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

This month, it began its 19th season — yes, that’s 1-9 — in the primetime telecast, Grey’s Anatomy has long since established itself as a reliable hit, earning not only a spot on ABC’s primetime schedule, but elsewhere in reruns as well. And part of what made it successful from the start was the relationship between the main character, Dr. Ellen Pompeo’s Meredith Gray, and Patrick Dempsey’s character, Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd, who left the cast in 2015.

On Tuesday, GrayCreator Shonda Rhimes explained that the way Meredith and Derek’s relationship started — after meeting at a bar and going home together — was a problem for some. At least Meredith’s actions were. And they weren’t charmed at all when she found out the next day that Derek was her new supervisor at what was then 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 on 9 to 5ish with Skimm podcast, “and they brought us in to tell me that the show was a problem because no one would watch a show about a woman who slept with a man the night before her first day on the job. And they were dead serious.”

In fact, they asked after reading the pilot episode, who would do something 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 this show and many others, volunteered. The answer to the probably rhetorical question shocked and rattled the men.

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

Producentki filma <em>Grey’s Anatomy</em> Shonda Rhimes, left, and Betsy Beers 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 Shonda Rhimes, left, and Betsy Beers 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 since worked together on shows including Scandal, How to get away with murder and Bridgertonthey didn’t see women like themselves on TV.

“There haven’t really been that many shows with a woman at the center,” Beers said. “That in itself was surprising.”

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Rhimes said she later realized why they got that reaction.

“I think it seems really obvious now. But at the time, you have to remember that there had never been a show on network television that had a main character who owned their sexuality,” Rhimes said. “There weren’t shows where you’d see three or four black people in a room talking, unless it was a sitcom, with no one else in the room. You didn’t see a lot of the stuff we did. And I didn’t really think about them as revolutionary. I was like, ‘We’re just doing a show that I want to watch.'”

Four Emmys and countless other awards later, they still are.

And this Meredith-Derek relationship, disapproved of by the men in Rhimes’ story, has gone down in television history as one of the most popular among fans. Just last month, the actors behind the characters, Pompeo and Dempsey, happily reunited at the D23 Expo where they grabbed the Yahoo Entertainment mic for some laughs.

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