So naturally, Grey’s chose to take on the subject head-on. When young Gabby came to Grey Sloan, her father was without insurance.

He didn’t make enough to afford private insurance, and as he later found out, he made too much to qualify for state insurance. Consequently, Meredith chose to use her own insurance to cover the girl’s treatment. 

While Meredith put her livelihood on the line, her decision brought a spotlight on a very real issue. Meredith made it clear that she felt she did the only thing she thought she could. Through subtle and not-so-subtle statements, the series examined how the system had failed this family.

The past several episodes have focused on the struggle to get insurance, the deficiencies in the healthcare system, and the focus on profits over patient care. 

The story’s not over

Season 16 Episode 8 brought to an end the question over whether Meredith would retain her medical license, but if we know Grey’s, there’s more to come with this story. Meredith has been adamant every step of the way that she made the right decision.

With at least one more season left, the show has plenty of time to explore the story deeper. 

Now that Meredith has returned to Grey Sloan will the hospital make changes to help patients in need? Will the show use this as an opportunity to show where there is room for improvement in the system and model the changes that need to be made?

With how much time Grey’s Anatomy has dedicated to this storyline, it would be shocking if it suddenly disappeared. Does the topic make people uncomfortable? Sure. Will things change? Who knows. The important thing is that the story has people talking. And that was the point all along.