It’s not every show that can recover from the loss of one of its two romantic leads, but that’s just what “Grey’s Anatomy” will be trying to do this fall. While the show has been popular over the years for many reasons, a large part of its early success was certainly due to the chemistry between leads Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey. After Dempsey’s beloved McDreamy was written off last season, Pompeo will now be carrying on the banner without him, but she says she think it’s good for the show to go through transition.
“I always say this. In order for a one hour drama to continue, there have to be big upheavals. Every time we’ve lost a major character — we’ve had such amazing characters on the show — and every time we’ve lost one and it’s been devastating and sad and you think, how can the show go on, but that’s how the writers find inspiration,” explains Pompeo.
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And for a show that’s been on the air over a decade now, that can inject some necessary life into the work for all the crew. “It always feels completely new, which is why it’s easy to keep going,” says Pompeo of the atmosphere once one of the cast members leaves.
The show has gone through some high-profile departures over the years, with the firing of Isaiah Washington after an on-set altercation and Katherine Heigl leaving after criticizing her character’s storylines. But Pompeo has stuck by the show and creator Shonda Rhimes throughout, and when asked if she wished Dempsey had been written off in a different way, answers, “I never question Shonda, ever. What she’s doing is clearly working!”
And that might mean a new romantic interest for Meredith Grey, who’s now scrambling in the wake of the death of the love of her life. In response to the prospect of a new love interest, Pompeo says, “As long as Shonda comes up with it, I’m down for whatever idea she comes up with. She always comes up with great ideas.”
With that in mind, she says, “I know that the focus this year is going to be how do you move on in the face of tragedy, and [Meredith’s] got three kids and I guess to dive into her kids and work is the most logical place.”
After all the tragedy at the end of the last season, Pompeo says this season will likely be a little less dark. “Shonda really wants this season to be a lot lighter,” she explains. “We have some cute interns and some fresh blood, so I think you have to mix it up. We were dark, now we have to go light. You have to keep changing to keep the audience engaged.”