In the mid-aughts, Shonda Rhimes took the world by storm with her romantic medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy.” While titular surgical intern Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) had a refreshingly unapologetic perspective on being a woman trying to get ahead in the medical field, the show was not immune to missteps. Meredith has had her share of romantic issues, some of which have not aged particularly well in the harsh light of retrospection.
Season 2 contained some admittedly over-the-top moments, including the love triangle between Meredith, Derek (Patrick Dempsey), and Addison (Kate Walsh). In a heartbreaking moment of weakness, Meredith reaches out to Derek, pleading with him to choose her over his estranged wife. “Pick me, choose me, love me,” she says. The moment became a hallmark of the series, but according to Pompeo herself, she was immediately shocked at Meredith’s desperation.
“When I read that scene, I was horrified. I was like, ‘I’m gonna beg a man?’” Pompeo recounted on her podcast “Tell Me With Ellen Pompeo.” She went on to recall, “I’m bawling because I was like, ‘I can’t believe that I’m on TV begging a man to love me.’”
The iconic scene comes full circle with another romantic interest
What has haunted “Grey’s Anatomy” as a wildly out-of-character moment was corrected with Ellen Pompeo’s bittersweet exit from the series. After deciding to move her family out of Seattle to support her children, Meredith has to contend with how to handle her paramour, Nick (Scott Speedman). The transplant surgeon is understandably upset that Meredith is leaving the hospital and their relationship, but she finally puts herself first.
“I want you in my life if you want to be in my life,” Meredith tells him. “But if I have to choose, I’m going to pick me.” It’s an obvious reference to her conversation with Derek and shows that Meredith has come a long way, much to the delight of fans.
“The ‘pick me, choose me, love me’ line got an upgrade,” @tvgoldtweets noted. Other fans were ecstatic about the parallels and how much she has grown over the decades. “[Meredith Grey] saying ‘i’m not going to beg you to love me’ in the SAME PLACE she begged derek to ‘pick me, choose me, love me’ is giving CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT,” @captaincalzona exclaimed.
If Meredith Grey had to go out, there was no better way. Derek was the great love of her life and she made sacrifices for him. And though he will always be significant, she can now admit that she is just as important.
I’Ve Been Watching Grey’S Anatomy Since The Beginning, And I’M Finally Ready For It To End
In March of 2023, “Grey’s Anatomy” was renewed for a landmark 20th season, marking almost two decades on television and continuing its streak as the longest-running medical series in TV history. For the third time, the series will be helmed by a new showrunner — after Shonda Rhimes kicked things off, her right-hand woman Krista Vernoff took over for several years, and now Vernoff will be succeeded by Meg Marinis. As the show approaches a whopping two decades, fans know there’s been a ton of seismic shifts in the cast, the creative direction, and the general trajectory of the show … and you know what? We’re really tired of it, actually.
“Grey’s Anatomy,” as everybody knows at this point, is named for Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Grey, the series protagonist. Pompeo left the show in February 2023. For some godforsaken reason, the show is still running. I’ve been watching “Grey’s Anatomy” since it first premiered, and I’m ready for it to take a final bow and just end already.
Grey’s Anatomy hooked me from the very beginning
I remember when “Grey’s Anatomy” arrived on the airwaves approximately 65 years ago. I was in high school (look at me, showing my age) when the show premiered as a mid-season replacement in January 2005, and I was hooked immediately. The pace was fast and snappy, Meredith was immediately likable to me — partly because, even from the show’s early days, she was kind of a grump, which I loved — and characters like Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) had my full attention from the jump. Throw in Patrick Dempsey’s luxurious hair and some wild medical cases, and I was sold.
Reader, I was so sold — and this is one hundred percent true — that I genuinely thought I would become a surgeon because I loved “Grey’s” so much. At the end of high school, we had to do internships. I somehow arranged to shadow a cardiac surgeon for three weeks. Eventually, reality caught up with me, meaning that I am terrible at both math and science and abruptly abandoned a pre-med track during my first semester of college when I almost failed chemistry (not organic chemistry — I almost failed general chemistry). Patients across the Eastern seaboard were saved from me, thankfully, but Shonda Rhimes was nearly responsible for a dingbat like me making life or death decisions.
