The following article has mild spoilers for seasons 1-11 of 'Grey's Anatomy'.
At 19 seasons and running, Grey’s Anatomy is one of the longest-running shows on American television. The medical soap opera was one of the first ‘grown-up’ shows I had ever seen. It feels like it marked my transition from childhood to adolescence.
The show follows the life and career of Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), a first-year intern at Seattle Grace Hospital as she struggles to come into her own as a surgeon while navigating the opportunities for friendship and romance at her new workplace.
The show was a phenomenon on debut, drawing in tons of people outside the usual daytime TV crowd with its excellent acting and gripping storylines.
In the eighteen years since Meredith started her Seattle internship, it’s safe to say that a lot has happened. As the show went on, the long array of tragedies headed our heroine’s way never seemed to end. But my interest in her story eventually did.
Patience had worn thin among the fans since season 8 as the drama was derailed by over-the-top storylines, car accidents and plane crashes. Many of the original group of interns who began their journeys with Meredith had left too. But the final straw for many was the announcement that Sandra Oh, who played Meredith’s best friend and fan favourite Christina Yang, would be moving on from the show in season 10.
Among fans, the ending of season 10 felt like the unofficial finale of the series and the true ending to Meredith’s story. When the very next season saw the shocking departure of another significant cast member, it felt like validation to fans who had given up on the show. We thought the story had long overstayed its welcome and had nowhere new to go.
After that, I thought I was done with Grey’s Anatomy. And for the past decade, I was. But the unexpected announcement that Ellen Pompeo would be leaving the programme, depriving it of its titular character, intrigued me. I wanted to see what had become of the beloved show and my old friend Meredith in all the time I was away.
Shockingly, by season 19, Meredith Grey was an exemplary case of meaningful character department. The departures in seasons 10 and 11 left me heartbroken. Still, there was no denying that separating Meredith from two of the people closest to her had allowed the character to blossom and come into her own.
In previous seasons, Meredith often felt lacklustre as a lead. She was stuck playing the straight man to stronger characters with more distinctive and magnetic personalities. But as these characters left the show, it gave the writers and Pompeo more room to explore Meredith.
In season 19, Meredith isn’t the doe-eyed intern who dropped kidneys during surgeries and was terrified of commitment. She is a single mother of three kids and the chief of surgery.
I had missed nine seasons of the show, but seeing Meredith as a confident, assertive, and well-respected surgeon was enough to erase the previous bitterness I felt at what the show had become. She may be moving on, off to a life away from our TV screens, but it felt like the right place to say goodbye to her – after all, she has become the person she was always meant to be.
Meredith now passes on the torch to a new group of young interns who, the series hopes, will keep fans coming back for a new phase of the show.
Surprisingly, I’m excited by the fresh faces at the hospital and the new and exciting storylines that could develop. As someone who loved much of the show’s early run, it seems inconceivable that this cast could live up to the one that has taken their bows. But, after a decade-long hiatus from the show, it turned out that I was wrong about the series falling apart after season 11. Maybe Grey’s Anatomy will prove me wrong once again.
This article is part of Stripe, bdnews24.com's special publication focusing on culture and society from a youth perspective.