It pains me to type this, but here goes: This season of Grey’s Anatomy hasn’t been very good and the timing of that drop-off in quality couldn’t be worse. We need smart, feminist, compelling shows to escape into, now more than ever! While it might be too late for the show to course-correct in season 13, it’s not too late to start thinking about how season 14 could be better. Here are eight things Grey’s Anatomy should do to shake off the cobwebs and recapture its magic.
1. Bring back Meredith.
Perhaps Ellen Pompeo needed to work less after the birth of her infant son, which would be totally understandable — but her storylines should still count. Meredith is the Grey inGrey’s Anatomy and she deserves more than what she’s getting. Last season, we got to see her adjust to a world without McDreamy and cope with a life-altering assault. This season, we’ve seen her worry about Alex, get suspended from the hospital, and spin her wheels in a never-ending flirtation with Riggs. Ellen continues to nail the material she’s given but she needs more to work with.
2. Give the show’s other long-running characters better storylines.
I’ve hated seeing characters like Webber, Alex, Bailey, and Arizona mishandled this season. Where has Alex been since he was released from prison? Why has the ball been dropped on digging into his relationship with Jo? Why have Webber and Bailey and Arizona spent so much time locked into the drama with Eliza, who at this point feels more like a plot device than a person? If it takes doing more bottle-style episodes, like the one with Jo, Arizona, and Bailey at the women’s hospital, run with that!
3. Explore the Merlex relationship.
These days, they’re fully each other’s person, and that’s something we haven’t really seen developed or explored this season. We know they’ve gotten much, much closer, and the subtext is that’s a result of Derek’s death and Alex’s arrest. That needs to become less of a background story. Meredith’s honest, compelling voicemail to Alex when he was considering taking a plea deal was one of the best moments of the season, and we need more of that. They don’t have to hook up (although I maintain that they are an end-game couple), but since the scenes they have together are one of the only elements of Grey’sthat continues to pop, the show needs to spend more time with them — and, not to harp on this, with Meredith and Alex as individuals too.
4. Get sexier.
Remember when Grey’s used to be all about doctors pulling one another into on-call rooms for nonstop hookups? I rewatched the Grey’s pilot this week for the 12th anniversary of its airing (!!), and even though the characters barely knew each other, the show was crackling with sexual tension. I know a natural response to this might be that the characters are more mature now, which might explain the drop-off in sexual hijinks, but people in their 40s need hot sex too! And adding some younger characters and then actually taking the time to flesh them out (pun absolutely intended) might help with this as well.
5. Raise the stakes.
Where are the hospital shootings? Where are the plane crashes? Where are the cut LVAD wires? So far, the major drama this season has come from “suspense” around Alex’s arrest — come on, was the series really going to put him in prison for 10 years? — and the staffing shakeup in the residency director position. Grey’s is literally asking us to stay invested in what amounts to an administrative staffing challenge for months, while turning major characters into cartoon-villain versions of themselves in the process. As it’s done so, it’s relied heavily on the stories of patients to drive the episodes, putting our characters’ running stories in the backseat. I’ve loved some of the patient-driven storytelling the season, but it’s frustrating when that comes at the cost of ignoring our favorite characters.
6. Develop a romantic relationship between two men.
This one might sound overly specific, but aside from a handful of random patients and guest stars, Grey’s has never featured a romantic relationship between men. There aren’ttoo many unique romantic angles left for the show to explore but really taking the time to develop a gay male relationship would give the show a new dimension (and possibly allow for more scenes with hot dudes with their shirts off, which the show has been sorely lacking lately).
7. Either use new cast members well or stop adding them.
Remember when Grey’s made a huge deal out of the fact that Leah Murphy would be rejoining the cast? She showed up in a few random episodes, was barely used, and then disappeared. By contrast, Maggie’s mom has only been in two episodes, but the show has managed to make her three-dimensional through a genuinely compelling story, which has given us a long-overdue chance to get to know Maggie better, too. More moms, fewer Murphys, please.
8. Resolve the Amelia and Owen drama, once and for all.
If I squint and tilt my head to one side, I can see how maybe Grey’s is trying to use Owen and Amelia’s story to point out that in real life, couples fight and that’s a normal part of relationships. But Owen and Amelia only fight. Do they even like each other?! They’ve been on a cycle of ignoring each other and then yelling at each other for weeks now, and it’s tiresome. To make matters worse, we’ve seen Owen have nearly identical fights with Cristina, which means Kevin McKidd has been stuck doing the same material for years. Again, maybe Grey’s is trying to tell stories about how Owen has patterns that sabotage his relationships, and I applaud their effort to be realistic in that regard. But it’s gotten old and I’m over it.