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Why ABC Renewing Grey's Anatomy For Season 19 Is Both Awesome And Frustrating

Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey laughing on Grey's Anatomy.
(Image credit: ABC)

That big sigh of relief you heard was the collective reaction from Grey’s Anatomy fans everywhere now that the hit ABC medical drama has officially been renewed for Season 19. Ellen Pompeo will indeed resume her starring role as Meredith Grey, despite claims by the actress that she’s ready to end the series. While it’s great news for fans of the franchise, I can’t help but feel a little frustrated by this whole process, as well as what it likely means going forward. Let’s break it down. 

Awesome: Grey’s Anatomy And Ellen Pompeo Will Be Back For Season 19

Grey’s Anatomy’s Season 19 renewal comes with the news that Ellen Pompeo has agreed to a new one-year contract (per Deadline) that will also see her promoted from co-executive producer to executive producer. Fellow EP Krista Vernoff will also be returning as showrunner. As well, several of the series’ stars had previously signed on for a nineteenth season pending renewal, including Chandra Wilson, James Pickens Jr. and Kevin McKidd (whose Owen Hunt was in a life-threatening situation in the winter finale). So at this point, everything sounds all gravy!

Awesome: Grey’s Anatomy Still Has Interesting Stories To Tell

Ellen Pompeo’s main argument about not being sure if the show should continue has seemingly centered around her concern that Grey’s Anatomy may run out of interesting directions to take its characters. It’s admirable that she wants to do right by the show and its fans by not wanting the narrative content to suffer just because of all the money the show rakes in. The fact that we’re already finding out about Season 19’s renewal is a good indicator that Ellen Pompeo felt strongly enough about the direction of the series to sign on for another year. What plots did the writers divulge that helped to lure Pompeo back? I can’t wait to find out. 

Frustrating: Ellen Pompeo’s Short-Term Contract Sets Up Yet Another Waiting Game Next Year 

 

With Ellen Pompeo signing just a one-year contract – and without any designation of Season 19 being Grey’s Anatomy’s last – we’re set up to be in another state of limbo a year from now regarding a potential Season 20. It feels like the renewal talks have just become the Ellen Pompeo Waiting Game, where the star and podcast host spends months talking about wanting to leave, only to sign on again in the end after negotiations come together, but with short-term contracts. 

Even when forgetting how frustrating that is to the fans, it’s really not fair to Ellen Pompeo’s co-stars, either. Ahead of Season 17, Kim Raver, Camilla Luddington and Kevin McKidd renegotiated their contracts for two more seasons – before they even knew there would be an eighteenth season. Pompeo’s fellow original castmates Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr. also signed up for a potential Season 19 when they renewed their contracts ahead of Season 18. While I’m sure none of them would be quick to blame Pompeo for anything, it seems wrong that others are being asked to – and are indeed willing to – make a commitment, while still remaining at the mercy of someone who’s been so vocally apprehensive about continuing

One positive aspect to come out of these negotiations is that they happened so fast. The Season 19 renewal came much earlier in the year than the Season 18 renewal did, which might signal that everybody was on the same page. While the “How long will it last?” narrative can be a trying one for fans (and probably the actors), I’m fine to grab my tequila and dance it out in celebration of more Grey’s Anatomy episodes to look forward to going into 2023. 

Grey’s Anatomy returns for its spring premiere on Thursday, February 24 as part of a crossover with spinoff Station 19. The two-hour event starts at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Check out our 2022 TV Schedule to see when your other shows are returning this spring.

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.