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

After starting its 19th season — yes, it’s 1-9 — on primetime TV this month, Grey’s Anatomy has long established itself as a reliable hit, commanding not only a spot on ABC’s primetime schedule, but prime time slots in repeats. And part of what made it successful from the beginning, was the relationship between the main character, Ellen Pompeo Dr. Meredith Grey, and Patrick Dempsey’s character, Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd, who left in 2015.

on tuesday, Gray‘s creator Shonda Rhimes explained that how the relationship between Meredith and Derek began – they went home together after meeting at a bar – was an issue for others. At least Meredith’s actions were. And they were not at all impressed when she found out the next day that Derek was her new boss at a hospital called Seattle Grace Hospital, where she was a new resident.

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

Indeed, they asked, after reading the pilot episode, who would do such a thing, like 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 the show along with many others, volunteered that she would. The answer to the men’s rhetorical question may have shocked them and left them reeling.

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

<em>Grey’s Anatomy</em> producers Shonda Rhimes, left, and Betsy Beers are 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 are 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 whole point was that Beers and Rhimes, who have worked together in scenes involving It’s a shame, How to Run and Kill and Bridgertonthey didn’t see women like that on television.

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“There weren’t really many shows with a woman in the middle,” Beers said. “That alone was amazing.”

Rhimes says she later understood why they reacted this way.

“It sounds obvious now, I think. But at the time, you have to remember that there was never a show where there was a lead character who was owning his sexuality on network television,” Rhimes said. “There weren’t shows where you saw three or four people of color in a room talking unless they were on a sitcom, with no one else in the room. You didn’t see a lot of what we were doing. And I didn’t think they were rebellious. I thought, like, ‘We’re just making a show that I want to watch.’

Four Emmys and countless other awards later, still.

And that Meredith-Derek pairing that the men in Rhimes’ story didn’t agree with has gone down in TV history as one of the most fan-favorites. Just a month ago, the actors behind the characters, Pompeo and Dempsey, happily reunited at the D23 Expo, where they swiped the mic for Yahoo Entertainment for a few laughs.

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