The Decline of Grey’s Anatomy, How I See It…

I spent the afternoon jotting down all the things I have to do over the next few days/weeks. I could start with getting some of the things done right away today, but… there is always tomorrow. And the day after that… :-)
There was interesting discussion in my twitter stream last night about when Grey’s Anatomy changed from being an amazing TV show to just a mediocre and in my eyes nowadays even most of the times rather underwhelming TV show. I guess we – the ones that were/are invested enough to even spend time thinking about this – probably have different opinions about that, depending on what aspect of the show we are/were most intrigued by or interested in. In this post I’ll try to put together my personal thoughts on the decline of Grey’s Anatomy.

I only saw a few episodes of the first season, when it ran on German TV, because I was more interested in another show which aired around the same time on a different channel. I caught the last few episodes of season 1 though and I liked it and definitely wanted to know what happened after that cliffhanger. Thus I spent the summer of 2006 with catching up with season 1 and 2 on DVD and I was completely hooked even after watching the first few episodes of season 1 in English and after seeing how it all started.
I was a MerDer shipper from the start. I’ve always been the shipper kind of TV viewer/fan and once I’m hooked, I’m hooked. Thus I see the show mostly through MerDer-shipper tinted glasses, which will be evident in the following paragraphs, I think.

I enjoyed season 1 a lot. The banter between Meredith and Derek and the way their relationship started was so much fun to watch. I also cared about all the other interns, because they were interesting and each had a unique personality, which made me interested in them. The medical side of the show also was interesting enough and all in I thought the writing (stories and dialogue) was refreshing and amazingly good.

I very much enjoyed season 2 as well. I  watched the complete 27 epsisodes in just a couple of days during my summer holiday. I was by that time still completely un-spoiled so I wasn’t even sure Meredith and Derek were meant to be together. Stupid Me, I know, but at the time I thought, maybe the weren’t meant to be “the one true pairing”. And I started to like Addison as well. Not as much as Meredith, but I still liked her well enough as a character. But at the end of the bomb episodes I knew that my couple would get back together, when Derek remembered all the details Meredith had forgotten. Still one of my favourite scenes *sigh* In that season I still liked most of the storylines for the other characters and for a long time I thought Denny Duquette would forever be my most favourite patient ever. He was such a great guy and it was all so tragic. [It was even more tragic that his character was ruined for me in season 5]

Season 3 was the first season I watched sort of like “in real time” (i.e. around the same it was was shown on TV). I will probably always remember that season fondly because of just that circumstance alone. It was so exciting to find out new spoilers or rumours and to see promos and to have a new episode each week to look forward to and to wonder about what will happen next. It’s just not the same when you are watching a complete season on DVD.
I was positively surprised that Derek did end it with Addison right away and I didn’t even mind the dating two guys storyline in the beginning. Unfortunately right after the appy episode the “will they / won’t they” drama started to play out and I was a bit botherd by that even back then. On the one side I understood that Shonda wanted to keep the show’s central relationship (and up till that point and even beyond that MerDer were still the focus of the whole relationship drama) interesting and exciting. I might not share her point of view that there are no interesting stories left to tell once the one true pairing gets together for good, but I could accept it. On the other hand the MerDer shipper in me was starting to get seriously pissed off that she came up with stupid reason after reason and various complications to keep them apart just to keep the drama alive.
Besides this underlying complaint I enjoyed most of season 3, even MerDer wise, because we got them starting over at Joe’s and in the tub and him rescuing her from Elliot Bay. I admit I enjoyed this surreal story arc of Meredith’s afterlife, probably because I’ve always liked Meredith, even when the writers gave her more and more stupid issues to work through. Maybe I didn’t mind it that much, because I knew that the writers were just using these issues to keep the relationship “interesting”. And then Derek got impatient and asked her to put him out of his misery, which I also thought was a lame move on his part. Although it wasn’t him, but the writers. Yes, I know it’s crazy to distinguish between the written character and writers who write the character. I’m just weird that way. Get used to it :-)
Looking back on it now and trying to put my thoughts into words make me realize that this might already have been the moment for me when the show started to decline. It felt unnecessary to me to keep Meredith and Derek apart at that point in their relationship and especially to not have them talk about their issues.
Season 3 also had the whole Burke’s trembling hand crap, which made me dislike Burke a lot. I never liked him much to begin with but then he turned out to be such a momma’s boy and already from the start of this storyline he was putting the blame on somebody else. I’ve just watched that episode this evening. “Shepherd should have never cleared me for surgery…” Duh, then go back to him and tell him about the tremor, because you haven’t done that yet. Stupid male arrogance. He also from this episode on makes Cristina responsible for all of this because she wants him to “the Preston Burke”. That might even be true, but he still should have been mature and reasonable enough to not let it all get that far.  I have to admit though it provided some great drama in a few of the episodes.
And then there was the whole storyline about George’s father which was such a sad story and I liked him and Callie as a couple in the beginning. Even though they didn’t really fit and they married too soon and all. But then the George/Izzie drama happened… Ugh! Another story which didn’t make any sense to me and which started to ruin both characters for me, which was really sad, because I actually liked them both before.
The more I think about it the more I realize that the end of season 3 really was the moment the show lost some of the qualities I once loved it for.

