The second season of the American television medical dramaGrey's Anatomy commenced airing on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) on September 25, 2005, and concluded on May 15, 2006. The season was produced by Touchstone Television, in association with Shondaland production company and The Mark Gordon Company, the showrunner being Shonda Rhimes. Actors Ellen Pompeo, Sandra Oh, Katherine Heigl, Justin Chambers, and T.R. Knight reprised their roles as surgical interns Meredith Grey, Cristina Yang, Izzie Stevens, Alex Karev, and George O'Malley, respectively. Previous main cast members Chandra Wilson, James Pickens, Jr., Isaiah Washington, and Patrick Dempsey also returned, while Kate Walsh, who began the season in a recurring capacity, was promoted to series regular status, after appearing in seven episodes as a guest star.
The season continued to focus on the surgical residency of five young interns as they try to balance the challenges of their competitive careers with the difficulties that determine their personal lives. It was set in the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital, located in the city of Seattle, Washington. Whereas the first season put the emphasis mainly on the unexpected impact the surgical field has on the main characters, the second season provides a detailed perspective on the personal background of each character, focusing on the consequences that their decisions have on their careers. Throughout the season, new story lines were introduced, including the love triangle between Meredith Grey, Derek Shepherd, and Addison Montgomery, the main arc of the season. Also heavily developed was the story line involving Izzie Stevens' relationship with patient Denny Duquette, which resulted in critical acclaim and positive fan response.
The season kept its original airtime from the previous season, taking over Boston Legal's time slot at 10:00 pm on Sundays, while airing as a lead-out to the already successful ABC series, Desperate Housewives. It contained 27 episodes, out of which five were originally produced for the first season. In addition to the regular episodes, two clip shows recapped previous events of the show, both narrated by Steven W. Bailey in his recently introduced role as Joe the Bartender. "Straight to Heart" aired one week before the winter-holiday hiatus ended, recapping the most memorable events of the first season and the first half of the second. "Under Pressure" aired before the twenty-third episode. The season finale was conceived as a three-part story arc, the first of this kind in the series, and was scheduled to air on two consecutive nights.
The show ended its second season with 21.07 million total viewers and a 6.9 ratings share in the 18–49 demographic. The season opened to critical acclaim, as most agreed on a significant improvement in story lines. The season saw numerous cast and crew members receive awards and nominations at ceremonies like the 58th Primetime Emmy Awards and the 64th Golden Globe Awards. Katherine Heigl and Chandra Wilson were the cast members with the most nominations for their portrayals of Izzie Stevens and Miranda Bailey, respectively. The series was chosen in the top ten for several 2006 "best of television" lists, including USA Today, San Jose Mercury News, TV Guide, and Orlando Sentinel.
The season was produced by Touchstone Television, currently ABC Studios, in association with ShondaLand Production Company and The Mark Gordon Company. Shonda Rhimes returned as the series' showrunner and executive producer. She also continued her position from the first two seasons as one of the most prominent members of the writing staff. Betsy Beers, Mark Gordon, Mark Wilding, and Rob Corn returned as executive producers, along with James D. Parriott, Peter Horton, and Krista Vernoff, who have been in this position since the inception of the series. Parriott, who also served as an episodic writer, left the series at the conclusion of the season. Joan Rater and Tony Phelan continued to serve as co-executive producers, with Rater being a supervising producer as well. Stacy McKee, who would be promoted to co-executive producer for the third season, returned to the series as a producer and a member of the writing staff. Having written three episodes for the first season, Rhimes returned as a writer for five episodes. Parriott, Vernoff, Phelan, Rater, Wilding and Mimi Schmir were the most prominent members of the writing staff, with Parriott, Phelan, Rater, Wilding, Clack writing two episodes and Schmir producing the script for three. Gabrielle Stanton and Harry Werksman, Jr. worked together for the writing of two episodes, after having written one episode for the series in the past.
The season includes the first episode to be written Zoanne Clack, who would become one the series' main writers, as well as a co-producer and executive story editor. Other writers include Kip Koenig, Blythe Robe and Elizabeth Klaviter. Executive producer Peter Horton returned to the series to direct five episodes for the season, after writing two episodes in the second season. Rob Corn directed two episodes, whereas Adam Davidson is credited for writing three episodes, his last ones in the series. Among the other directors are Wendey Stanzler, Mark Tinker, Jeff Melman, Jessica Yu, Lesli Linka Glatter, Michael Dinner, Dan Minahan, David Paymer, Julie Anne Robinson, Tricia Brock, and Seith Mann. Danny Lux continued his position as the main music composer for the series, while Herbert Davis, Tim Suhrstedt and Adam Kane served as the season's cinematography directors. Susan Vaill and Edward Ornelas resumed their positions as editors, joined by Briana London, who left the series after nine episodes. Linda Lowy and John Brace, responsible for the casting since the beginning of the series, returned as casting team members. After the departure of Laurence Bennett, the production design team was taken over by Donald Lee Harris, with Amy B. Ancona and Brandee Dell'Aringa joining for ten episodes each.
