Has Grey’s Anatomy been on air for too long?



The Grey’s Anatomy cast photo for season eight

Sam Spray, Staff Writer

“The seven years you spend here as a surgical resident will be the best and worst of your life. You will be pushed to the breaking point. Look around you. Say hello to your competition. Eight of you will switch to an easier specialty. Five of you will crack under the pressure and two of you will be asked to leave. This is your starting line. This is your arena. How well you play? That’s up to you.” -Richard Webber (Grey’s Anatomy).

With that line, the show that shaped a generation began. “Grey’s Anatomy” has been airing on ABC since March 27, 2005. Its lengthy runtime has so far included 325 episodes across 15 seasons, the last of which has not yet been wrapped. The show’s star, Ellen Pompeo, has already signed on for a sixteenth season, meaning that the show has likely not reached its end. But how long is too long?

I happen to be a huge fan of the show. But throughout the course of the series, the cast has almost completely changed. Of the original nine main characters in season one, only four are left. This is not to mention the supporting characters who have come and gone over the years.

Of course, casts change in most long-running shows. There are very few programs that span a decade that have not lost a few cast members in the process. For those of you who watched “Friends”, it is the rare exception to the rule.  However, changes in a cast do not always harm a show, as was evident in the first few seasons. Take for example when George O’Malley (T.R. Knight) was killed off, fans of course were sad, but it was nothing compared to the outrage that ensued when Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) was killed in season eleven. I would have been more upset if the show had ended as soon as one of the main actors quit as opposed to the writers just changing the storyline.

The issue here is not that cast members leave shows. It is the volume and importance of the cast members who have left and what their characters represent in the show. When Dempsey left, Meredith Grey’s (Ellen Pompeo) happy ending went with him, which was something many fans wished for and lusted after.

As Riley Coesens, a sophomore and avid watcher of the series, said, “They should have ended the show with Meredith getting a happy ending with Derek before he left.” However, many supporters of the series are also glad it is still running. “ I thought “Grey’s Anatomy” had been going on too long for a while, but I don’t think that anymore,” Sophomore Molli Langolf said “This season it’s gotten a lot better so I’m happy, but it definitely has been dragged on for a long time.”

As Tess Wyniemko, a sophomore, said in support of this argument, “I think it can be frustrating at times how much the show and cast has evolved but at the same time it’s also very interesting and engaging for watchers like me. I think that with as many seasons as they were able to come up with, each one was new and continued to surprise me.”. Now, the show relies on side stories instead of focusing on the title character, no matter how interesting they may which is a big departure from the original show.

In my opinion, 15 seasons is too long. The quality of the storyline should be the number one priority of any show. Meredith Grey should be the focus, and frankly, she’s not anymore. The talent level, in terms of acting, has also gone down. They just aren’t convincing anymore. They have not been able to replace the talent of actors like Patrick Dempsey, Isaiah Washington, and Sandra Oh. When the show started, one of the best parts of watching was rooting for your favorite characters. Now, I just don’t care about the new characters. They are static and lack an arc, which is never good, especially in a show known for its complex character development.

But no matter which side of the argument you are on or if you are impartial, I would highly recommend taking the time to watch in order to draw your own conclusions about the show.