As season 17 of “Grey’s Anatomy” arrives this Wednesday evening on TF1, we wondered if the medical series created by Shonda Rhimes was not reaching the end of what she had to say.
Season 17 still unpublished in France of Grey’s Anatomy arrives this Wednesday January 26 on TF1 from 9:10 p.m. Composed of only 17 episodes, against the usual 24, this new burst of episodes, placed under the sign of the Covid, sees the doctors at Gray Sloan Memorial being forced to say goodbye to the operating room in order to take care of the resurgence of patients with of the virus.
But doctors, however protected they may be, will not all succeed in escaping it. They will then seek comfort from each other, and sometimes more than friendship…
While season 18 is currently being broadcast across the Atlantic, and the medical series has already been renewed for a 19th burst of episodes, we wondered if Grey’s Anatomy was not coming to the end of all this she could tell.
Season 17 of Grey’s Anatomy is therefore punctuated by the Covid epidemic, which offered the screenwriters the opportunity to bring back key characters who have marked viewers over the years.
While Meredith is in a deep coma after contracting the virus, she meets some of her former colleagues on an imaginary beach. A way for Krista Vernoff, the showrunner of the series, to offer an escape from this season which is altogether quite depressing and distressing.
Patrick Dempsey, the unforgettable Derek Sheperd, Chyler Leigh, who camped Lexie, Meredith’s sister, Eric Dane, alias Dr Glamor and TR Knight, who lent his features for 5 seasons to Dr. George O’Malley, therefore made noticeable returns to the threads of the episodes.
If the first appearances made us smile and sometimes cry, the enthusiasm quickly died down. Seeing a key character come back from time to time is nice. Seeing a different one in each episode, with this feeling that the writers just wanted to please the fans from the start, is very quickly boring.
An absent Meredith
The star of the show, and has been since launch, is Meredith Grey. If the character embodied by Ellen Pompeo has always been the central element of the series, her loves, her friendships, her moods and her voice punctuating each episode, this has not really been the case in this season 17.
Indeed, at the end of the second episode, Meredith loses consciousness in the hospital parking lot. She is then admitted to Gray Sloane and placed in a coma in order to recover from the virus as best as possible. A coma from which she will only emerge in the last episodes. In doing so, Meredith doesn’t interact with any of the other doctors at the hospital for most of this season, and some of her storylines introduced at the end of Season 16 (notably her potential romance with Dr. Hayes) are thrown into stark relief. suspense…
Faced with this absence, fans even wondered if Ellen Pompeo was not considering leaving the series after 17 years in the skin of Meredith, this coma preparing for her inevitable departure. Grey’s Anatomy was only renewed for season 18 very late, suggesting the worst.
Thankfully, the new season, now airing on ABC, has brought Meredith’s character back to center stage. The mystery remains however whole on the reasons for this absence… The most plausible hypothesis being that the actress, for fear of catching the Covid, had asked to shoot only outdoor scenes to be safer.
An anxious season
The main problem with making a season entirely dedicated to Covid is that viewers who have experienced confinement, masks, fear of illness and sometimes even the death of their loved ones, do not necessarily want that a series, supposed to distract them from the worries of everyday life, reminds them for an entire season of the situations with which they may have been confronted.
Many series have chosen to integrate the Covid into their plots (we think of Good Doctor or This is Us to name a few) but the result has not always been up to par, people often reproach the anxiety-provoking side of this kind of initiative.
It must be said that seeing doctors wearing masks for a full season, or even sometimes full suits to protect themselves from patients, is not necessarily the most comforting vision in the world.
It is also perhaps for this reason that TF1, which had taken the habit in recent years of offering unreleased episodes of Grey’s Anatomy only a few months after their broadcasts in the United States, was so late in broadcasting this season. 17.
Of course, it would have been complicated for Grey’s Anatomy, which always strives to stay as close as possible to the news, not to address this subject. But maybe it should have ended sooner? Do only a few episodes on the pandemic, then put it aside a bit (as they did for season 18, currently on the air)?
This treatment of the epidemic also creates another problem: barely 1 year after its broadcast, season 17 is already dated. And will we really want, in 2.3 or even 10 years, to see this burst of episodes again? Not really…
Of course, not everything is to be thrown away in season 17. As usual, Shonda Rhimes, creator and producer, likes to tackle topics that make the news, and especially to highlight issues that people of color can meet, whether in the medical field or not.
And the end of 2020 was marked by the death of George Floyd, an African-American man, who died following his muscular arrest by police officers. A subject that she obviously could not put aside.
In episode 12 of this season, Richard Weber and Cormack Hayes go to a demonstration against police violence during which the latter is injured. In this same episode, many protesters are taken to the hospital, including a woman, Nell, whose story will deeply affect Jackson, who will question his actions and his place in the Avery Foundation.
This season also deals with racial bias in the field of medicine (most of the data and studies being based on a typical white male profile), but also with the post-traumatic stress of doctors who have had to face for months the daily deaths of their patients. There is also a striking scene where one of the doctors explains that he had to announce more deaths in a few months from Covid than in his entire career.
If season 17 was marked by the return of emblematic characters, it is also the scene of several moving and sometimes shocking departures. Without going into details, three actors present for several years will bid farewell to Grey’s Anatomy. Moving and sometimes surprising starts that surely saved this disappointing season.
Find season 17 of Grey’s Anatomy every Wednesday evening from 9:10 p.m. on TF1.