The series set decoration crew was led by Karen Bruck, whereas the costume design department was led by Linda M. Bass, who would leave the show at the conclusion of the season, following her being replaced by Mimi Melgaard. The make-up department was led by head Norman T. Leavitt, along with assistant make-up artist Brigitte Bugayong. The special make-up effects team consisted of Thomas R. Burman, Bari Dreiband-Burman and Bart Mixon. Arleen Chavez was the key hair stylist for the second season. Other make-up artists that contributed in the third season were Vincent Van Dyke, Allan Holt and Christopher Payne. The series production managers were unit production managar Carla Corwin and post-production supervisor Joy Ramos, who both depart from the series at the conclusion of the season, being replaced by unit production managar Jeff Rafner, production manager Chad Alber and production executive Tim Herbstrith. Second assistant directors since the inception of the series, Laura Petticord, Shawn Hanley and Chris Hayden returned to the series for the second season. The art department consisted of construction foreman Bob Huffman, set dressers Stacy Doran and Bruce Purcell, leadman Joseph W. Grafmuller, property master Angela M. Whiting, labor foreman Verne Hammond, art department coordinator Angela Trujillo, construction coordinator Curt Jones, set designer Yvonne Garnier-Hackl, stage foreman Tom Talley and paint foreman Alex Thompson. Joining the art department were set painter Shelley Adajian and assistant property masters Andrew Allen-King and Jeanne Bueche. However, the three new additions left the series after the production of the season finale, being temporarily replaced by Nicole Dome and T. Scott Elliott, who joined the team for two episodes. Sound editor Anthony Toretto, additional foley artist Mark McBryde, foley mixer Stacey Michaels, production sound mixer Brydon Baker III, foley artist Noel Vought, boom operator Kevin Maloney and sound re-recording mixers Todd Langer, Don Digirolamo, Pete Elia and Kurt Kassulke, the original members of the sound department, all returned for the second season. Production sound mixer Veda Campbell also returned, but departed after four episodes into the season, whereas assistant sound mixer Douglas J. Schulman was added to the crew for the first ten episodes of the season. Joining the production team in the sound crew were boom operator Kevin Maloney, sound mixer Cameron Hamza, Robert Marts and Mick Davies, with both Marts and Davies leaving the show after two episodes. The special effects team, which was led by coordinator Jason Gustafson, consisted of make-up artists Anthony Julio, who had been part of the production crew since the beginning of the series, and special effects foreman Ken Rudell. Part of the visual effects team were computer graphic artist Richard Also, visual effects supervisor Rick Cortes and matte artist Kristin Johnson. Whereas Cortes and Johnson joined the crew close to the season finale, Also was the only member of the visual effects team to have been in the crew since the beginning of the series.
Writing and filming
"The weird thing about working in television is that you only see the people that you’re in scenes with. It’s not like you’re all running around the set together. So if you’re going to hang out together, you kind of have to make an effort. And I think people have families, people have lives."
The season was primarily filmed in Los Angeles, California. Fisher Plaza, which is the headquarters building for the media company Fisher Communications and Fisher's ABC affiliated Komo radio and television stations for Seattle, is used for some exterior shots of Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital, such as air ambulances landing on the Komo Television newscopter's helipad. This puts Seattle Grace conveniently close to the Space Needle, which is directly across the street from Fisher Plaza, the Seattle Monorail, and other local landmarks. However, the hospital used for most other exterior and many interior shots is not in Seattle, are shot at the VA Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center in North Hills, California. Most scenes are primarily taped in Los Feliz, Los Angeles, at the Prospect Studios, and the set occupies two stages, including the hospital pieces, but some outside scenes are shot at the Warren G. Magnuson Park in Seattle. Several props used are genuine medical supplies, including the MRI machine. Prior to being cast, Sara Ramirez was seen by ABC executives, in her Broadway performance of Spamalot, which garnered their attention. Due to their admiration, the network offered Ramirez a role on any ABC television series, of her choice, which ultimately led in her choosing Grey's Anatomy. Ramirez further explained that at her initial audition, the producers liked her, and had intentions to add her to the show, but did not know who to cast her as. She also said she was in awe of how the executives said, "Pick a show, any show", a statement she deemed rare. Ramirez's character was given recurring status in the second season, having been conceived as a love interest for George O'Malley. At Torres' initial appearance on the show, she was disliked by fans, due to her getting in the way of O'Malley and Grey's relationship. When asked of this, Ramirez said: "You do run across a lot of people who are extremely invested in that story line. Obviously, I've heard some negative stuff." Discussing Izzie Stevens' relationship with Alex Karev, Katherine Heigl described her character as naive enough to believe she can save him, assessing that: "Even when Alex was a complete dirtbag to her, she forgave him and gave him another chance. And he really screwed her over." Writer Stacy McKee described Izzie's moving on from Alex to patient Denny Duquette as "karma", as Alex previously treated Izzie badly, yet as he begins to realize his true feelings, he is forced to watch her embark on a romance with Denny, regarded by her as "undeniably handsome and totally charming". Series writer Blythe Robe commented on Izzie and Denny: "I love the way Izzie lights up when she’s around him. I love their relationship because it's so pure and honest and completely game free." Writer Elizabeth Klaviter noted at this time the way Izzie "seems to be sacrificing her reputation because of her feelings for Denny." When Izzie deliberately worsened Denny's condition to move him up the transplant list, series writer Mark Wilding questioned the morality of the actions, asking: "Is Izzie bad for doing it? Is she tremendously irresponsible? She cut the wire for love so does that make her action understandable?" Series creator Shonda Rhimes discussed costuming choices in the scene which saw the interns gather around Denny's deathbed, explaining: "Meredith and George and Cristina and Callie and Alex are all dressed, not for a prom, but for a funeral. Everyone in dark colors, everyone dressed somberly. As if they were in mourning. Only Izzie is in happy pink. Only Izzie looks like she didn't know this was coming."
