The Grey’s Anatomy Season 17 finale aired last night. But don’t you worry, there’s still plenty of Grey’s to come. Last month, ABC announced that Grey’s Anatomy was renewed for the 18th season. The shown will extend its run as the longest-running primetime medical drama. Long-time fans like myself welcomed the news. The 17th season was lackluster, and I hope that next season gives us the farewell that we deserve.
As much as I enjoyed watching Season 17, it was lukewarm compared to the previous ones. Most of the episodes revolved around Meredith Grey, and I often lose interest mid-episode. I got tired of seeing old characters and would like to know more about the new crop of residents. It feels like the show is attempting to come full circle, but without the melodrama that we are used to. I am happy that this isn’t the end. Hopefully, the following season delivers the excellence that we are accustomed to and continues to inspire a new generation.
I was nine years old when Grey’s Anatomy first premiered. I started watching it when I was 11. I wanted to be a doctor at the time. I enjoyed the show, but I fell in love with Dr. Miranda Bailey. There weren’t many Black women in medical dramas back then, and she was the first that I ever came across. I wanted to be exactly like her when I grew up. Seeing Dr. Miranda Bailey was re-affirming. It was a sign that I, too, could be an extraordinary surgeon (if I worked hard enough).
I eventually got over my doctor dream, but I kept on watching Grey’s Anatomy.
I remember watching the credits and seeing Shonda Rhimes credited as the show-runner, head writer, and executive producer. I was curious as to which brilliant mind came up with such nail-biting storylines. Imagine my shock and happiness when I found out that she is a Black woman! I was deep into my storyteller phase, and I heavily invested myself in her work. Whatever Shonda Rhimes produces, I’m going to watch. Whatever book she writes, I’m going to read it.
Shonda Rhimes is a Hollywood powerhouse. Shondaland, her production company, has brought us amazing series such as Scandal, How to get away with murder, and, more recently, Bridgerton. But her shows go beyond raising millions of dollars; they have a real impact.
Rhimes is the reason why I love Grey’s Anatomy. She has worked hard to ensure that Black women have a space on prime-time TV. My favorite aspect of her work is how well she writes for Black women. Black women are more than just side characters that are meant to fill a quota. They are full-bodied characters that deserve great plot lines.
I’m willing to admit that I was skeptical when Dr. Maggie Pierce first debuted on Grey’s Anatomy. A big part of her story was around how brilliant she was and how she is a child genius. I thought that the writers had fallen into the trope where Black women have to be brilliant to get the time of day.
I was pleasantly surprised when her story moved from the workplace to her family and love life. We have watched her fall in love, lose that love and find love once again. We have watched her grieve her mother’s loss and find a new family with Amelia and Meredith.
It’s not every day that we find Black joy portrayed on TV. We are so used to seeing Black trauma and reliving our pain. While there is no problem with retelling important stories, it’s also important to showcase other parts of our lives. Grey’s Anatomy is not blind to the world’s issues. Some episodes explain racism in the medical industry and how Black women suffer the most. In one of the more recent episodes, Maggie and Bailey a conversation about how COVID-19 disproportionately impacts black people.
At the same time, the series also shows what love and happiness look like on Black women. Both Maggie and Bailey are in happy relationships with handsome (dark-skinned!) Black men. The show teaches us that successful Black women deserve love without suffering and they can get it. With Black female leads becoming more prominent, I hope that the showrunners follow Shonda Rhimes’ lead.
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