It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since the world as we knew it was changed forever due to COVID. And little did we know that television would change along with it. Many shows had to pause production and end their 2020 seasons early due to the pandemic. Long-running medical drama Grey’s Anatomy was among the many that had to shorten the 2019-2020 season, and in turn, came back to a different way of production once the show finally got rolling again in the 2020-2021 season starting in the fall. Grey's Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff revealed some of the changes made that she wants to keep.
When shows went back into production starting late summer of last year, it was all about getting tested, not having as many crew or cast on set, quarantining, and social distancing. Krista Vernoff told Deadline that while thinking of going back to normal isn’t the healthiest thing that can happen, she’s grateful they were able to go back to production. Vernoff said:
I try not to predict, and I don’t know that back to normal is the healthiest thing that can happen for this town. I think that one of the ironic gifts of this return is that we’re working shorter hours, and actually have a more humane workday. So, I’m hopeful that we’ll find some happy medium between the rigorous Covid protocols, and the way it was before. That said, what I feel, primarily, is awestruck. That we managed to come back when we did. That we’ve managed to keep our crews and our cast safe.
Many shows, including Grey’s Anatomy, have found ways to include the COVID pandemic into their storylines, to not only keep the cast and crew safe but also because these shows tell stories in the real world, so the writers want to tell a story that audiences can relate to, even if it’s not one they particularly want. Krista Vernoff praised the Grey's Anatomy team for having managed to do what they do during everything:
It is indescribable how difficult and complicated it’s been to work within the parameters, and while I do think it has changed the show creatively to some degree, I’m in awe of what we’ve managed to do. What the writers, the editors, the actors, the directors, and the cast, and really, truly the crew have managed to do. If you came and you spent even a day in all of that protective gear with all of the protective measures in place, it’s unbelievably exhausting, and I’m just blown away by the artists who I get to work with. Just amazed by what we’ve done.
Grey’s Anatomy has significantly included the pandemic into the storyline, even giving the virus to a couple of characters, including Dr. Meredith Grey. Being a medical series, it shows fans firsthand what doctors and nurses on the frontlines deal with, how it’s like either not being able to go home or dealing with the constant feeling of losing someone. The emotional toll it has on the characters reflects what it’s really like for those on the frontlines.