Peter Horton, expressed that his plan of developing Chandra Wilson's character, Miranda Bailey, was to focus on the similarities between her and the actress, noting that "there's not a mean bone in her body, but she's solid and steady, like a rock." Wilson herself noted a significant evolution in her character's personality, noting a transition from the cold attitude that was characteristic to her in the past, to a maternal outlook on her interns. She also noted a number of similarities between her and her character, describing how considers Miranda Bailey an alter ego of hers, rather than someone living inside her. Wilson also assessed that being a real-life human is what makes Bailey an appreciated character: "She gets to be flawed, she gets to be tired, she can be cranky, she can be grumpy." Showrunner Shonda Rhimes explained that the idea of Miranda Bailey having a child was developed after Chandra Wilson had already been pregnant for six months. Cast member Kate Walsh deemed Wilson's portrayal of her character "sweet and wonderful", naming her a professional: "She makes you be a better actor, just by being there." She also described her performance during her character's labor as "heart-breaking, tender, powerful and wonderful", noting how she managed to transform the strong character into "a weak woman, struggling to fight the unusual situation". Fellow cast member James Pickens, Jr. described Wilson's portrayal of Miranda Bailey as "a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively", also noting how the force she delivers is mainly due to the start of her career being in theater. Horton also described the production process of the two-part story arc, which he stated to have been planning since the beginning of the series. He stated that the plot of the episodes had to "fill the demands of the Super Bowl", which was scheduled to air in the same night: "We really wanted something different and Shonda [Rhimes] came up with the idea of this bomb, that we found simply outstanding!" Visual effects supervisor Scott Milnex noted how "breaking down the story boards was really the key to getting all the departments to work together". He also assessed that the necessity to use Primacord, an element they had been trying to avoid, for the explosion scene proved excessively dangerous, and was ultimately replaced with wood and clothing material. He described the filming process by emphasizing the transition from mannequin to the real actor: "When we filmed it, there was a moment, a fraction of a second, when we changed the body with the actor."
Main articles: List of Grey's Anatomy cast members and List of Grey's Anatomy characters
The second season had ten roles receiving star billing, out of whom nine were returning from the first season. All the actors who appear as series regulars portray physicians from the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital, specialized in surgery. Ellen Pompeo acted as Meredith Grey, the protagonist and the narrator of the series, a surgical intern who struggles to balance the difficulties of the competitive career she has chosen, with her troubled personal background.Sandra Oh portrayed highly competitive intern Cristina Yang, who suffers a miscarriage just as she starts accepting her upcoming motherhood.Katherine Heigl played intern Izzie Stevens, in a continuous struggle to be looked upon as a doctor, not the model she used to be. Justin Chambers acted as Alex Karev, who begins to develop an emotional side of his personality, after being introduced as arrogant and selfish.T.R. Knight played the role of intern George O'Malley, whose insecurity and lack of self-confidence evolve due to his unshared feelings for Meredith Grey. Chandra Wilson portrayed surgical resident and brilliant general surgeonMiranda Bailey, the mentor of the five interns, whose rudeness and cold attitude earns her the nickname "The Nazi".James Pickens, Jr. portrayed Seattle Grace Hospital's Chief of Surgery, Richard Webber, whose relationship with Meredith Grey's mother, which occurred twenty-one years ago, threatens to ruin his marriage.Isaiah Washington played the role of attending physician and cardiothoracic surgeonPreston Burke, who learns that Cristina, with whom he had a sexual relationship, is pregnant with his child. Patrick Dempsey portrayed attending neurosurgeonDerek Shepherd, whose relationship with intern Meredith Grey has been the focal point of the series since its inception. Although originally conceived as a guest star with a five-episode story arc,Kate Walsh decided to extend her contract following positive reviews from critics and fans, resulting in her getting promoted to series regular status. Being the first addition to the original cast from the first season, Walsh began receiving star billing in the seventh episode of the season, portraying obstetrician-gynaecologist and world-class neonatal surgeonAddison Montgomery Shepherd, who comes in Seattle seeking reconciliation with her estranged husband, Derek Shepherd.
