Since its first episode aired on March 27, 2005, Grey’s Anatomy has experienced monumental success. Every week when the show airs, millions of fans tune in to watch their favorite surgeons and develop connections to each character as they watch their lives unfold. Additionally, an entire separate influx of supporters waits for months to watch the episodes once they appear on popular streaming services.
Throughout the first few seasons of the series, both the cast and behind-the-scenes members have won multiple Golden Globe awards. In 2005 Sandra Oh, who played Christina Yang, won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress-Series of TV Film, and in 2006, Ellen Pompeo won the Golden Globe for Best Actress-Drama Series. The show even won the Golden Globe for Best Drama Television Series in 2006. Additionally, from 2005 to 2012, the show was nominated for countless Primetime Emmy Awards.
Recently, however, Grey’s Anatomy has started to receive fewer nominations from more prestigious award shows. Regardless, they still receive awards from the People’s Choice Awards, implying that while the quality of the show’s episodes is dwindling, the fan base has stayed loyal and continued to enjoy the show, and the show’s popularity remains strong.
Many fans have expressed that they feel a sense of obligation to continue watching the show as they have already dedicated so much time to it. In recent years, many teenagers have found a love for the original cast for the show, but feel disappointed when they get past a certain point. This change in the cast as many originals have left the show has created a negative outlook around the later seasons.
Grey’s Anatomy also has created a history of the killing off of characters when the actors decide to leave the show. Medical shows in general are very formulaic, so in order to add variety, the killing of characters has become a major plotline. When writers don’t kill off characters, they oftentimes choose to ruin the storylines and character development, such as with Callie Torres, Arizona Robbins, and Alex Karev.
In 2019, Grey’s Anatomy broke ER’s status as TV’s longest-running primetime medical drama. While this is an incredible accomplishment and should be celebrated, this longevity means that most of the originally loved cast members have long since left the show – leaving only Meredith Grey, Miranda Bailey, and Richard Webber from the original cast. The plot of the show follows a group of doctors from being surgical interns to attendings. However, this original concept has long since been abandoned. Instead, Grey’s Anatomy has begun to tackle important social issues within its episodes, such as police brutality and the inadequacy of the United States healthcare system.
While it is important for these issues to be addressed, viewers still crave the drama and get an inside look at the characters' social lives. Ultimately, the topics in the show have matured with the characters.
This may be why Season 18 of Grey’s Anatomy drew the smallest premiere in the show’s history at only 4.77 million viewers as compared to their typically higher numbers. Much of the audience feel as though the show has run its course and the original premise of the show has already come full circle. Could the continuation of the show take away from the creative genius of its earlier cherished seasons?