Season 4 started without Addison (the crappy way they ended the whole Addie/Alex story, which could have been an interesting one, is another proof of the decline starting in season 3). MerDer continued their strange non-relationship, because Meredith still had tons of issues *yawn*. Nurse Rose was such an obvious plot device that I sometimes actually felt offended. Does anyone remember the episode where she is fixing an OR computer because she did some classes of computer science. WTF? The whole George and Izzie drama went on and on. I never liked Erica Hahn and I didn’t care if she would hook up with Mark or with anyone else. Lexie was getting on my nerves in the beginning but she sort of grew on me. The rest of the interns were boring though and every second of screen time they got was too much.
I liked how the clinical trial finally brought Meredith and Derek back together (but I disliked that Addison had to show up again. And again and again in every one of the following seasons. What was the point in that?).

I had high hopes for season 5 after the house of candles, because Shonda confirmed that Merdith and Derek would be together for good now. There could have been so many interesting storylines about how they start their new life together. But sadly enough all we got were bits and pieces and most of their storylines evolved around somebody else’s problems. We got some great stuff with Derek drunk in the woods and all and even beforehand during the serial killer storyarc. Although Meredith was so insensitive during that one. Derek told her about how his dad was killed and all she has to offer is “I guess it was a bad day all around” Ugh, Meredith… #fail! ;-).
There were some interesting moments regarding the MerDer relationship and regarding other characters, but there also was a lot of crap in season 5. Ghostsex! Do I have to say more? Owen Hunt joined the cast and even though I liked him in the beginning I had problems with all of his issues.
Meredith and Derek supposedly planned to get married (without inviting anyone from the large Shepherd family… yeah, right) and decided to just sign a post-it instead. Which I thought was cute in that moment but which I really would have expected to be followed up by a legal ceremony some time later. But that hasn’t happened (yet), because who needs anything legal nowadays? Stupid! There also was the strange Sadie storyline and the interns doing secret surgeries and weird guest appearance by Mary McDonald and of course Addison once again and her brother and … ugh. So much crap really.

Season 6 brought the merger with Mercy West and new characters I just didn’t care about. Jackson grew on me, but I could still do without April just like I could have done without the other two. Teddy also joined the cast and was very soon boring me to death.
I think, the decline that started at the end of season 3 turned into a rapide downslide in season 6. It all didn’t really make sense to me.
Meredith and Derek were still  only post-it married and started building a house which we still haven’t seen any part of. They both have some episodes which focuses on them as doctors but there isn’t really any progress relationship wise and there weren’t any episodes that focused on them as a couple. They were just there somehow and they were part of the ensemble but they stopped being the focus of the show and that bothered me. It probably already started in season 5 but it was so evident in season 6. There were the Mercy West people and then there was Mark and Mark’s daughter. And hey, Addison again. Ugh!  There also was the whole Teddy/Owen drama and so much more which just didn’t interest me. The finale was standing out though, because it were 90 minutes of intense television.