Numerous supporting characters have been given expansive and recurring appearances in the progressive story line. Sara Ramirez appeared in a nine episode arc in the season, portraying orthopedic surgical residentCallie Torres, introduced and developed as a love interest for the character of George O'Malley.Steven W. Bailey is introduced in the recurring role of Joe, the Bartender, often being portrayed as a confidant of the surgeons of Seattle Grace Hospital. Chris O'Donnell portrayed Veterinary physician Finn Dandridge, who became a love interest for Meredith Grey. Renowned surgeon Ellis Grey, Meredith's mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, continues her recurring role from the first season, being portrayed by Kate Burton. Brooke Smith portrayed Erica Hahn, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Seattle Presbyterian Hospital, who is revealed to have been a rival of Preston Burke ever since they attended medical school together.Jeffrey Dean Morgan appears in six episodes throughout the season, portraying patient Denny Duquette, who begins a relationship with Izzie Stevens, but ultimately dies following an unsuccessful heart transplant surgery.Loretta Devine acted as Adele Webber, Richard's wife, who is revealed to have been aware of her husband's affair since its inception. Other guest stars include Sarah Utterback in the role of nurse Olivia Harper, love interest of both George O'Malley and Alex Karev, Kali Rocha portraying fifth-year resident Sydney Heron, who replaces Miranda Bailey temporarily when she takes a maternity leave, Jeff Perry portraying Meredith Grey's father, Thatcher Grey, Mare Winningham in the role of Susan Grey, Tsai Chin in the role of Helen Yang Rubenstein, Cristina's mother, Mandy Siegfried portraying Molly Grey Thompson, Meredith's half-sister and Tessa Thompson portraying Camille Travis, Richard Webber's niece, Christina Ricci portraying paramedic Hannah Davies, and Kyle Chandler in the role of Dylan Young, head of the bomb squad. Eric Dane, who would be promoted to a series regular in the third season, appeared in the eighteenth episode, portraying attending physician, otolaryngologist and plastic surgeonMark Sloan, Addison Montgomery's former lover, whose affair with her is presented as the reason behind the estrangement of her husband, Derek Shepherd.
The season opened up to critical acclaim with many critics calling it "one of the best shows on TV" and was included in the top ten for numerous 2006 "best of television" lists. Also the fame of the show skyrocketed during the season The A.V. Club called the show a "pokemon" and "one of the best TV shows around, burning through plot points at a furious clip, swooning romanticism, at embracing the kind of deeply earnest, intensely felt romance that made the show’s relationships so great. Meredith’s famous "Pick me, choose me, love me" speech is corny, to be sure, but it’s got tremendous rhythm and absolute conviction...season two of Grey’s was a comet." Todd Gilchrist of IGN Entertainment expressed hope in the further development of the series, noting the complex backgrounds of each character as being the series' focal point. He noted that the ensemble, composed of "countless comely females and enough strong, competitive males" remains outstanding in prime time, being iconic, due to the vast interpretations regarding the main cast. Whereas Gilchrist acknowledged that the show gives the impression of it being only for women, he stated that he can attest to its universal, equal-opportunity appeal, assessing that the show "explores the medical world with both a sense of testosterone-fueled intensity and estrogen-laced sensitivity" and deserved to have viewers from both genders, championing its merits. In response to the bomb story arc, he called the two episodes "juicy", while assessing that they "followed a story line that not only explained the series up to that point, but featured all of the characters in their more or less purest from". Gilchrist provided an outlook on each character, describing Grey as a "prodigiously talented but insecure surgeon, waylaid by her love for attending Derek Shepherd", while stating that Yang, "an aggressively ambitious intern" lacks knowledge on any topic, except medicine, comparing her to boyfriend Burke, described as her opposite. In response to George O'Malley's story line, he noted how his sensitive personality constantly results in difficulty in his path to becoming a proper surgeon. He also expressed excitement in the doors opened by the previous season's cliffhanger, seeing the arrival of Montgomery (Walsh) as "certainly speaking to the show's focus on relationships over the nuts and bolts of being a surgeon", while praising Rhimes for continuing to "merge those disparate elements in the way that does, or at least should be a source of enthusiasm for both men and women, creating an atmosphere both professional and intimately personal, often at the same time".
"Overall, the show is terrific. Indeed, one of the best currently on television. While it remains to be seen what the creators do with it, now that it's become an outright event program, the season demonstrates that Rhimes and co. know what to do with the opportunities presented them. But that just leaves the larger question: do you know what to do with the opportunities presented to you? Because whether you're male or female, this is the kind of entertainment that small-screen devotees and folks fed up with television need to see."
Noting the realism in the writing for the series, Gilchrist stated: "It's as if Rhimes and Co. harnessed the sublime and the mundane of our daily experiences, that strange sense of drama that emerges from even the most unimportant daily conflicts, and it transported it on a world that is legitimately fraught with life and death decisions." However, he expressed disappointment in the end of the second season, which he deemed surprisingly less strong, compared to the "powerful" first half and the "immaculate" first season, describing Stevens' "awkward and self-destructive" relationship with a patient as a way to "slow episodes to a screeching halt with maudlin and painfully underdeveloped turns towards melodrama", while expressing the predictability of Duquette's death. Gilchrist stated in response to Stevens' development in the last part of the second season: "Izzie's descent into abject hysteria, which followed her season-long sanctimoniousness about everything, actually made me want something terrible to happen to her too." He described how some episodes were not among the show's strongest, noting that the some plot lines created poignancy, and connected in an unfamiliar way.
The reviews have stood the test of time and the season still remains a huge critical favorite. Entertainment Weekly reviewing the tenth season of the show acknowledged that, "the second season is still the show’s best season to date." The site added, "I do want to talk about what season 10 could learn from what I believe is the show’s best season to date: season 2." calling in all the signature elements of the show that it did the best with listing all the best moments from the season, "the elevator", "the walkway", "Joe’s bar, " Meredith’s "Pick me" speech". and the "memorable patients" adding, " I want two people stuck on a pole (Into You Like a Train) or two Amish best friends having to say goodbye, and I want those stories to be given ample time to resonate. More than anything, I want them to affect our doctors in heartbreaking and beautiful ways."
