Why Grey’s Anatomy is so popular


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Mariam Hanna, Co-editor-in-chief

Every Thursday at 9 p.m., Grey’s Anatomy fans get ready to watch another jaw-dropping, nerve-wracking, gut-wrenching, heartwarming episode that will be sure to leave them in their feels. With 16 seasons, 338 episodes, 2 spinoffs, and 3.7 million viewers, Grey’s Anatomy has become the longest running medical drama, surpassing hit show ER that ended in 2009 with 15 seasons. Grey’s premiered in March of 2005 and has not stopped shocking viewers everywhere, constantly keeping them at the edge of their seats laughing, crying, or a mixture of both. It’s uncommon for a TV series to stay on air for a decade and a half and still attract viewers, so how is Grey’s managing to do this? 

If there is something that Shonda Rhimes, the producer of Grey’s Anatomy, does not shy away from, it’s plot twists. Whether it’s something small (at least relatively small) like Preston leaving Christina at the altar, or something absolutely enormous like Derek Shepherd dying in a car accident, the constant changes to characters and their lives keeps viewers watching and brings back old ones. Imagine watching a show for 5 or 6 years and getting a little sick of it. You don’t watch it for a couple of years, but then you hear that Derek Shepherd, one of the major characters you loved, was killed off. Wouldn’t you want to see what happens next? All of these plot twists and  unimaginable scenarios are what make viewers want more and what keeps the show going. 

With this comes another major reason Grey’s is still so popular- how much it makes fans truly feel as if they are friends with the characters. They watch these characters for a long time. They’re part of their paths growing up and they feel as if they’re part of theirs. They feel emotionally attached to them, and they feel the sense of commitment to continue to be part of their lives by tuning in to the next episode. Grey’s fans would be lying if they said they didn’t cry over Derek’s death (heck, I couldn’t get off the couch for hours). They watched him pine for Meredith, and when they were finally getting their happy ending, it was taken away from them. Them being both MerDer AND the viewers, of course. That’s the thing about Grey’s Anatomy- it’s not just a show, it’s a lifestyle. Christina, Lexi, Mark, April, Callie, Arizona, Addison, Denny, Susan, George, Derek, Alex. Those are the names of the most beloved Grey’s characters who have left the show because they moved or died. You, a Grey’s fan, can’t tell me that you didn’t feel part of your heart shatter when you read those names just now. That’s what Shonda Rhimes does! She pulls you into the Grey’s Anatomy world, makes you fall in love with the characters, and then strips them away from you. You want to put her in prison for all that she’s done, believe me I get it, but you keep on watching! Her methods work!

While this may seem paradoxical figuring I just explained how Grey’s is constantly changing, it’s familiarity in fans’ lives keeps them watching.  We live in a world where anything could happen at any moment. Temperatures are rising, wars are starting, and this country is more divided than it’s been in centuries. With all the constant stress around us, we lean on the things that we know will be there for us no matter what. And one of those things is Grey’s Anatomy. With it having been out for almost 15 years, it is something familiar, something we can rely on- just like family, just like friends. It’s one of the few things in viewers lives that they can expect. Turning on the TV at 9 on a Thursday night to watch the newest episode of Grey’s, fans know that they’re about to witness some crazy things. They can expect that, and that familiarity provides them with comfort. It makes you keep on watching because you want that comfort in your life forever. 

However, no matter how familiar Grey’s Anatomy is to it’s fans, there’s never a dull moment. A plethora of shows have lost viewers in their later seasons because they were redundant, repeating the same plot line over and over again. This is untrue for Grey’s Anatomy, though. The patients always seem to have the craziest medical phenomenons (getting stuck on a pole, getting buried in concrete, having a bomb inside you, etc.) and the characters are going through the most unthinkable experiences (I mean who finds out they have a sister two different times?!). That’s the other thing! As humans, we turn on the TV as an escape from reality. We have our own problems, and a lot of the time, watching other people deal with an exaggerated version of our own problems isn’t how we want to spend our time. The characters in Grey’s Anatomy, however, do not deal with the same issues we do. At least not the ones I do, and I’m fairly certain not the ones most of you do either. I’m just a 16 year old girl sitting on her couch at 11:30 at night writing this. I don’t work in a hospital where every day somebody comes in with a mysterious disease or an extremely strange problem. My love life isn’t all over the place, and I’m not dealing with a tragic death every 5 minutes. Because of all this, Grey’s provides an excellent source of entertainment and a perfect way to forget about my own life and dive into somebody else’s. I can’t be the only one, right??

On a more serious note, Grey’s has changed with the world and with society. Although it premiered in the early 2000s, It has been able to keep up-to-date with modern world problems. Grey’s has featured things like gender reassignment surgery, openly Gay and Lesbian couples, the #MeToo movement, and rape. While it’s only been 15 years since the series was created, all of these topics have become much less taboo, and the producers of Grey’s Anatomy are doing a great job keeping on top of everything, making sure it evolves and doesn’t get stuck in the past. The fact that it is moving along with the viewers lives is another, more subconscious, reason they keep on watching. 

Grey’s Anatomy is one of the most beloved and widely  streamed TV shows. It has been a fan favorite for almost 15 years, and it’s not hard to see why. This is all just leaves me wondering,  how much longer will it go on?