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Ellen Pompeo Has Started Rewatching Grey’s Anatomy, And She Shared Her Honest Reaction

Meredith Grey sits at a desk on Grey's Anatomy.
(Image credit: ABC)

Ellen Pompeo has been portraying Meredith Grey on Grey’s Anatomy for 18 seasons, and while she’s lived through the filming of 395 episodes, she recently revealed that she hadn’t actually watched very many. That seems to have changed lately, as the actress has spoken on her podcast Tell Me about starting to rewatch the series with her 12-year-old daughter. It seems like that has all the makings of an awkward experience — especially given Meredith’s earlier-season propensity for random hookups, which the actress is no longer comfortable with — but it sounds like it has actually been pretty eye-opening. 

While Ellen Pompeo previously said on Tell Me that she’d only ever watched a handful of Grey’s Anatomy episodes in researching to direct, the topic came up again during her conversation with Saturday Night Live’s Bowen Yang. She said with age you gain the confidence to appreciate your talent and what you see in the mirror, rather than focus on all the negative. That wisdom has allowed her to reframe the way she saw herself as a young actress now that she’s watching her old work:

Going back and watching the show has been massive for me, because I’m like, ‘What the fuck was I worried about?’ There were so many voices in my head — not even in my head, there was outside voices, and this was even pre-social media — telling me, ‘You’re too skinny. You’re not a good actor. This one’s better than you. This one’s prettier than you.’ When you’re in the public eye, there’s so many people telling you things that it’s much easier to get down on yourself.

It must be pretty eye-opening to watch back those old Grey’s Anatomy episodes and remember all the criticism, only to realize that she had been killing it all along. If only she’d allowed herself to see that back then! She noted that it’s probably even harder for kids now, who also have to deal with social media. The goal, she said, is to get to the place where the noise doesn’t matter, but she admitted she doesn’t know how to speed up that process.

As Grey’s Anatomy prepares for a massive two-hour season finale May 26, Meredith will face a pretty big decision when the show returns from hiatus on May 5. We last saw the surgeon announcing that she plans to move to Minnesota to work at The Grey Center full time. That seems like a pretty bizarre move for the titular character of a show set in Seattle, so we’ll have to wait and see if that move actually happens. 

The actress made it pretty clear what won’t be happening though, as she recently discussed not wanting to put her character through trauma anymore, and Meredith Grey has definitely had more than her share of trauma and life-threatening incidents.

Season 19 has already been ordered, with Ellen Pompeo signed on for at least one more year, so now all Grey’s fans have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride, just as it seems Pompeo is finally allowing herself to do as well. Grey’s Anatomy returns to ABC at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 5. Be sure to check out our 2022 TV schedule to see what new and returning shows are premiering soon.

Heidi Venable
Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.