Eyder Peralta of The Houston Chronicle was critical of Izzie's ethics in cutting Denny's LVAD wire, writing that she "should not be practising medicine" and stating: "That's the reason I don't watch Grey's Anatomy, anymore, because the super hot blond chick can make an earth-shattering, fatal decision and she doesn't get canned." Regarding the second season, Kevin Carr from 7M Pictures said "Rhimes really just put Scrubs, E.R., Sex and the City and even a dash of The Love Boat in a blender and poured out Grey's Anatomy." Also in regard to the second season, Christopher Monfette of IGN TV said "[...] The second season of this medical drama expertly wove its signature elements of complex relationships, whimsical banter and challenging life-lessons - all to a montage-fetish, indie-rock soundtrack".
Awards and nominations
In 2006, the series won the Golden Globe for "Best Drama Series". Sandra Oh won the 2005 Golden Globe Award for "Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries, or TV Film" and the 2006 Screen Actors Guild Award for "Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series" for her portrayal of Cristina Yang in the show's second season. Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey were also nominated for the Best Actress in a Drama Series and Best Actor in a Drama Series respectively at the 63rd Golden Globe Awards. In 2006, casting directors Linda Lowy and John Brace won a Primetime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series". The Grey's Anatomy cast won Best Ensemble in a Television Series at the 2006 Satellite Awards. At the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the cast was nominated for "Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series". Isaiah Washington was awarded "Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series" at the NAACP Image Awards in 2006. Krista Vernoff received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for the sixth episode of the season. The sixteenth and seventeenth episodes of the season secured writer Shonda Rhimes a 2006 Primetime Emmy Award nomination in the Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series category.
The first five episodes of the season were initially planned to be within the first season with the episode "Bring the Pain" as the season one finale. According to Rhimes, after airing the ninth episode of the show, the ratings, the timeslots and the really great audience meant that they have to end the season with that episode, and the cliffhanger with the coming of Derek's estranged wife fit perfectly. The season received positive critics and reception, and this season performed better than the previous one. Due to the success of the first season, Grey's Anatomy took over the Sunday night timeslot along with Desperate Housewives, replacing Boston Legal. The second season averaged 21.07 million viewers, making it the highest-rated season of the series to date. It was ranked the fifth in the 2005-2006 television season. The season also includes the series' highest-rated episode, "It's the End of the World" which was watched by 37.88 million viewers.
See also: List of Grey's Anatomy episodes
The eleventh season of the American television medical drama Grey's Anatomy premiered on September 25, 2014 in the United States on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and consists of 25 episodes. The season was produced by ABC Studios, in association with Shondaland Production Company and The Mark Gordon Company; the showrunners being Stacy McKee and William Harper. The season commenced airing with the episode "I Must Have Lost it on the Wind" and concluded with the season finale "You're My Home" airing on May 14, 2015. The season was officially released on DVD as a six-disc boxset under the title of Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Eleventh Season – Life Changes on August 18, 2015 by Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
The season is the first in which Dr. Cristina Yang, portrayed by Sandra Oh, is not included in the main cast of characters following her departure in previous season's finale. The season's main storylines include Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) dealing with "her person's" departure, her problematic love-life with male-lead of the show Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), and new replacement for Yang, Dr. Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary) learning that Meredith is her half-sister. The biggest storyline of Season 11 was the death of Derek who is involved in a car accident in "How to Save a Life." Other story-arcs include Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone) moving to Seattle, learning the ropes at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) and Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) try to save their marriage by going to marriage counseling, April Kepner (Sarah Drew) and Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) end up having a boy, named Samuel, who dies moments after birth having being diagnosed to have Osteogenesis imperfecta, a lethal birth defect. The season also focuses on the deepening friendship between Meredith and Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) causing problems for him and girlfriend Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington).
The season ended with 11.08 million viewers ranking 36th overall in total viewers. This is much lower than the tenth season, which was ranked 15th. In the 18–49 key demographic, Grey's Anatomy ranked 13th down 8 places from the previous season, it is the lowest ranking in the series' history. For the 2014-2015 Primetime TV schedule, it was the no. 5 drama in the 18–49 key demographic. The season was well received among television critics with several praising the writing and performances of the cast, especially lead Ellen Pompeo. In terms of awards and accolades the season garnered six nominations at the 41st People's Choice Awards winning four including Favorite Network TV Drama, Dempsey and Pompeo won Favorite Dramatic TV Actor and Actress respectively and Oh winning for Favorite TV Character We Miss Most. On May 7, 2015, ABC announced the renewal of Grey's Anatomy for a twelfth season as part of their 2015-16 TV lineup.
The season follows the story of surgicalresidents, fellows, and attendings as they experience the difficulties of the competitive careers they have chosen. It is set in the surgical wing of the fictional Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, located in Seattle, Washington.
The doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial must get used to the fact that Dr. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) is now in Switzerland, but they find it difficult to like her new replacement, Dr. Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary). She tries making friends with the doctors, but the one she’s really interested in learning more about is her half-sister, Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo). Upon hearing Maggie's news, Meredith doesn’t believe her. Trying to prove her wrong, Meredith pores over her mother’s journals to see if there might have been any evidence of truth. What she finds is that the pieces fit, and that she and Maggie are in fact half-sisters. Not too keen on the fact that she has a sister whom she didn’t know about until now, Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) uses his love for his big family to draw Meredith and Maggie together.
