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Opinion

The Brilliance Behind 'Grey’s Anatomy'

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Small town critic
October 3, 2019

Grey’s Anatomy is the longest-running scripted show on ABC, having been on the network for 15 seasons with 300+ episodes. It has been so popular that it has even spawned two spin-off series.


Grey’s Anatomy is a medical drama, which follows a group of young doctors at Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital in Seattle, WA. While it is easy to lay the show’s success entirely at the feet of the actors, often overlooked are the writers.


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As with any film or TV show, the writers are massively important--they give the actors characters to work with; they create the situations; the dialogue; and the overall tone of each episode. Grey’s Anatomy has one of the best creators/writers in Hollywood, Shonda Rhimes. That name should sounds familiar--Rhimes has written and created shows like Scandal, Private Practice, and How to Get Away with Murder.


Due to her spell-binding writing skills, it is no wonder that she has successfully created a thriving writing empire. You might be asking to yourself what makes her writing so fascinating? There are several things that she has done with Grey’s Anatomy that really showcase why people love her writing.


One of the first things she said about Grey’s is that she didn’t want it to be a melodrama and that she doesn’t believe in “EARNEST SAPPY MOMENTS”. (Those are her words, caps lock and all.) I think fans respect that, and so they don’t feel that their emotional investment in the characters is misplaced.


Speaking of characters, Rhimes knows her characters so well that she even knew what items they have stocked in their medial lockers.  In her character descriptions, Shonda included the contents--even some things like high heels and old birthday cards--for all the main character’s hospital lockers so that she could really get a feel for their personalities. This facet of her writing is very much appreciated by fans and shows the depths she goes to making sure she understands the characters personalities, as well as their motivations.


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The level of detail she knows about her characters doesn’t always make it into the script, but it is always in the forefront of her mind when she is writing about them. Like how one of the doctor’s mom owned a restaurant in Alabama--this affected how that particular character interacted with others, even though the audience didn’t know this small detail.


Grey’s Anatomy actually changed the way that Rhims writes her characters.  After observing the actors who were cast in various roles, she decided to no longer use physical traits to describe her characters, but instead she uses things like feelings, emotional history, and aura. Rhimes feels this is a more authentic way to get across who a character really is to the audience.


Who is your favorite Grey’s Anatomy character? What is your favorite Shonda Rhimes’ film or television series? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


As always this is the start of a conversation. Please let us hear your thoughts in the comments below!


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