America’s longest-running primetime medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy recently premiered the first coronavirus-centric TV plot since studios started filming again.
According to NBC News, showrunner Krista Vernoff, who took over the series in Season 14, felt the production had a duty to dramatize the reality many Americans and the world aren’t witnessing in their daily lives.
“We have an opportunity to help drive home the costs to the medical community,” Vernoff said recently. And if anything, Grey’s is becoming more of an activist in its advanced age, which in this case means proving a counterbalance to the false messaging that this virus is somehow fading away.”
It is said that Season 17 jumps forward in time from where it left off in season 16, right into the heart of Seattle’s first wave of the coronavirus. Seattle, where the show is set, was hit before most other cities – including New York – went into crisis mode. This was a city where the lockdowns were real, and really terrifying, dating back to 29 February when King’s County confirmed its first death.
It is said that three doctors joined the staff in the writers’ room to get the facts right.
“And we have a lot of conversations of even the evolution, what you see in terms of the protective gear that they’re wearing in the premiere versus the evolution of the protective gear, when are they treating with ventilators and when are they not, ” Vernoff explained to Deadline. “There were drug studies and drug trials, and we’re doing our best to be honest about that progress, and also the evolution in the hospitals.
“Grey Sloan in the premiere has a special COVID ward, and these intake tents, and then, throughout the course of the season, other spaces evolve to hold COVID patients, and we’re hearing news about other hospitals. Washington was hit really hard early on. So, we’re trying to play through all of that.”
The premiere starts with a tour of the world as it is, explaining in detail exactly what the hospital staff is going through. And though it punctuates this reality with cheerful and even funny sequences, the audience is never allowed to forget how many people are dying and how helpless these doctors feel. A fan-favourite cast member also made a surprise return in the premiere of Season 17 in order to provide some joy.