Showrunner Krista Vernoff believes that the show has the responsibility to tell these stories.
Grey's Anatomy is one of the longest-running medical dramas, and with each season, they come up with stellar storylines that intertwine with current issues. According to PEOPLE, the upcoming season is no exception as the doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital are gearing up to fight against the deadliest pandemic the world has seen in years.
During an interview with the Television Academy, executive producer Krista Vernoff revealed that the medical drama was definitely going to address the global coronavirus crisis in season 17. "We're going to address this pandemic for sure," she says of the upcoming season. "There’s no way to be a long-running medical show and not do the medical story of our lifetimes."
During the "Quaranstreaming: Comfort TV That Keeps Us Going" panel, which Vernoff attended along with Grey's stars Chandra Wilson (Dr. Miranda Bailey) and Kevin McKidd (Dr. Owen Hunt), she mentioned how the writers of the show have already been meeting doctors who have first-hand experience of the ongoing pandemic. "Every year, we have doctors come and tell us their stories, and usually they’re telling their funniest or craziest stories," Vernoff explains, adding that this is how the framework of the writing process is. Every year, they listen to doctors and their stories, but this year, it was different for them all.
"It has felt more like therapy," she said in the panel interview. "The doctors come in and we’re the first people they’re talking to about these types of experiences they’re having. 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."
"That’s been one of our big conversations about Owen [Hunt], is that he’s actually trained for this in a way that most of the other doctors aren’t," she teases of a storyline they would likely pursue. Vernoff then added that while it was extremely difficult for her and the others to listen to these stories, it is imperative that they tackle this during the show.
"I feel like our show has an opportunity and a responsibility to tell some of those stories," she said, according to USA Today. "Our conversations have been constantly about how do we keep alive humor and romance while we tell these really painful stories."
Filming for the latest season has been stalled indefinitely, but hopefully, we get to watch how Meredith Grey and her doctor friends deal with the pandemic.
Last year, we reported that Grey's Anatomy had aired one of their most powerful episodes ever, and that it was about a sexual assault survivor. The episode, titled "Silent All These Years" after Tori Amos' song, shone a spotlight on sexual assault and it may be their most traumatic episode to date. According to ABC, the episode documents everything; from the process of reporting the trauma to the emotions attached to the process. In the episode, a woman named Abby, played by Khalilah Joi, has bruises and tells the doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital a different story about how she sustained those injuries including hitting her head on a kitchen cabinet and a mishap at a hockey game.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Vernoff called the episode "the most powerful hour of TV I've ever been a part of in my 20-year career." The inspiration for the episode came from watching the Christine Blasey Ford testimony last year. She accused the now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault while they were in high school during her testimony on Sept. 27, 2018, before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kavanaugh denied her allegations, saying, "I have never done this to her or to anyone. That's not who I am. It is not who I was. I am innocent of this charge."