There are long running TV shows, and then there's Grey's Anatomy. ABC's medical drama recently wrapped its whopping 16th season on the air, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Those of us who have been following the surgeons of Grey Sloan Memorial hospital for over a decade (with various other names for the hospital) know what to expect at this point, and which issues we should probably not overthink. After all, nobody said Grey's was a perfect piece of television history.
I'm one of those die hard Grey's Anatomy fans who will continue tuning in until the show comes to an end (if that ever happens). In order to remain committed to the cause and my surgeons in Seattle, I've had to let go of some continuity issues and suspend my disbelief as I tune in. There are currently five big aspect of Grey's that you shouldn't overthink, listed below. So scrub in and get ready to do a deep cut.
What Year It Is
I'm going to be honest, I have no clue what the year it currently is on Grey's Anatomy. Time has always functioned differently on the series, allowing the writers to take the character's stories wherever they need to be. While the first three seasons made up the original group's intern year, time began to kick up in the seasons that followed. We first began skipping time for events like Cristina's ill-fated honeymoon or the holiday season. And while we could more or less keep up with what year it was, the past five seasons or so have really blurred concept of time on Grey's Anatomy.
As Grey's Anatomy went on, the time jumps ended up becoming more severe. For instance, McDreamy's death in Season 11, Meredith left Seattle and lived in San Diego for an entire year. In Season 12's mid-season finale, Meredith is brutally attacked by a patient and recovers over a series of months. We've seen a number of characters become parents in the show's later seasons, as their professional lives grow with their careers. But time also moves largely depending on plot points, and where the character's surgical careers need to be. I've got no clue what year of residency Andrew DeLuca is, or how far along Glasses and his friends are. Although time did seem to catch up for a while there once the hospital started using iPads.
Who is taking care of Meredith's kids?
Meredith Grey is a very busy lady. On top of narrating every episode of Grey's Anatomy, Ellen Pompeo's beloved protagonist is the head of General Surgery at Grey Sloan Memorial, has a dating life, and is the single mother of three children. The kids themselves mostly function as tertiary presences in the show; Derek and Ellis haven't been given any real plot lines at all. Only Zola occasionally gets a line here or there, usually just to hold the mirror up to her mother when the plot needs it.
Parents who watch Grey's Anatomy may wonder, who the heck is taking care of Meredith's kids all season long? She's obviously got some built-in support with her sisters Maggie and Amelia, as well as the means to afford paid help. But this subject is rarely broached, especially in Season 16. For instance, the finale saw Meredith and Andrew DeLuca camping out in the hospital in hopes of finding a cure for Webber's mysterious ailment. While Maggie mentions that Zola was asking for her, no one seems to concerned about Meredith's absence from her home life. But in the end the fans just have to suspend disbelief and go for the ride; it's only a matter of time before one of the kids end up on the hospital for one reason or another.
The Station 19 Crossovers
Station 19 isn't the first Grey's Anatomy spinoff to air on ABC, as Private Practice had a long run as well. But showrunner Krista Vernoff has made an effort to merge the fictional Seattle universe, and have the characters interact more. Jackson Avery was dating a character on Station 19, while their beloved Fire Chief was a patient at Grey Sloan Memorial. Bailey and Warren's relationship is explored in both shows as well, so there's plenty of reasons for Grey's fans to be enticed to watch both shows. I, however, have not been won over.
I personally don't watch Station 19, despite the fun crossover moments that I'm sure it contains. And I'm here to tell you, you don't need to think too hard about whatever content you're missing. The Grey's Anatomy writers generally have your back, and will cover any relevant information with exposition. What's more, there are plenty of times where there is no direct connection between episodes, even if characters are used. For instance, Jackson recently started working with the Station 19 firefighters on a mobile operating room. But he usually doesn't reference his work on that show during Grey's, which muddles the timeline between the shows (see above: time doesn't matter). Although if you want to go full tilt on the Grey's Anatomy universe, more power to you.
It's almost hard to believe, but we've been watching Carina DeLuca on Grey's Anatomy for three seasons, as well as one episode of Station 19 (or so I've read). But despite our time with the feisty Italian OB/GYN, I still find the character of Carina to be a bit puzzling. Namely because I tend to forget she's even in the cast, as the character will go missing for episodes at a time before popping back up. What's more, I have a hard time keeping track of the character's plot lines, other than her passion for her family and researching the female orgasm.
Carina has had romantic connections with quite a few characters throughout her years on Grey's Anatomy, including Arizona, Owen, and Station 19's Maya Bishop. But for some reason I tend to forget these plot points even happen. Carina is basically a human MacGuffin, and appears only when convenient for the plot. Does she work at Grey Sloan Memorial full time at this point, or is she still just using the hospital for her research? I'm not sure, but you can bet she'll return the next time her brother has one of his recurring breakdowns. Just don't think about it.
Where are all the forgotten doctors?
Given how long Grey's Anatomy has been on the air, we've met countless employees of the hospital. This includes a bevy of recurring guest stars, who are added to the story to move the story of the main characters or a patient. They tend to vanish from the screen with little to no notice, and are never seen from again. Aren't these people still working at Grey Sloan Memorial? Are they all working on some dark hidden floor of the hospital where old plot lines are kept? It's unclear, but plenty of characters have met this fate throughout the years.
There are quite a few characters that should still be around. Sydney Heron was Bailey's competition and foil in the hospital for a while, and I'd love to see her pop back up sometime in the future. There's also Nurse Rose, who transferred out of neuro but should presumably still be a scrub nurse. Plus Peter MacNicol's Dr. Stark, who was a pediatric surgeon with a thing for April Kepner. Kepner herself should still be practicing medicine in Seattle, so why don't we ever hear her referenced by the current characters? Oh Grey's Anatomy, you have so many loose ends, but I still love you so.
Grey's Anatomy isn't slowing down anytime soon, although Season 16 ended early when TV and film sets were shut down across the world. We'll just have to wait until the next season. And who knows, maybe some of the above question will be answered next year. In the meantime, check out our midseason premiere list to plan your next binge watch.
Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.
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