‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Will the Pandemic Save the Show or Push It Closer to Cancellation?

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown a wrench into many movie productions this year. Many have had to call it quits or take a hiatus, with various shows facing numerous filming delays. When these shows eventually got back into production, they decided to make small changes. Most of the shows decided to incorporate the ongoing pandemic into their storylines. Grey’s Anatomy is one of those shows that had an easier time adding the coronavirus plotline into the show as it is set in a hospital.

There have been speculations for some time now about the show’s possible ending, and with the protagonist having contracted the disease, fans think the show might be ending. So will the pandemic save or push the show closer to its finale?

Grey’s Anatomy’ is tackling COVID via one pivotal character

Grey’s Anatomy season 16 was cut short due to the actual COVID 19. The showrunners announced that they would do away with the unfilmed episodes and instead incorporate moments of them in the upcoming season.

In the 17th season, the doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital are weeks into coronavirus with occasional flashbacks of what they’d been up to pre-pandemic. Meredith explains that she’s been working back-to-back dealing with several COVID-related deaths.

As she gets off work, she collapses in the parking lot and unconsciously finds herself on a beach. She hears someone calling her, and looking into the distance, she spots her deceased husband, Derek. After receiving a CAT scan, Meredith and the other doctors realize that there might be something more to her than exhaustion.

It was later revealed that the Harper Avery Award-winning doctor tested positive for coronavirus. At one point, it seemed as though after a round of drugs, Meredith was recovering but crashed again. The showrunners noted that they wanted Meredith’s experience with COVID-19 to be as realistic as possible. Therefore, they spoke with actual doctors and realized that patients always had a sudden energy surge before crashing.

Fans had mixed reactions to the storyline

CAMILLA LUDDINGTON
CAMILLA LUDDINGTON | Raymond Liu via Getty Images

For most people, watching tv is a great way to escape from the harsh realities, especially the ones going on at the moment. So when Grey’s Anatomy announced that they’d be tackling the COVID storyline, fans didn’t know what to think.

Although some fans thought it was a great way for the show to display solidarity with frontline workers and to show their experiences firsthand, others felt it was too overwhelming. A section of fans felt overwhelmed with the pandemic storyline and found it difficult getting through an episode.

Showrunner Krista Vernoff herself had to be convinced to do the storyline. Vernoff said that she didn’t want to do the COVID storyline because she wanted fans to be able to relax and watch the show without seeing the world’s current reality being mirrored through their favorite program.

However, the show’s medical staff convinced Vernoff that it would be an irresponsible move to ignore the pandemic since Grey’s Anatomy was “kind of the biggest medical show.” She took the stories to heart and decided to go with the storyline.

Will the pandemic close the lid shut on the show

Grey’s Anatomy has been on the air for 17 seasons now. In 2017, Ellen Pompeo and creator Shonda Rhimes agreed that they wouldn’t end the show until they were both done. Pompeo has said in previous interviews that she wants to end the show while on a high.

Although the showrunners and stars have been economical with the details about its ending, many fans feel like this season could be the last. Fans took to Reddit to theorize about the recent season and why they feel it’s the last.

One fan said, “I thought this has been a quite good season. Both returning characters and how they are dealing with COVID and how it’s affecting the cast”. From the various ideas thrown around, it seems fans are divided on whether Grey’s Anatomy can continue after the pandemic.