Let’s be honest- everyone and their brother (yes, men watch it too) used to tune into the gasping drama that was early Grey’s Anatomy. From the Derek-Meredith-Addison love triangle to the “Pick Me, Choose Me, Love Me” line that has become iconic, the early seasons were littered with medical mysteries and steamy scenes to keep everyone engaged. But as the love triangles turned into dodecahedrons and the traumatic ends to each season kept coming, reality could only be stretched so thin… and everything turned predictable.
According to this study, only a couple of states searched for Grey’s Anatomy enough for it to be their most popular medical show. House, E.R., and General Hospital all took home the crown for regional popularity, but Grey’s Anatomy didn’t even come close. It’s possible that people have grown tired of waiting for the end of the season to see what fresh horror Shonda Rhimes has in store for the core group of doctors still around from the early seasons.
Make no mistake, Grey’s Anatomy is a fantastic show. The characters are incredibly diverse, the doctors are human, and the storylines play right into the soap opera territory that we all crave. But at this point, we know that nobody will ever live happily ever after, so even when we finally see the people we want to see together- Derek and Meridith, Callie and Arizona, April and Jackson, Christina and Owen- something will happen to tear them apart. The show has become predictable in its unpredictability, and all we do know is that the story will end badly.
For many people, the final straw was the death of (spoiler alert!) Derek Shepherd. The pointless plot twist and vindictive deprivation of Meredith Grey’s happiness threw fans into a state of frustration that lead to them refusing to continue watching. If even the central characters aren’t safe, then, well, what’s the point?
The show has been on for 15 years at this point, and presumably, the show will keep going until the fan base finally screams “ENOUGH!”. Long-running TV shows don’t age gracefully. To keep their audiences engaged, there must be drama and plot twists and shocking revelations, and it’s just not conducive to a story that goes on for so long. Actors leave the show, storylines are over complicated, and new characters are brought in to fill the gaps until the early seasons are a distant memory and we wonder how we got into this mess.
Grey’s Anatomy still attracts millions of viewers for the new seasons and the old. The consistently touching storyline means fans are willing to continue watching as new characters take over the old roles and the wild popularity of the early seasons keeps people binge-watching the old seasons consistently. The streaming of old seasons is what appears to be keeping the show afloat, according to this study. It seems like as long as Ellen Pompeo is willing to step into Meredith Grey’s scrubs, the series will continue going strong. After that, well, I’m sure Shonda Rhimes will think of something!