Grey’s Anatomy show writers have already begun working with medical experts for its upcoming 17th season
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic will play a lead role in Grey’s Anatomy‘s upcoming 17th season. While shooting for the new season hasn’t begun yet due to the virus, show writers are already hard at work consulting with medical experts to pen the pandemic-centric storyline. Earlier this year, the show donated medical supplies used as props in the show back to healthcare workers working the front lines.
Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital has seen no shortage of medical emergencies and public health disasters, and those in charge of the hit medical drama were adamant that art should imitate life on the show. “We’re going to address this pandemic for sure,” said Grey’s Anatomy executive producer Krista Vernoff said during a television panel of the show’s plans for season 17. “There’s no way to be a long-running medical show and not do the medical story of our lifetimes.”
Vernoff made headlines earlier this year when she tweeted about her white privilege in reference to how she’s treated by police. She confirms that she and the team of Grey’s Anatomy writers are working on crafting story arcs for season 17 with the help of doctors who have been working on the front lines of the pandemic.
“The doctors come in, and we’re the first people they’re talking to about these types of experiences they’re having,” she says. “They are literally shaking and trying not to cry, they’re pale and they’re talking about it as war — a war that they were not trained for. And that’s been one of our big conversations about Owen [Kevin McKidd’s Dr. Owen Hunt, who served in the Army], that he’s actually trained for this in a way that most of the other doctors aren’t.”
The television panel where Vernoff shares updates on the new season, called “Quaranstreaming: Comfort TV That Keeps Us Going,” is hosted by the Television Academy and will stream in full tonight, Tuesday, at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on YouTube. She further explains that while they always consult with doctors to share their stories while working on each new season, and often times it’s been an enjoyably entertaining and valuable experience. This year, however, there’s a level of gravity and trauma while meeting with them, because these doctors are experiencing the reality of a pandemic and mass death in real-time.
Vernoff said it’s been “really painful” to hear about the suffering that patients and healthcare workers are experiencing during the pandemic, which just validates why they’re choosing to make the current crisis part of the new season. “I feel like our show has an opportunity and a responsibility to tell some of those stories.”
Writers are currently hard at work on new episodes, trying to keep individual storylines and love interests that Grey‘s fans cherish.”Our conversations have been constantly about how do we keep alive humor and romance while we tell these really painful stories,” Vernoff said.
Since the pandemic has halted production on most television and film projects, production hasn’t begun and there is no official return date for Grey’s just yet. But the beloved, longtime series will still hold the Thursday night slot at 9.pm. when it does return.