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Has Grey's Anatomy Jumped the Shark?

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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:

Izzie Stevens, Denny Duquette
  • 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?

Mrs. Shepherd Picture

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?

 

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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I so enjoy reading everyones thoughts on GA. Long may it continue! I think anuflas has the correct ages for our main GA characters correct. But if Mer's is not called Mrs Shepherd, and doesn't consider herself as a Mrs Shepherd, what happens when mcbaby arrives? Does s/he get called Grey-Shepherd? (Note I really do believe by episode 150 of GA something will happen) GA is a happyish diversion in my tv watching. Some of the storylines are so soapish, but I don't mind. I hated Gizzie, disliked how the not a brain tumor turned out to be one indirectlly a secondary tumor cos it was skin cancer. I can't say i'm enjoying Der's stint as chief. I'm bored of seeing him as an administrator. Put Webber back there, cos it won't matter so much if he's the admin man

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This show never had a shark to jump -- it's always had over-the-top and irritating moments. I prefer it now.
Many plotlines M.L. House complained about happened a few years ago, when GA was still in its alleged "prime." Cutting the LVAD line was absolutely ridiculous and in Season 2, no? My husband used to make me watch GA, and I HATED it. Almost all the characters seemed self-absorbed and whiny. I remember watching them being so petty and mean to Callie and thinking, "Are we supposed to be rooting for these people?"
I like many of the newer characters better and think some others have matured, though I understand there was a vibe and camaraderie with the Fab 5 that a lot of viewers miss. GA is always about 50 percent awful and 50 percent awesome, and the awesome makes it well worth the ride.

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I'm a hardcore MerDer fan, but I can't help feel that most of season 6 was covered with fillers until Shonda could give the amazing finale. She writes the finales then builds the season towards it as a goal. I think if MerDer had more story lines and some more focus rather than love triangles or Arizona/Callie which are STILL in their own little world... it would of been a better season all around. @ tutu Meredith and Sadie "slept" around Europe before they went to med school. When Ellis became lucid for that short amount of time, she was telling Meredith that she said she didn't have to go to med school etc. Meredith said to her that she went to Europe 5 years ago and returned to go to med school and finished. Just a fun fact =).

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@JDC, I don't think it's highly unlikely that they made it legal and didn't say anything. I never bought the fact that Izzie and Alex were legally married given the fact that the marriage license should have come with MerDer's names on it, not Izzie and Alex's. POAs can be handled by lawyers and just signed off by MerDer. It wouldn't take that much time. Meredith may had time to do it while resting on her leave after her liver surgery. Also in the marriage you have to make wills and other legal documents. Signing the license doesn't assure you all of that since they are all independend documents. So legal or not, they still have to make these documents. I assume Derek must have a will already (he seems like the guy that has to have everything covered), so maybe he will update it now. I honestly think that neither Amelia or Mrs. Shepherd has any idea of the post it. I also hope not. I cannot take more mocking of the post it.

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If you work on it, the timeline isn't that hard to define and to see inconsistent. Seasons 1 through 3 were stated to be one year. The test at the end of S3 establishes as the end of their intern year. Seasons 4 and 5 is another year. S4 indicated the beginning of their resident year and in S5 premiere, Richard yelling at Meredith that they are halfway on their second year of residency. Season 6 is one year finishing in July. Richard said in the finale that he had been sober for six months now. Richard was outed by Derek in February. There were the holidays (V'Day being the last one). About the characters' ages, here's what I managed to find out from episode info. Mer - She was 4 in 1982. Since Ellis talked about the Anatomy Jane doll being for her birthday, she may have turned five soon. She should be 32/33 years old. George, Izzie, & Alex - When George's organs were given away, the doctor said he was 29. On the OR board the day of Izzie's surgery, it was stated that she was also 29. As of today, they should be 30. I assume Alex is also that age since not many details were mentioned of him. Lexie - She said she was 24 in season 5. That means she is 25 now. Mark, Addie, & Derek - Addie said at the end of S3 that she didn't want to be 39 and alone and assuming they all are the same age, so it would make all three of them 41. Meredith said she hadn't seen her father in 20 years, which can hold true since Richard said he had an affair 25 years ago, not that he ended the affair or that Ellis had divorced Thatcher, which would mean that the affair could've lasted 5 years prior ending it.

