Depending on your point of view, the Season Six finale of Grey's Anatomy was either one of the show's all-time best or a sign of just how far it's fallen from its glory years.
Below, two of our staff writers explore these opposing viewpoints as we head into the summer: Has Grey's Anatomy jumped the shark - and are its best days behind it?
YES by M.L. House
I fell in love with Grey's Anatomy because it was a drama based around a number of well-written characters. Over the last couple of seasons, however, it's devolved into a melodrama based around a number of lazily concocted gimmicks.
I miss the days when story ines were built around heartbreak, affairs, deaths and births. Stuff that happened all the time to regular, flawed people.
But consider the events that have taken place of the last few years:
- Viewers watched some strange version of Meredith (and the bomb squad tech) in heaven.
- Izzie operated on a deer.
- Instead of sending George off to Iraq, the character was suddenly killed off in a blatant ratings ploy.
- Denny returned as a ghost (and gave Izzie an orgasm!).
- A crazed gunman wandered around the halls of Seattle Grace, murdering numerous people in cold blood, while the SWAT team chilled outside.
Do most shows decrease in quality as seasons go by? Yes. It can be difficult to come up with fresh material, I understand. But Shonda Rhimes told us repeatedly over the years that Grey's was a show that focused on layered characters and their interactions with one another.
This simply isn't true anymore.
It's now a show that glides by on unique medical cases each week; avoids any real personal or relationship development among its doctors; and then throws in some "game-changing" event to mask the fact that nothing actually happened during the season.
I'm not buying it. I'm not letting this manipulation blind me to the the sloppy, lazy writing that now plagues the series I used to get so excited for every Thursday night.
I really miss that Grey's Anatomy.NO by L.J. Gibbs
My eyes rolled a little when I read the Grey's Anatomy spoilers about someone shooting up the hospital, but my skepticism eroded about two minutes into the episode.
From the moment I saw Gary Clark roaming the halls of Seattle Grace, I got the chills, borderline petrified with fear - not for me, but for fictional TV characters I love.
If you feel that way, that's a sign of consistently excellent writing.
You won't find any argument to the notion that multiple shootings, a live bomb in a body cavity, and various afterlife visits and hallucinations are far-fetched. They are.
To dismiss a work of fiction based on this misses the point, however. By doing so, one discredits characters' relationships and story lines as they pertain to the drama.
Did you not shed a tear for Meredith's miscarriage? Were you not moved by Cristina stepping in to save Derek? Terrified right along with Bailey as she cowered in fear?
Surprised, but a little touched by Lexie declaring her love for Alex? Praying that Derek, then Richard, would disarm the shooter before the body count rose any higher?
The memorable scenes and performances from last week's Grey's Anatomy were so numerous, I had to edit them down to a dozen in my review of the season finale.
This wasn't due to the fact that bullets were flying. It was because of complex characters we've watched develop over years, and how they responded to this adversity.
Our surgeons are brilliant and flawed, McDreamy and imperfect, dark and twisty, bright and shiny. Extreme circumstances can often make them the most fun to watch.
Empirical evidence backs me up - 16,788,000 people watched the season finale, a number most shows never attain, let alone retain five whole years after their debut.
On a smaller scale, TV Fanatic's weekly Grey's Anatomy fan reaction poll has never been as overwhelmingly positive as last Friday's. No surprise - it was gripping TV.
One more number for you: 124. That's the number of Grey's Anatomy episodes I've seen to date. Most of them pretty good if not great. That alone is quite the feat.
Do some of them stretch the limits of believability a bit? Absolutely.
But the characters are always at the center of whatever drama is introduced, and it's compelling. I just hope they can keep this cast together for years to come.
What do you think? Are Grey's Anatomy's best days behind it?