300 is a lot. Like a lot of anything. 300 bananas, 300 cars, 300 people…it’s a big number. Can you imagine 300 43 minute tv episodes? Well the cast of Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t have to, they’re airing their 300th next week. They’ve come so far from a mid season pilot that aired after Desperate Housewives with the pitching phrase “Sex in the surgery”. They’ve become an anthem that launched Shonda Rhimes into becoming a household name.
Shonda has accomplished so much over the years including a fight for stronger diversity platforms in film and television both on and off screen, and these wouldn’t be possible without the stepping stones Grey’s Anatomy gave her to reach such a large amount of people. She’s claimed Thursdays on ABC as TGIT, Thank God It’s Thursday. She owns the night with three shows that rotate in and out depending on the season along with smaller short lived series from her production company, Shondaland.
I myself am personally grateful to the cast and crew, as I’ve written here previously. (To read any of those works just go to my TV tab or Grey’s Anatomy). I owe them so much, and they’ve taught me over the years which what I wanted to cover when writing this. I’m a Television Student and a lot of times we’re told to say our favorite TV show as a ice breaker every semester. Every semester I say Grey’s Anatomy and get a few quiet stares, a sigh, a “Is that still on?”- yes it’s still on and celebrating 300 episodes Tiffany what have you accomplished in your day besides making me feel bad?
Recently as GA has resurfaced as a cult classic phenomenon as teens binge the show on netflix there is an overall consensus that GA isn’t “that good” or is just something “teen girls watch” and I want to break that down a little bit. 300 episodes worth of monologue inspiration for every bad day is already number one reason why it’s so amazing. But what makes GA so unique is that yes it has lasted forever, and the reason is because it is so overwhelmingly personal and that it has reached the point where it isn’t trying to fit any formulas to make the ratings rise, or fill a quota the network wants for award shows. In fact they haven’t been nominated for any outstanding acting awards besides guest arcs for years, and they don’t care. They don’t need to because the loyalty to the show is so strong that even when you’re pissed off at a storyline you’ll record it and watch it anyway. Or you’ll watch parts of it. You’re addicted to Grey’s Anatomy, and you know what
As a society we need to stop looking down on what brings young women joy especially a program like GA that combines diverse storylines and lifestyles including the longest running LGBTQ Character on TV which was Callie Torres before Sara Ramirez left. Young women have found strength and a place in GA. A lot of TV that is marketed for a young teen audience focuses on school, drama, relationships, and not many young women are seeing them looking at careers. Something that GA has started is a wave of young nurses or surgeons who went into the medical field because of the show. GA next to ER is one of the most technically correct medical shows ever to be shown on screen. They have doctors on set that are watching them film and teaching actors how to hold instruments. Young girls are watching these highly complex procedures sandwiched between drama and romance and it’s fueling their search in what they want to do with their lives. “If she can see it, she can be it” is a slogan often used by guest star Geena Davis who runs The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media that GA takes to its heart. Women are surgeons, nurses, paramedics, they’re patients, they’re mothers, they’re sisters, they’re rounded human beings who don’t rely on love interests to keep them going. These women have watched 300 episodes of surgery and they’ve become invested in it. Shonda created a movement.
They don’t just want their Mcdreamy’s, they want their Harper Avery’s.
What GA has also inspired is a love for TV and creation, through their dedication to showing the fans how their favorite episodes are filmed such as the musical event or any of the stand alone episodes including “Sound of Silence”. GA also works hard to allow their cast to learn and grow in the business, leading to cast members like Chandra Wilson, Kevin Mckidd, Ellen Pompeo, and Debbie Allen to direct a number of episodes. Not to mention that half of them are women, two are of color. That diversity extends to the writing room where more than half the staff are women, and just recently in season 14 two episodes in a row were written and directed by women. Having women cultivate a show that is so influential on young girls is one of the most important issues this industry needs to tackle, and they’re doing it.
November 9th we don’t just celebrate 300 episodes, we celebrate 300 storylines, 300 surgeries, 300 elevator kisses, 300 monologues that give you clarity to life (thanks Ellen Pompeo, please do a motivational audio book), 300 catch phrases; SERIOUSLY, 300 lives saved…we celebrate a lifestyle and an impact that’s still blossoming. It doesn’t need awards or fancy things. It’s always going to be there. Like an old friend.
and we owe it to the cast and crew to celebrate this monumental moment because of all that they’ve unlocked and achieved for the industry. While GA is still working and learning as we all are to be as fully progressive as we can be when being creators, they’ve made tremendous strides and are committed to them. From Shonda’s blind casting to the recent episode Ellen Pompeo directed she specifically made sure that there were nurses wearing hijabs, and they even had minor speaking roles. Obviously we all want more, perhaps a hibaji intern but it’s a continuing stride for them that they want to make. So I know I will be celebrating the 300th to my fullest because I want to celebrate not only the content but the team behind it because 14 years of content is so beautiful. The inclusion and atmosphere they have created with Shondaland is something I could only dream of being a part of.
Let’s dance it out to 300!