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@Judy:
The age discrepancies are most likely due to sloppy continuity by the writers especially with regards to what you said about Thatcher leaving 20 years before when Mer was apparently only 5. However, we can't assume that her education would put this character in her twenties when she began her internship. Not everybody is the same age in their intern year. Some people postpone their internship to take on other jobs after pre-med (Sadie, in a morgue), others do PHDs (Cristina), others take a year off to travel in Europe (Mer and Sadie)...you catch my drift. So Mer, Karev and Cris could have started Grey's in their late 20s or early 30s, Izzie and George in their mid-20s and it still would make sense. Has the series lost the plot and jumped the shark? Overall, I'd cautiously say no, or more accurately, not yet. I think they came close to tanking this season (with that horrible C.O.T triangle IMO) but they did have some really well-written episodes here and there and that, coupled with a great cast including the guest stars and a great finale, managed - just barely - to salvage the season. I thought Shonda did a stellar job with the season finale in terms of boosting ratings with intense drama but she did poorly on resolution of the most season's storylines (note that I'm not saying the stories must all be resolved by season's end) and I believe this was because the writing was more inconsistent than usual this season. Having too many writers on one show can also be an impediment to character development. My take on this season's storylines? 1. The sheer stupidity of the aforementioned C.O.T love triangle is self-explanatory given the premise set in season 5. 2. Callie-Arizona reconciliation in the season finale was too rushed given how huge an issue having a child, let alone 10, was to them in previous episodes. Besides which doctors do you know of that would continue a lover's quarrel while child cries out in severe pain from a ruptured appendix in front of them? And before you say, oh the intern hadn't done the scan yet, let me counter that by saying that if the admitting diagnosis is appendicitis and the patient decompensates, a good doctor immediately suspect rupture of the appendix and start treatment while seeking to confirm this new diagnosis with a portable scan. Yep, that scene did not endear me to this couple. 3. The Lexie-Alex-Mark triangle I thought was reasonably handled in the finale given the arc of their storylines this season. I also think Chief Webber was particularly well-written all season long, beginning to end. 4. Bailey. A half-hearted attempt to give her some action this season with Ben. The whole thing has probably fizzled out which is a shame because I believe Bailey and Cristina are like twins in the romance department - they both "have no room for casual anything". The way these characters are written, I expect them to only have great loves, no flings. 5. I wish the idea of Teddy had never existed and I am not happy at all to have to watch her next season. It will take some really stellar writing (hopefully storylines that will take her far, far away from Owen and Cris) to make me warm up to this character. 6. Mer and Shephard. Secondary storylines all season long until the finale. I thought they were probably the most consistently written characters this season after Chief (always) Webber. This may be because the writers have the most experience with them. 7. The Mercy Westers I thought were developed appropriately throughout the season because Shonda already had a plan for who would stay and who would leave by season's end. Not enough to invest me in any one of them but hey, maybe that was the plan all along. And I must be the only one who does not see Avery with Cristina - he seems to be a player and she mates for life. It would never work. I'm still a hardcore GA fan so in season 7, I'm there.

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@ JDC I agree with all of your comments except for the time line. I read in an interview with Shonda Rhimes (can't remember where exactly) that the first season was two months. The second season about six months and the third season about four months. I remember Mark's comment and it doesn't seem consistent with the time line. Also when Meredith did not write down her answers the other four made comments that she couldn't repeat her intern year. When George failed his intern exam he had to repeat his intern year until he retook the exam. I think it poor consistently by the writers. In season two and three there were several comments that Meredith's father left home twenty years before when she was five years old which would put her age at twenty-five when Grey's Anatomy started. (I have read comments by other fans which have put her age older however) To have the education she has however I would put her age to have been 26 or 27 when Greys started. Lexie would have to be at least six years younger. But she is 24 in Season 5. Another inconsistency. On the legality of Meredith and Derek's union it is just my opinion. I hope they are a legal couple. It has been months so it is possible that they went to an attorney but then again maybe not.

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@ Judy I think you're probably right about season 4-5 as Lexi went through her internship until resident status. You are right about an internship being the first year of residency out of med school. However, how do you explain the time line in referral to the dialogue in some episodes? Such as the example I gave in season 2 in my earlier post. Also, Meredith has said in season 6 that she was emotionally unstable "3 years ago". Does this refer to her at the start of Grey's or at the end of season 4 when she became "whole and healed". There are simple examples such as these that makes me question the time line. Is it poor consistency by the writers? I doubt that as they already invest so much time into getting expert advice in the medical field. You would think they could maintain their time line. I'm also not too sure that Derek and Meredith are a legal couple. The whole reason they didn't go to city hall that episodes was because they didn't have time. So they have time to do wills, power of attorney, etc.? It is possible and I actually hope they are a legal couple in regards to the rumored Amelia and Carolyn doing a cross-over. I just find it unlikely.

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I just love Grey's Anatomy period ..

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@JDC, Grey's Anatomy's timeline is not one year per season. Seasons 1 through 3 were 1 year and seasons 4 and 5 were 1 year. Season 6 was the only season that took 1 year. During seasons 1-3 the Fab 5 were interns. A internship is one year. In the fourth and fifth year, there were several comments about the original five being in their second year. Also, not to be directed at JDC, but Derek and Meredith are most likely a legal couple. As in, they are legally tied to each other. They probably have set up wills, trusts, and given each other power of attorney, essentially giving the same rights a married couple has to the respective partner. The show runners probably chose not to address this on the actual show, due to the complexities of it all. It would simply be trivial at this point.