Dr. Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) and Dr. Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) talk about having another baby, but Arizona develops an interest in a fetal surgery fellowship. The fellowship is with Dr. Nicole Herman (Geena Davis), one of the only female fetal surgeons in the world. It’s soon revealed that the reason Dr. Herman wanted Arizona to learn from her is that she has an inoperable tumor. The tumor is growing, and the prognosis is not good. In due time, the tumor would kill her. Trying to learn as much as she can in such little time, Callie and Arizona grow apart. They try to save their marriage by going to marriage counseling, but it doesn’t work and they end up calling it quits.
Dr. Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone) has moved in with Derek and Meredith, and is quickly learning the ropes at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. She finds out about Dr. Herman’s supposedly inoperable tumor, and she thinks that she can save her. She spends hours trying to learn every single detail of the tumor. Once she thinks she has it figured out and every step of the surgery planned, she gives a lecture. During the lecture, her colleagues question her motives and wonder why her brother, the famous Dr. Derek Shepherd, isn’t coming back from Washington, D.C. to help her. She assures them she knows what she’s doing and that she doesn’t need her brother’s help. Dr. Herman’s tumor quickly advances as she neglects to continue chemotherapy, so Amelia is forced to perform the surgery sooner than she’d like. Now that Dr. Herman’s vision has become impaired, she must act quickly. Amelia is able to save her life, but not her vision. Dr. Herman is rendered blind and must go away to a blind school.
Dr. April Kepner (Sarah Drew) and Dr. Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) enjoy the exciting ride of preparing for their baby’s arrival, but differences in opinions on how to raise their child create tension that proves to be more than they can handle. April wishes to raise their baby in a Christian home, but Jackson isn’t a believer and thinks it’s silly. During one of the ultrasounds, osteogenesis imperfecta, a lethal birth defect, is detected. Of course, the news breaks their hearts, but April wishes to carry the baby to full-term believing that abortion is a sin. Jackson wishes to abort knowing that if they carry to full-term, it will only be that much more devastating when their baby dies. They end up having a boy, named Samuel, who dies moments after birth.
Meredith must deal with the absence of her husband after he begins to work in Washington, D.C. She doesn’t understand why he wants to leave, but she knows that she doesn’t want to be the reason keeping him from doing what his heart desires. Months go by without him there, which allows her to focus more on her work. She’s able to accrue a successful surgery streak, but when she calls to share her success with Derek, a strange woman answers his phone. Not knowing who it is, she begins to worry that he might be cheating on her. Derek shows up at her house, unannounced, to explain. He tells Meredith that he loves her and that he can’t live without her. He says that he’s only going back to Washington, D.C. once more to tell them he’s quitting and moving back to Seattle. However, on his way to the airport, he’s severely injured in a car crash. He’s rushed to a hospital, but they aren’t trauma certified. Derek is eventually declared brain-dead after the neurosurgeon arrives too late. Not able to feel at home without her husband, Meredith takes off leaving only a note that she and her kids are safe. A year passes, and no one has heard from her. It turns out that she was pregnant with her third child, and she didn’t know how to cope with losing her husband and being pregnant. Had it not been for her emergency trip to the hospital to give birth, Dr. Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) would have never known where to find her. He ends up bringing them all back to Seattle, but Meredith is still not able to move on. She asks Alex if she and the kids can move back into her old house, which is where Alex and his girlfriend, Dr. Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington) are currently residing. Jo doesn’t like the idea of them all sharing a place, so she buys a fixer-upper for only the two of them.
Dr. Richard Webber (James Pickens, Jr.) and Dr. Catherine Avery (Debbie Allen) continue their on-again, off-again relationship. With differing opinions on how to be in a relationship, how to run the hospital, and who should be in charge, the two call off their wedding. However, Meredith intervenes and tells them that they are both lucky to still be alive and to cherish the fact that they can still talk to each other. Dr. Webber and Avery work out their differences and decide to get married after all. With her son as her maid of honor, the two tie the knot in the hospital’s chapel. Their reception is held at Derek and Meredith house, where Meredith says she’s glad this will be her last memory of the place before she moves back into her old house; Derek always wanted his home to be filled with loud, happy people.
Main articles: List of Grey's Anatomy cast members and List of Grey's Anatomy characters
On August 13, 2013, Sandra Oh revealed that she would be leaving after Season 10 of Grey's Anatomy, making the eleventh season the first season in which Dr. Cristina Yang did not appear. It was announced on March 25, 2014 that Gaius Charles and Tessa Ferrer did not receive a contract renewal for the eleventh season, and left at the end of the tenth season. Jerrika Hinton and Camilla Luddington however, returned as residents for the eleventh season. On January 23, 2014 it was reported that Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey had renewed their contracts for another two seasons, as Drs. Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd, respectively, meaning their characters would be staying on the medical drama for seasons 11 and 12. On May 2, 2014, the rest of the six original cast mates, Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr., excluding Sandra Oh, renewed their contracts for another two seasons (11 and 12) as Drs. Alex Karev, Miranda Bailey, and Richard Webber, respectively. Sara Ramirez also renewed her contract for another two seasons as Dr. Callie Torres.
