As the whole world knows by now, in this week’s episode of “Grey’s Anatomy,” Dr. Derek Shepherd, a/k/a Dr. McDreamy died. Yes, died. For a huge, massive number of viewers, when he died, the show died too. It will continue, in a living dead sort of fashion, but the numbers will not justify it living long, and the plug will be pulled. But it will have company — ABC will be shopping for a whole new Thursday night. Why?
Because in killing Dr. McDreamy, Shonda Rhimes killed more than a character — she killed the bond of trust she spent a decade building with viewers. That’s a bond that can’t be re-built. We’ll never trust Shonda again and we’ll never risk watching any of her shows — not Grey’s, not Scandal, and not How to Get Away With Murder. Shonda’s as done as her shows.
Shonda’s feud with Dempsey gained a lot of attention recently. She who doesn’t like leaks suddenly liked them a LOT now, didn’t she? She fed the media a bunch of stories about how Patrick Dempsey was suddenly too much of a “Diva” to tolerate. It was entirely too sudden and entirely too convenient. When Katherine Heigl’s movie career blossomed, tales of her Diva demands blossomed too. But they didn’t start as a full grown rose – they started as a bud that grew and grew and grew. But Dempsey became a Diva overnight. Ain’t that peculiar, people?
The truth is that Dempsey has wanted off the show for a while. His whole life has been on the sids recently. He’s lost a marriage and couldn’t figure out how to balance racing and Grey’s. He discovered racing too late and it’s grown into an addiction of sorts, or so it seems to me. And I completely understand how much it must enrage Shonda that the poor, “no-career” actor she cast a decade ago, now doesn’t have time for the show that changed his destiny. I get that. I just think that Shonda let her rage overcome her judgment. Couldn’t any of the writers talk her off the ledge before she jumped?
Rhimes and Dempsey are both people who have duties to the American public. Yes, they’ve entertained us for a decade but we’ve given them careers beyond any they could’ve imagined a decade ago. Just as Shonda changed Patrick Dempsey’s destiny, America changed hers. And Shonda was Queen of the Grey’s empire so she responded with a ruler’s rage —- “Off with his head,” she commanded. In killing her creation, she has killed her empire.
It didn’t have to be this way. The pair could have sat down and pared Dempsey’s appearances down to Skype chats with Meredith and loving bits and pieces that could be pre-recorded and played back over all of next season. Shonda could’ve brought an amazing offer from Cristina that required Derek immediately. Because Cristina is Mer’s “person,” she’d offer Mer a job that would be open whenever Mer was ready. As Mer’s person, she’d know that Mer wasn’t ready now, but she’d be ready very soon.
But Shonda wanted to do more than kill Dr. McDreamy. She has decided to diminish him until Meredith begins again…… a new man, a new father, a new life…. And she can do that because Grey’s is HER Kingdom, right? WRONG. It was only hers until the first show aired. Just as a book only belongs to the writer until it’s published, a show only belongs to its runner until the first episode airs. Then it belongs to its fans, the way a published book belongs to the readers.
Queen Shonda forgot that.
The romance between Meredith and McDreamy captured viewer’s hearts. They rewarded it with their loyalty. A decade of magic ensued. Grey’s could have continued after McDreamy left…. it could continue after Mer leaves. Except now, it can’t. Now, it’s dead. Shonda killed it when she committed the ultimate betrayal. Grey’s might have grown in a strong new direction with a “shadow” Derek and a “shadow” Cristina, appearing in the occasional voice over. A Derek alive, elsewhere doing other things and a Meredith alive in Seattle responding to some of those things and acting in ways that caused others – now that is quite a different proposition. It could be an odd notion from the odd duck lady or the distressed ponderings of a fan — or both. Regardless, it’s not to be, absent a giant “mea culpa” from Shonda. It would take a new season beginning with Mer awakening from a dream (in an over the top nod to “Dallas”) or with Mer awakening to find a concerned McDreamy beside her bed, relieved that she’d stopped her fever-produced hallucinations. None of that is likely, because a Shonda who could kill McDreamy is likely beyond redemption.
MASH killed Henry Blake but learned its lesson. It never killed “Hawkeye.” Perhaps the runners of that show had more respect for magic or perhaps they were wise enough to know that a knife in the back of Hawkeye landed most painfully in the backs of every viewer who adored him. It’s too bad that Shonda killed Izzie and still didn’t learn that lesson.
Grey’s began with a one night stand that grew into an epic fairy tale romance so fans believed it would end with the happily ever after we were trained to expect, the same one we’ve always awaited. But Shonda killed the hero and now she says viewers will watch Meredith discover what life is like after the fairy tale ends. But viewers won’t discover that because you know what we do when the fairy tale ends? We close the book. That book is closed for me, and a group on Facebook has started a page to boycott Shonda’s shows. You can find it here.
America has not YET adopted my romance novels with the fervor it once reserved for Grey’s, but now is a fine time to start. Pick up a Quacking Alone Romance by Mary Anne Graham, also writing as Olivia Outlaw. At the end of any of my books you’ll never be pulling a knife out of your back or wiping away tears after the hero is brutally killed by a semi-truck. Instead, you’ll be cheering for the fairy tale, full-on happily ever after that I guarantee you’ll find when any of my couples’ tales end.
The tombstone in next week’s episode should read: “Here lies Grey’s Anatomy, born March 27, 2005. It died at the hands of its creator on April 23, 2015.” Let me know what it says because I won’t be watching.