(This article contains some spoilers)
Since its inception in 2005, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy has gained immense popularity among its viewers. With a rating of 7.7/10 on the IMDB website, this show has created a stir in the world of women oriented television. In its successful run of ten years (and counting), creator Shonda Rhimes has catapulted the likes of Ellen Pompeo , Patrick Dempsey and Sandra Oh into the world of international fame by making them household names overnight. However the makers of the show are also infamous for ruthlessly killing off their most popular characters. When in 2009, George (T.R Knight), one of the most beloved characters on the show, unexpectedly died in a bus accident, viewers across the world were in shock and it seemed as if the show’s future was in trouble.
What the spectators did not know was that this death was just the first of many. In spite of the audience getting attached to the characters of Izzie (who abruptly departed from the show), Mark, Lexie and more recently Christina, the audience was forced to become more hardened as their favorite cast members were routinely let go of. Although one cannot compare this phenomenon to the happenings on Game of Thrones and other such shows, the fans of Grey’s Anatomy have been exorbitantly tested when it comes to maintaining their loyalty towards the show.
So what is it about Grey’s that keeps us hooked season after season,tragedy after tragedy? Does it have something to do with the good looking cast? Or the sharp visuals and witty writing? Is it to do with the engaging story line which consistently keeps you on the edge? The answer for all the above questions is a probable yes but the secret to the overwhelming popularity of the show lies elsewhere. It lies in Shonda Rhimes’ bold and unafraid storytelling that is uninhibited when it comes to portraying reality the way it is. The gritty, bittersweet, funny and vivacious depiction of things the way they truly are is what makes this show so relatable. And delectable. At the time when it was created, there were only a handful of shows that treated it’s characters as multi dimensional entities and even fewer that represented women and minorities. This struck a chord with mainstream audiences and hence the show never looked back and ran with great success in it’s span of ten years.
However, like all good things, this too couldn’t last forever. The recent death of Derek Shepherd (aka Mc Dreamy) was both unanticipated as well as out rightly disturbing. This tragic incident occurred just when Derek and Meredith were finally resolving their problems and settling down in life. Fans across the world were thrown into a lurch when their most adored character was abruptly killed in a car accident. Some might argue that this was a trope used by the makers to ‘shake things up’ and add another dimension to the show, in fact the makers themselves commented that this was done in order to show the journey of Meredith as an independent woman coming into her own, but for most of us, the tragedy lies not in the death of Derek Shepherd, but rather the show’s absolute departure from reality and authenticity. After suffering through car accidents, hospital shootings and plane crashes, it is logically improbable for a primary cast member to die in car crash due to carelessly looking at his phone at the wrong moment (this too right after he rescued four other people from a car accident).
Viewers across the globe have experienced a sense of loss at the demise of one of their dearest characters, but if one were to read the thousands of viewers’ comments on popular websites one can see that their anger is directed towards the complete suspension of logic which the show now demands. Patrick Dempsey played the better half of the show’s protagonist and since the show’s formation, spectators have been equally connected to his character if not more. The treatment of this particular plot twist has been shabbily done and the results have been artificial and inconceivable. Many speculate whether this is a consequence of ego struggles between Rhimes and Dempsey or just Dempsey’s wish to leave the show to pursue his first love of car racing. Either way, heartbroken fans have threatened to quit watching the show for good. Will this show recover lost love in Season 12? Will viewers forgive Rhimes and renew their faith in the new direction which the show takes? Only time will tell.