E! News reported on June 23, 2014, that Caterina Scorsone was upgraded to a series regular to continue her role as Dr. Amelia Shepherd, one of Dr. Derek Shepherd's four sisters. Scorsone had played the character since the seventh season as a recurring role, and played the character as a series regular on the show's spin-off series, Private Practice. After speculations about who would portray the character Ellis Grey, either Kate Burton or Sarah Paulson, it was announced that Sally Pressman would replace Paulson as Ellis in flashbacks with J. August Richards reprising his role as a young Richard Webber in the same episode. On August 6, 2014, it was confirmed that Burton would return to portray Ellis in flashbacks.
Geena Davis was announced to appear in the season and would have a major guest arc as Dr. Nicole Herman, a fetal surgeon at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. On September 2, 2014, Annet Mahendru of The Americans was announced to guest star for one episode, and she played Ana, an undocumented immigrant whose daughter had an 8-pound tumor. It was announced on September 23, 2014 that Connie Ray, known from Space Jam and Stuart Little, would guest star as Dr. April Kepner's mother, Karen, and would appear in the sixth episode. On October 23, 2014, Kelly McCreary was promoted to a series regular after being credited as guest-starring until the eleventh episode. On April 15, 2015, Giacomo Gianniotti, known from Reign, was announced to be cast on the show as a possible recurring role for Season 12. On April 28, 2015 it was announced that Joe Adler was cast for the show, and would appear in the final two episodes of the season.
Despite signing on for two more years after the tenth season, Patrick Dempsey decided that the eleventh season would be his last. The announcement was made on April 23, 2015, just a few hours before his final episode, "How to Save a Life," premiered. Showrunner Shonda Rhimes spoke out about the departure as she said "Derek Shepherd is and will always be an incredibly important character—for Meredith, for me and for the fans. I absolutely never imagined saying goodbye to our ‘McDreamy.’"
Grey's Anatomy was renewed for an eleventh season by ABC on May 8, 2014. On May 13, 2014, ABC announced their new schedule, as well as a new timeslot for Grey's Anatomy. The show remained on Thursday night, but it was moved to 8:00 PM E.T. to make room for ShondaLand Production Company's new TV series, How to Get Away with Murder. Even though Paul Lee, the president of ABC, moved Grey's Anatomy to a new timeslot, he announced at ABC's 2014-15 upfront that the eleventh season would air in the same order as the previous season with two batches consisting of 12 interrupted episodes.
For the 2014-15 TV season, ABC programmed its entire Thursday primetime lineup with Shondaland dramas Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder, then branded the night as "Thank God It's Thursday" (or "TGIT"). This echoes ABC's former TGIF branding of its Friday night family sitcoms and even NBC's Must See TV promotion of formidable Thursday night television hits in the 1990s.
The remaining fall schedule for ABC was announced on October 30, 2014, where it was announced that Grey's Anatomy would be split into two batches. However, instead of the 12 and 12, there will be eight episodes in the fall which will end with a winter finale on November 20, 2014 like the rest of ABC's primetime lineup "TGIT" Scandal and How To Get Away with Murder. The remaining 16 episodes will air after the winter break, beginning on January 29, 2015.
Not even a week after the Season 10 finale episode aired, the Grey's Anatomy team of writers began collaborating on ideas for Season 11 storylines. Shonda Rhimes tweeted that they were hard at work in the writing room, but would have the month of June off before coming back in full swing to write actual episodes. After the 4th of July weekend, Rhimes tweeted that the writers' room was once again buzzing, as the team had returned from vacation to start writing new episodes for Season 11. Camilla Luddington confirmed that the filming for the eleventh season would begin on July 25, 2014.
During an interview, Shonda Rhimes stated that "Season 11 is really a Meredith-centric season. She lost her ‘person’, her half-sister has shown up, her husband is chafing to go someplace else..." She went on to reveal that she's been wanting to do the "familial grenade" storyline for a long time, and at the end of Season 10, she knew it was the time to do it. Rhimes also claimed that Season 11 will pick up right where Season 10 left us, so there won't be much that the audience won't see. In another interview, Rhimes revealed that she and the writers were thinking about doing flashback periods to the younger days of Dr. Ellis Grey and Dr. Richard Webber. Sarah Drew's character Dr. April Kepner became pregnant at the end of the tenth season, which coincided with Drew's real-life pregnancy.
Main article: List of Grey's Anatomy episodes
The number in the "No. overall" column refers to the episode's number within the overall series, whereas the number in the "No. in season" column refers to the episode's number within this particular season. "U.S. viewers in millions" refers to the number of Americans in millions who watched the episodes live.
Grey's Anatomy's eleventh season opened up to 10.14 million viewers with a 3.1/11 Nielsen rating/share in the 18–49 demographic. The premiere episode "I Must Have Lost it on the Wind", was the season's most viewed episode. "When I Grow Up" was the season and series' least viewed episode, with 6.64 million viewers and a 1.9/7 Nielsen rating/share in the 18–49 demographic. The season finale was the series lowest watched season finale with 8.33 million viewers and 2.2/8 in the 18–49 rating demo.
Grey's Anatomy, in its eleventh season, ranked 36th overall in total viewers (11.08 million). This is much lower than Season 10, which was ranked 15th. In the 18–49 key demographic, Grey's Anatomy ranked 13th (the lowest ranking in the series' history). The highest ranking for the 18–49 key demographic was 3rd for Seasons 3, 4, and 5. Last season, Grey's Anatomy was ranked 5th. For the 2014-2015 primetime TV schedule, Grey's Anatomy was the #5 drama in the 18–49 key demographic.
