Grey’s Anatomy: Telling the powerful stories of healthcare workers in COVID


An image of actress Ellen Pompeo playing Meredith Grey in the long-awaited new season of hit medical drama Grey’s Anatomy.

With this pandemic having debilitating effects on every aspect of our lives, it is undeniable that healthcare workers, who have been on the front lines of this crisis since day one, have faced the brunt of COVID-19. Experts of a new study published in the BMJ Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal have found that healthcare workers are seven times more likely to have severe COVID-19. These dedicated workers are constantly risking their lives to save those around them, while facing strenuous working hours, suffering under weighty amounts of personal protective equipment, and having to be socially distant from their own families.

However, the stories of healthcare workers are often drowned out due to the hectic nature of this pandemic. So it is a beautiful thing to see medical shows like Grey’s Anatomy vocalizing the horrors of COVID-19 and putting a personal lens on the pandemic.

Ever since its first episode’s release in 2005, medical drama Grey’s Anatomy has been telling the stories of those in the medical field for over a decade. Now, with the show being one of the most popular medical dramas in the world and a pandemic raging across the globe, Grey’s Anatomy’s deep messages have never been more crucial.

Filming for season 17 started on Tuesday, September 8, 2020, with social distancing and mask-wearing protocols being implemented and followed steadfastly. The season premiered on Thursday, November 12, 2020, and episodes have been released every Thursday since then. The sixth and last episode to be released in 2020, dubbed the “Winter Finale”, was released on Thursday, December 17, 2020. Grey’s Anatomy is marked to return from its episode hiatus on Thursday, March 4, 2021.

In the first six episodes of the new season, things are looking extremely bleak. Every main character is carrying the burden of caring for COVID patients, while a handful have even contracted the debilitating virus. Everyone working on this season has done a phenomenal job of highlighting the extremely heavy emotional impacts of this pandemic on healthcare workers, whose experiences have gone practically unheard. 

One new aspect that I truly enjoy in this new show set-up is the increased frequency of sole, intimate character-to-character interactions. With social distancing protocols, it is much safer to just have two actors interacting with one another on set. Thus, the writers have set up the show to include extremely candid conversations between two characters that spur the plot along. Allowing characters to have close discussions on crucial subjects makes the show feel deeper and more profound instead of shallow and overdramatic.

Alongside tackling issues of COVID, Grey’s Anatomy has continued to discuss crucial interpersonal, political, and social issues in society. From discussing concepts such as sex trafficking to health equity considering race and everything in between, Grey’s Anatomy not only fulfills its role as a medical drama, but acts as a symbol and catalyst for change.

Despite the many restrictions this pandemic has brought to the filming and production of the show, the new season of Grey’s Anatomy has had a fantastic start! The show features one of the most coronavirus-centered TV plots since studios have started filming again, and this sometimes results in audiences feeling overwhelmed by dreary facts and horrid stories. However, the show still weaves in romance, lighthearted moments, and emotional surprises that allow it to stay dynamic. In all, I would rate the first six episodes of season 17 of Grey’s Anatomy a 9/10.