This post contains spoilers from past seasons of Grey’s Anatomy.
Grey’s Anatomy begins its 15th season tonight. I have been there from the beginning, and after 15 seasons, I will be once again enthusiastically tuning in. I get a lot of “You’re still watching that show!?!” Yes, and other people are too, because the network gave the show two more seasons and Ellen Pompeo a huge package to keep her as its star. The why am I still watching is more complicated.
Grey’s started at the end of my senior year of high school with an abbreviated season. When I moved to college in the fall, it was one of the first things I bonded over with the women on my hall. We came from different walks of life and we were there to do and accomplish different things, but we had one thing in common – shock over the fact that McDreamy was married and he hadn’t told Meredith.
At that point, Grey’s aired on Sunday nights and it became the constant in our end-of-weekend/beginning-of-the-week ritual. Over the course of four years, the roommates and the living rooms changed, but Grey’s remained the same. Sunday nights were sacred. In our senior year, the friend with the best living room got TiVo so sometimes Sunday afternoons or Tuesday nights were sacred. But, once again, Grey’s was constant. We even found time to watch the finale episode during Senior Week. It was the episode where George died. It was a rough one at a time when our emotions were already raw. But that’s the thing, I remember where I was and who I was with when George died (in the living room of friends’ house in my sweats on the Thursday before I graduated from college), when the plane crashed in the woods (in my last apartment of law school with my sister and roommates), when McDreamy died (with my best friend in the living room of the home I bought after graduating law school).
Grey’s followed me into adulthood. At a time when I was becoming who I would be, Grey’s was one of the few shows on television showing messy, resilient, funny, intelligent, ambitious women. And, it was one of the few shows that allowed those women to build each other up and be each other’s family. I looked around my various living rooms and saw myself surrounded by women who resembled the women on my television, and our friendships resembled the female friendships on my television (our romantic relationships were never quite as complicated or dramatic and there was much less sex in the on-call room).
Perhaps the most iconic of these friendships was Meredith and Christina. As they declared early on, “you are my person.” My best friends and I repeat to this to each other regularly. When someone needs a good cry, or a hug, or a long talk, or to dance it out, or help burying a body. (That last one is more of a theoretical than an actual example.) Grey’s showed us that your person, your soulmate is not necessarily a romantic partner – it can be the best friend who you call to share a drink or dance with, even if your miles apart. One of my favorite scenes of television is when Christina is leaving for a new job in Zurich and she and Meredith have their final “dance it out” together. Christina tells Meredith not to let her husband eclipse her – “He is not the sun. You are.” Christina’s big dramatic goodbye was not with a romantic partner, but with her life partner, and she left her with advice to be big, brave, and ambitious.
I still watch Grey’s for the drama, the explosions, the cliffhangers, and the sex in the on-call room. But, more than anything, I watch it for the relationships between wonderful, complicated, messy, fully formed women who feel real to me in a way few other shows have accomplished. Because I see these women in my workplace, in the grocery store, in the gym, and in my own friends.