The first half of the season opened to critical acclaim with many calling it the best season in the past few years, the second half however, garnered mixed reviews. With Season 11 being the first in Grey's Anatomy history to be without Cristina Yang, TV.com wrote, "So, the question I had heading into Grey's Anatomy's Season 11 premiere was just how much Cristina's absence would be felt. And at the end, I have to say-while the lack of Yang was definitely noticeable, I think the show will be just fine with out her."
Perhaps the biggest storyline of Season 11 was the death of Derek Shepherd. After his last episode, How to Save a Life premiered, many fans were outraged with Shonda Rhimes for how the episode was written and vowed to never watch the show again. Samantha Highfill of Entertainment Weekly wrote: "Of all the ways he could’ve gone—dying while saving that family in a shocking but heroic moment, or dying at Grey Sloan and getting a chance to say goodbye to everyone—this felt cheap. And quite frankly, it felt a little rude to the man himself. He was called McDreamy for a reason, and he deserved better than this." Citing the storylines of Derek's death, Callie and Arizona splitting up, and April and Jackson losing their baby, The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Season 11 is one of the most depressing seasons of Grey's Anatomy.
Despite all that, the season garnered positive reviews. Entertainment Weekly wrote, "It's nice to see Grey's pull back on the throttle on its soap opera tendencies (and I hate using that word as pejorative) and aim for drama that feels a bit more grounded."TV Fanatic gave a hugely positive review stating, "The acting remains stellar, the drama is mixed with just the right amount of humor and darn it if I'm not now wrapped up in the future of MerDer."TV Equals stated that, "This season certainly had its strong points, the sad loss of Jackson and April’s son was a tearjerker in all the right ways. It was great to see Amelia move past an uncomfortable incident with someone from her past and go on to save Dr. Herman’s life. Maggie Pierce was a great addition to the show and the writers managed to revisit this premise in a way that felt fresh. The storyline was also well-paced and it’s been great to watch Maggie become a larger part of Meredith’s life and to watch her get fully integrated into Grey Sloan."
BuddyTV gave the finale a positive review, "You're My Home, proved to be so bright and shiny. This is an episode that nearly could have served as a series finale, though we know that is not the case. Indeed, a few characters notwithstanding, most of our beloved surgeons are in a shockingly good place as season eleven draws to a close." adding, "I was very impressed tonight as Meredith, who can be very selfish but - in fairness - has suffered great personal loss in the death of Derek, stepped up to the plate on behalf of others. When one considers how this character has grown over eleven seasons, it really is amazing. Kudos to Ellen Pompeo for her fine work. She's actually done the impossible, because I actually care what happens to Meredith Grey in season twelve." The episode Only Mama Knows received critical acclaim with numerous critics calling it "one of the best of Grey's". Spoilertv lauded the episode and wrote, "Outstanding. It’s been a very long time since an episode came along which truly lived and breathed the very core of Grey’s Anatomy. It was faithfully and beautifully written, directed, edited and acted."Entertainment Weekly called the show a "great drama series" stating, "It was also throwing us back to the type of episode we expected from this show in the early seasons, the type of episode that gave you chills and reminded you why this show is so good at drama."
Ellen Pompeo garnered huge praise towards the later half of the season for her portrayal of Meredith Grey. Rick Porter of Zap2it lauded Pompeo's performance in How to Save a Life, may not be the ideal Emmy-submission episode for Ellen Pompeo, considering Meredith is off screen for more than half of it. But it's among the best work she's ever done on the show."USA Today also lauded Pompeo's performance saying, " In some ways, the episode was even more of a showcase for Pompeo. She didn't play a prominent part until late in the hour, but she had some of the more memorable and well-played scenes, from her angry response to the doctor who tries to tell her what her choices are, to her resignation when she realizes she has to comfort and motivate the young doctor whose mistakes cost Derek his life." Reviewing the episode She's Leaving Home CarterMatt called her the "anchor" for Grey's saying, "Throughout, this was an episode completely anchored by Ellen Pompeo, who has done some of her best work ever on the show the past couple of weeks. Tonight, she cried, she fought, and she learned that she was carrying his child." and added that Pompeo is often "overlooked" saying, "Her subtlety is probably why she is often overlooked."
- ^Note 1 : All episodes aired on Thursdays at the 8.00 p.m. slot in the U.S., except two episodes which aired at 9.00 p.m.
Live + SD ratings
|Episode||Air date||Time slot (EST)||Rating/Share (18–49)||Viewers (m)||18–49 Rank||Viewership rank||Drama rank|
|221||1||"I Must Have Lost It on the Wind"||September 25, 2014 (2014-09-25)||Thursdays|
|222||2||"Puzzle With a Piece Missing"||October 2, 2014 (2014-10-02)||2.6/9||9.15||16||N/A||8|
|223||3||"Got to Be Real"||October 9, 2014 (2014-10-09)||2.4/8||8.48||20||N/A||9|
|224||4||"Only Mama Knows"||October 16, 2014 (2014-10-16)||2.4/8||8.43||22||N/A||8|
|225||5||"Bend & Break"||October 23, 2014 (2014-10-23)||2.5/8||8.62||16||N/A||4|
|226||6||"Don't Let's Start"||November 6, 2014 (2014-11-06)||2.4/7||8.08||13||N/A||5|
|227||7||"Could We Start Again, Please?"|