The early seasons of Grey’s Anatomy are pretty great, and I won’t hear otherwise
Look. I get it. There’s a lot of stuff to make fun of in “Grey’s Anatomy.” In the second season — which I actually think is one of the best ones! — there’s a truly absurd two-part episode where both Christina Ricci and Meredith end up steadying an unexploded homemade bomb in a guy’s chest cavity. There’s some fuss over oxygen lines, Coach Taylor from “Friday Night Lights” goes kablooie, and it’s … well, it’s silly. If we’re being totally honest, the actual medical stuff on “Grey’s Anatomy” is uniformly insane, but you know what? That’s kind of the fun of it. Season 2 is heightened and absurd, but it’s also a wild, thoroughly enjoyable ride, filled with characters you can’t help but love. What more do you people want out of a TV show?
I will also be the first to admit that some of the the show’s dialogue is clunky — Meredith’s “pick me, choose me, love me” speech comes to mind alongside a few others — but say what you will about Shonda Rhimes. The woman knows how to write a monologue, and she honed this skill in early seasons of “Grey’s” before penning powerhouse soliloquies for Joe Morton on her next series, “Scandal.” The dialogue has a “Gilmore Girls” quality to it. It’s quick, snappy, it moves, and when it works, it just works.
Also, not for nothing? The Season 6 two-part finale with a gunman roaming the hospital is better drama than the entire last two seasons of “Game of Thrones.” Go ahead. Fight me.
Grey’s Anatomy had a renaissance after Season 11
When Meredith’s husband and original series character Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) died in a car accident in Season 11 (which is a pretty pointed way to go considering that it was rumored that Dempsey wanted to leave the show so he could spend more time racing), a lot of fans thought that event might be the time for the show to pack it up already. What actually happened, though, is that “Grey’s Anatomy” kind of hit a new stride in the post-Derek years. Without a husband to argue with, Meredith got more powerful and self-assured — and luckily, after the dismal plot arc that was Nathan Riggs (Martin Henderson), the show took a long time to reintroduce a love interest.
In the 300th episode, Meredith wins a Harper Avery (the show’s fictional major medical award), following in her famous mother’s footsteps, and, well, it’s a touching moment! For fans who stuck through it all, even the ghost sex and the deer CPR and the horrible plane crash, watching this plucky young intern be anointed as the future of general surgery was pretty exciting. This was in Season 14, and it still felt a bit like the show could keep going. Then it all came crashing down in a pretty spectacular way
Grey’s Anatomy officially died even before Meredith left
Obviously, it’s naive to think that a medical show could or would ignore the realities of COVID-19, particularly the early months of the pandemic where there was no sign of a vaccine just yet. “Grey’s Anatomy,” obviously, used the pandemic as a major plot point to illustrate how hard it was on first responders, and nobody is overlooking their attempts at representing this struggle. It was also really, really hard to watch, and putting Meredith in a coma for pretty much the entire season didn’t help anything.
Fact is, “Grey’s Anatomy” started losing its spark around Season 17, and as it continued into Season 18, it just felt … dull. The absurdity and fun and thrill the series once held, for all its ridiculous stupidity, was just gone, and it didn’t seem like it was coming back. When Pompeo announced her departure, it became immediately apparent that said spark was dead and gone. After all, as Pompeo famously said when arguing for a higher paycheck, the show is called “Grey’s Anatomy.” She played Meredith Grey. So what are we even doing here anymore as we approach Season 20?
Grey’s Anatomy just needs to hang up its stethoscope
Without Meredith — who, if we’re being really honest, was seriously spinning her wheels by the time she left Seattle — there should not be any more “Grey’s Anatomy.” The show is valiantly trying to do what “E.R.” used to do by adding in a new class of interns for us to care about, but “E.R.” had the good fortune of not being called, like, “This is a Show About Doug Ross,” so it wasn’t the end of the world when George Clooney left. Also, the new interns are … just sort of boring, and the characters who remain — aside from originals Wilson and James Pickens, who plays Richard Webber — have become kind of insufferable. Kim Raver’s Teddy Altman and Kevin McKidd’s Owen Hunt are currently waging a war for the title of most irritating TV character, and we are all losing. The show feels exhausted and boring, and not one of the new interns have the charisma of the originals. There’s no Cristina Yang here that would have made high school Nina think, “I want to pick up a scalpel too.”
We’re veering into dangerous territory here — like, “Scrubs: Med School” territory. Rhimes herself has said she no longer knows how the show will end, and let us be clear: that’s a really bad thing. Figure it out, Shonda. I’m begging you. “Grey’s Anatomy” is the longest relationship of my life, and I’m even ready to call it quits.