Grey’s Anatomy has been nothing but a fan favorite since season 1 aired somewhere in 2005. Flash forward to season 13, and there is no doubt that it is still going strong. But what is it about this show that has viewers so intrigued? It’s no secret that some episodes leave us fans both shocked and maybe even a little heart broken, but yet we still keep coming back for more.
It’s hard not to give credit where credit is due, and in this shows case, fans owe it all to creator: Shonda Rhimes. Just to give some background information on the writer, she graduated from Dartmouth and received her Bachelors in literature and a masters in fine arts from USC School of Cinematic Television. Her love of television is what got her to where she is today, and one of her personal quotes (and my favorites) is “I don’t understand why people don’t understand that the world of TV should look like the world outside of TV.”
So now that we know just the basics on Shonda Rhimes, we can try and figure out what has made her television shows so successful. It only makes sense to focus on Grey’s simply because it is going on its thirteenth season, but we cannot forget about the fact that she has two other successful shows both Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. Each show focuses on a different path of life, one medicine, one politics, and one the law and maybe that is why viewers are very much into both shows because different people from all walks of life can relate. However, there is one reason that stands out among the others, one signal that shows that there is a reason why there is success and nothing but for the Shondaland franchise, and it is nothing other then the fact that each and every main character in her shows are strong, intelligent, woman. Meredith Grey (Grey’s Anatomy,) Olivia Pope (Scandal,) and Annalise Keating (How to Get Away with Murder,) are all the main characters of these shows, each taking on roles that surpass any role that the men in the show do. They deal with it all, from personal heart breaks, to crisis in the work place and I think that women relate to that. In a world where men are prioritized and praised, Shonda breaks that vision and in her own television shows makes these strong women the heroes. This example goes back to her quote from before, “I don’t understand why people don’t understand that the world of TV should look like the world outside of TV,” meaning women should be praised in the real world, just like they are in her awesome television shows.
Now, to focus on Grey’s Anatomy a little bit, it is easy to wonder how a show about a surgeon has lasted thirteen seasons (and counting) especially when throughout these seasons there has been some shocking moments. For example, the most recent shockwave that shook fans worlds, was Shonda Rhimes killing off none other than our very own McDreamy. First off all, Shonda kept this a huge secret from her fans, only saying that someone was dying but no one was sure who. I could bet that no one could have imagined it could have been Derek Shepherd. Him and Meredith were finally together, living the happily ever after that fans had so hoped for since the very first episode when she was just, “the girl in the bar.”
After the backlash and heartbreak outpouring from fans over Derek’s death, Shonda was asked how and even why she thought (or even knew) that she would still have a strong fanbase even without the heartthrob. Her logic was adequate, and to the die hard McDreamy fans we all are, it made perfect sense even though it did hurt. She explained it in an interview for the season 11 DVD, saying, “If he leaves his wife, willingly walks away from his wife and his kids, and never comes back, that’s basically like saying the love that they had is a lie. It didn’t exist. He is not the man we thought he was and I could not have that. For me, that was worse than almost anything. … We have to believe until the end of time that Derek Shepherd is McDreamy.” So as much as it hurts, she is not to blame and she did the character justice, which is what a good writer does.
I think that is what makes her so successful and so inspiring. She makes intelligent decisions based off of what the fans want. You cannot have a television show that is based off of happiness all the time, because it will get boring. Especially in a show like Grey’s Anatomy, where Meredith Grey has been a tragic character since the very beginning. There needs to be some drama, something that hurts fans, and makes us want to comfort and support the character who was either wronged or whose life was drastically changed like Meredith when Derek died. Shonda made sure that Derek had a special place in all of her viewers hearts by making him die tragically right after him pouring his heart out to Meredith. She did not wrong the character, and she still made references to him multiple times after his death in season 12. McDreamy will live on.
So, if I ever get the privilege of writing good television, I hope I write it like Shonda Rhimes does, with grace, with courage, and with intelligence, because it has gotten her thirteen seasons of a show that she also has said in an interview with Vulture has no ending. “I’ve stopped trying to know where we’re going to end up in the end because now it’s just a life. At this point, it’s 12 years. We’re inside Meredith’s life. I’m dying to know where her life ends up.”
Well there you have it, moral of this article: don’t be afraid to take risks and kill off main characters because it may just be the best decision you make.