New season of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ maintains typical drama in midst of COVID-19 restrictions


Photo by Ella Alpert ’22

Season 17 of Grey’s Anatomy will tackle the COVID-19 pandemic alongside the show’s usual drama. In the premiere, this combo felt overwhelming at times. However, the episode succeeded in showcasing the hard work of healthcare workers and provided information about many of the dangers of the virus.

Spoiler Alert!

The long awaited return of Grey’s Anatomy was full of the plot twists and drama that the show is famous for. The two hour season 17 premiere aired on Nov. 12 and included the first two episodes of the new season. As a medical drama, this season is dedicated to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The premiere began with a recap of season 16 and went right into a scene with main character Dr. Meredith Grey (played by Ellen Pompeo) sitting on a beach, calm with the sounds of waves and the wind. Cut to April 2020, and chaos ensues in Grey Sloan Memorial (the hospital where the show takes place), as the hospital is overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. 

Last season left off with Dr. Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) recovering from surgery. This season Dr. Webber is healed and back to work. In the new episode Chief Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) introduces Dr. Webber to the hospital’s new Covid protocols, emphasizing the importance of staying safe as the pandemic is getting worse. 

There are many scenes in which the characters express the anger at the number of people who are dying from the virus. They also express annoyance over the lack of proper personal protective equipment for hospital staff. 

However, the show does a great job covering the pandemic and stressing the severity of the virus. The first two episodes also beautifully showcase the hard work of healthcare workers and are very informative about many of the dangers of COVID-19. Since the show attracts a nationwide audience, I hope viewers who have yet to fully grasp the severity of the pandemic will understand once it’s explained to them by fictional doctors. 

Since the show attracts a nationwide audience, I hope viewers who have yet to fully grasp the severity of the pandemic will understand once it’s explained to them by fictional doctors.

— Ella Alpert ’22

At times, the premier was hard to watch. Especially during these past few months, TV shows have provided an escape from the craziness of reality. However, as this season of Grey’s Anatomy is so heavily focused on the pandemic, watching the show isn’t much different than turning on the news. 

In addition, the combination of storylines relating to the pandemic as well as the show’s usual drama felt overwhelming. Within these two episodes characters treat patients with the virus, Meredith contracts the virus, flashbacks show Dr. Andrew Deluca’s (Giacomo Gianniotti) struggle with mental illness, Dr. Teddy Altman (Kim Raver) and Dr. Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) deal with the aftermath of Teddy’s affair, Dr. Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary) starts a long distance relationship, and Dr. Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone) and Mr. Atticus Lincoln, known as Link (Chris Carmack), have intimate scenes to cope with the stress of being new parents.

The second episode ends with doctors finding Meredith passed out in the parking lot. While unconscious, Meredith returns to the beach where the episode started. She hears someone in the distance calling her name and soon discovers her deceased husband Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) on the beach with her. 

The third episode aired on Nov. 19 and revealed that Meredith has contracted COVID-19. Her condition worsens throughout the episode and she continuously returns to the beach with Derek. The next episode airs on Dec. 3. In the preview for this episode, it is revealed that Meredith will receive visits from other people while at the beach. 

Countless doctors and patients have died throughout the 17 seasons of the show, so many fans are speculating which character will return. As someone who’s watched all 17 seasons, I would love to see a return from Meredith’s sister Dr. Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh), or Meredith’s friends Dr. Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) or Dr. George O’Malley (T. R. Knight). For now, I’m counting down the days until the show returns.