Season 7 did not just continue with the lack of MerDer storylines but also brought up new issues which could have been turned into interesting and captivating storylines for them, if anyone would have bothered to write them that way. The whole fertility issues is mentioned but then ignored for a few episodes and then brought up again but without any more explanation for the viewers. We don’t seen them talk about their options and making decisions, it’s just dropped on us and even in a way that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Then Derek worries that Meredith might get Alzheimers, which was a interesting bit of storyline, but the issue wasn’t really touched after all. They are starting a clinical trial together though, which at least provides some more scenes of them working together.
Derek has more scenes with Cristina in this season and while I thought the PTSD storyline was interesting in the beginning it was dragged out way too long. I enjoyed their scenes together (on the lake and such) but I was stunned when Cristina just returned to work after that as if nothing had happened. She didn’t seem changed or grown at all and I was wondering what was the point of the whole storyline?
Most of season 7 was dealing with Callie and Arizona and Mark and the whole baby drama and in my episode reviews I have written more than enough about why that bothers me. The show hit rock bottom in my eyes with the musical episode. And the fact that the whole second half of season 7 did just happen to lead up to that episode!

Thinking about it I’ve by now watched three seasons I enjoyed watching (1-3) and more than three (4-7) that I didn’t enjoy that very much. Maybe that should be a sign that I should quit the show. But I just can’t. Not as long as Merdith and Derek are still surgeons at Seattle Grace. Yes, I’m addicted that way. And there are a few tiny spoilers floating around that give me a tiny bit of hope that they might get some decent (tiny) storyline in the end of this season. We’ll see. I know I’ll still be happy and content with any moment of seeing them in their private life. Of course I don’t mind seeing them together at work either, but there is so much potential in their private life, that I’ll take whatever I can get of that one. And if that isn’t enough there are still old episodes to watch or wonderful fanfiction like “All Along The Watchtower” to read…

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4 responses to “The Decline of Grey’s Anatomy, How I See It…

  1. I quit the show. We’ve removed it from our DVR lineup. After the musical episode, I just wasn’t feeling it anymore and I hate what Shonda has done to the characters this season. I feel like she’s turned Arizona into a completely different person with all her snippy little comments to Callie. I haven’t understood that; I know Arizona has said she just doesn’t like Mark, but her comments about the “bisexual dream” and the “straight Callie” seem demeaning to Callie (and bi women in general, IMO) and barely related to Mark at all.

    I liked it a whole lot more when Meredith and Derek were sneaking around. And unfortunately, I think a lot of shows are like that – they make the will they/won’t they stuff so central to the show that when THE couple gets together, it’s boring. You just go “well, what now?” I think The Office is like that too now that Jim and Pam are together.

    I think Patrick has been tired of it for awhile too. I remember seeing a quote quite awhile ago where he said that shows just run their course, they can’t go on forever. I read it to mean he expected Grey’s to end any day now, that even he thinks they are digging trying to come up with some storylines now.

    • I wish I could quit the show that easily as well :) My hope right now is that Patrick and Ellen really only have one year left of their contract and that the next season will be the last. But as long as I can see Patrick Dempsey on TV on a regular basis I just can’t leave him. He shouldn’t have to go through this all on his own *g* Even though… he get’s paid a lot for doing it and noone is paying me! :-)

  2. I think that’s what made it easier for me to quit, I felt like he was never on the show anymore! I probably would have stuck around a little longer just to see him, but instead we get the threesome fighting about something new in every single episode.

  3. Hi, My name is Sara I am dermerga on fanfictions sites about meredith and derek. I have just read your post and I agree completely with you. I also started when a friend of mine told me about it, in the middle of season two. I got hooked and I watched on dvd from the beginning the show. I fell in love with mer and der, and as you said in season 1 and 2 the stories of the other characters were interesting as well. I enjoyed season 3 until the middle, before the ferryboat accident. I kept on watching and was disappointed with season 4, but there were still good moments on each episode, even if I didn’t like how mer and der’s relationship (and rose) was going on. and from then on it has been getting worse and worse. Like you, I still watch it for mer and der, but I don’t watch the whole episode I just fastforward until they appear, because I don’t care about most of the storylines. I think the moment shonda decided to create private practice the show has been on decline instead on focusing on doing the best show possible with the best writers, she decided to have two mediocre shows and get more money, but for me the quality of grey’s has been slowly on decline. Nevertheless, we will always have the great season 1 and 2, and part of season 3 and the rest of the merder moments of the other seasons. I hope it will get a little better for our beloved couple.

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