‘Grey’s Anatomy’ creator Shonda Rhimes on show’s early rejection

After beginning its 19th season — yes, that’s 1-9 — on prime-time television this month, Grey’s Anatomy long ago established itself as a reliable hit, occupying not only prime-time spots on ABC, but time slots elsewhere in reruns. And part of what made it successful from the start was the relationship between the main character, Dr. Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey, and Patrick Dempsey’s character, Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd, who left the cast in 2015.

on tuesday, GreyCreator Shonda Rhimes explained that the way the relationship between Meredith and Derek began – they went home together after meeting at a bar – was problematic for some. At least Meredith’s actions were. And they weren’t at all impressed when she found out the next day that Derek was her new boss at what was then called Seattle Grace Hospital, where she was a freshman.

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“I remember being called into a room full of old men,” Rhimes said 9 to 5ish With the Skimm podcast, “and they came to us to tell me that the show was a problem because no one was going to watch a show about a woman who would sleep with a man the night before her first day on the job. And they were serious.”

In fact, they asked, after reading the pilot episode, who would do such a thing as get drunk and have a one-night stand with a stranger the night before starting a new job?

Betsy Beers, who is Rhimes’ producing partner on that show and many others, volunteered to do it. The answer to the men’s probably rhetorical question shocked and surprised them.

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“They couldn’t call me a slut to my face,” Beers said. “They didn’t know what to say.”

<em>Grey’s Anatomy</em> producers Shonda Rhimes, left, and Betsy Beers, pictured in 2017. (Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/vZQYTy2UuqaxCHFsW1O.cQ–/ YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MA–/https://s.yimg.com/os/creatr-uploaded-images/2022-10/e5ec6ae0-5642-11ed-bbcf-8f39d2e8c27a”/><noscript><img alt=Grey’s Anatomy producers Shonda Rhimes, left, and Betsy Beers, pictured in 2017. (Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/vZQYTy2UuqaxCHFsW1O.cQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MA- -/https://s.yimg.com/os/creatr-uploaded-images/2022-10/e5ec6ae0-5642-11ed-bbcf-8f39d2e8c27a” class=”caas-img”/>

Grey’s Anatomy producers Shonda Rhimes, left, and Betsy Beers pictured in 2017. (Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

The main thing was that Beers and Rhimes, who have since collaborated on shows including Scandal, How to get away with murder and Bridgertonwere not seeing women like themselves on TV.

“There weren’t even that many shows with a woman in the middle,” Beers said. “That in itself was a surprise.”

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Rhimes said she later realized why they got that reaction.

“It seems very obvious to me now, I guess. But at the time, you have to remember that there had never been a show with a main character who owned her sexuality on television,” Rhimes said. “There hadn’t been shows where you’d see three or four people of color in a room talking unless it was in a comic, with no one else in the room. You didn’t see a lot of what we were doing. And I didn’t think about them as groundbreaking. I was like, ‘We’re just making a show that I want to watch.’

Four Emmys and countless other awards later, they still are.

And that Meredith-Derek connection that the men in Rhimes’ story didn’t approve of has gone down in television history as one of the most beloved by fans. Last month, the actors behind the characters, Pompeo and Dempsey, happily reunited at the D23 Expo, where they swiped Yahoo Entertainment’s microphone for laughs.


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