Shocking new Grey’s Anatomy season brings awareness to the struggles of healthcare workers in the peak of the coronavirus pandemic

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Ellie Shapiro, Staff Writer

After much anticipation, the seventeenth season of the longest running medical drama in history, Grey’s Anatomy, premiered on Nov. 12 after an extended hiatus.  This season is especially exciting to patient fans who want to have questions answered and to see how the show would tackle America’s greatest public health crisis.

Last season, Grey’s was forced to end filming abruptly due to the COVID -19 pandemic.  Alex Karev, one of the only original characters left in the show, left the hospital to be with Izzie Stevens, his long lost lover, and their two children.  Andrew Deluca, a surgical resident, was last seen clearly suffering from some sort of mental illness.  Atticus “Link” Lincoln and Amelia Shepherd just welcomed their first child and, Cormac “McWidow” Hayes asked out Meredith Grey, who hasn’t had success with love since the death of her husband, Derek, six seasons ago.  The biggest scandal of season 16 was the end of Teddy Altman and Owen Hunt’s almost marriage.  After Owen finds out that Teddy cheated on him with Tom Koracick the night before their wedding, he cancels the wedding without telling her in advance, leaving viewers to question where their relationship stands. 

“I think that this season will take the show in a new direction and I can’t wait to see what happens next for Amelia, Link, Meredith, and McWidow,” said junior Talya Pecullan. 

It is understood that everyone has adapted to the new reality of the pandemic, including the television industry.  This new season of Grey’s Anatomy debuted with a creative twist, showcasing real issues hospitals are facing in the pandemic through the staff at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.  The show made the effort to accurately portray the experience of real life health care workers during this time and bring awareness to what they are going through.  In the first episode, viewers see the Grey’s Anatomy doctors not able to live with their families in order to prevent exposure to the virus and not having the proper protection equipment, such as masks and gloves, due to the worldwide demand.  It is also revealed how emotionally draining it is to treat such an unpredictable disease where patients could be fine one minute and fighting for their life the next.

“It was so incredibly powerful to watch doctors handle the world’s current situation and it gives me the chills seeing what I have experienced from a different perspective,” said junior Rachel Nissan.

This is not the first time the show has tackled a present day issue.  In the past, they have centered storylines around racial inequality and police brutality, the #MeToo Movement, LGBTQ+ rights, and the status of women in the workplace.  The cast dedicated this season to the healthcare workers that lost their lives caring for others throughout the pandemic, but many are hoping they continue to incorporate the major human rights movements that have occurred this year as well.  Prevalent issues such as racism and homophobia are especially fascinating for viewers to watch in Grey’s Anatomy. The cast tackles these issues through defeating stereotypes and educating ignorant characters. 

“I’m definitely excited for the new season because the show has always spoken out about certain topics like racism and homophobia and I’m looking forward to seeing how they incorporate these issues this season,” said junior Sadie Mandel.

While the new season was expected to be full of surprises, what no one expected was the return of Patrick Dempsey, the actor who starred as Meredith’s late husband Dr. Derek Shepherd who died in season eleven.  He appeared in Meredith’s dream after she collapsed in the hospital parking lot, possibly due to complications from COVID – 19.  Dempsey’s return added a lot of brightness to the episode and gave many fans the hope that other former cast members will return for this exciting season.

Although many are ecstatic for the return of their beloved doctors and other surprises, there are some concerns that this season will be the show’s last after lead actress Ellen Pompeo hinted that the show could be coming to an end.  

“We don’t know when the show is really ending yet, but the truth is, this year could be it,” said Pompeo in an interview with Variety in Oct. 2020.

The season has only just begun, but has already left an amazing impression on its fans for what is to come.