‘Grey’s Anatomy’ star Caterina Scorsone on the big theme show should be up next

The cast and crew of Grey's Anatomy attend PaleyFest LA 2023 on April 2, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo: Brian To for the Paley Center)

cast and crew of Grey’s anatomy attends PaleyFest LA 2023 on April 2, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo: Brian To for the Paley Center)

As Grey’s anatomy continues to make television history, the stars of the hit medical drama celebrated the show’s success at the PaleyFest over the weekend. ABC officially renewed the series for a 20th season this year, despite the departure of Ellen Pompeo, continuing its reign as the longest-running prime-time medical drama always. The show’s relevance over the past two decades is a triumph, cast and crew say, partly because no subject is off-limits and storytelling is its secret ingredient.

“I think every storyline that we’ve taken on, the writers … they know how to approach all the issues in a very holistic way, if that makes sense. It’s not from a one-sided point of view,” Kevin McKidd, who made his 2008 debut as Dr. Owen Hunt told Yahoo Entertainment.

Grays has always been at the forefront of putting issues at the center of cultural debates. Specifically for McKidd’s character, gender identity has been explored over the past year with Teddy (Kim Raver) and Owen’s child Leo. Season 19 heavily emphasized stories surrounding women’s rights and reproductive rights.

“All of these issues in our society today are conversational, at least that’s how they should be, and I think that’s what our show does. “Everything in the world is so polarized. I think that’s why we’re doing this, we’re dealing with all these issues really well. We’re really passionate and impartial about it. We all have to solve these problems as a society.”

The series has championed diversity in front of and behind the camera. In 2021, non-binary actor ER Fightmaster took on the role of neuroscientist Dr. Kai Bartley, the show’s first non-binary doctor of its 18-year season, who became a romantic interest for Caterina Scorsone’s Amelia Shepherd. Scorsone says it’s a plot point she’s incredibly “passionate about” right now.

“One of the issues used to polarize the left and the right was trans issues and LGBTQ issues,” explains Scorsone. “We actually saw a non-binary person have a beautiful relationship and be a brilliant doctor and wonderful friend. I think being in people’s living rooms and showing the depth and reality of LGBTQ people and trans people hopefully helps a lot of people who don’t have access to information realize that this is an important and vital community and we need to support them like we support any other marginalized group.”

Actor Jake Borelli, whose character Levi Schmitt was first introduced to fans in 2014, both actor and viewer appreciates the “diverse cast” and “incredible” storylines.

“I feel like anyone who watches the show can find someone to relate to,” he says of the show’s 20-year success. “I know that as a viewer, it was great for me to see queer storylines being told at this level.”

Showrunner Krista Vernoff says there’s no problem Grays afraid to tackle.

“I think one of the problems in society right now is that so many of our conversations aren’t face-to-face, they’re online. We’re polarized to the idea that on any subject, things are black and white and… it’s nuanced,” explains Vernoff. “There’s a gray area and Grey’s anatomy is a wonderful place where we can explore conversations while storytelling, the nuances of those topics.”

Vernoff will step down as executive producer and showrunner at the end of the season, but she says she’s most proud of “what we’ve done with reproductive rights this year.”

“It felt very important to examine these stories through the lens of doctors and medicine and the implications for women’s health. Just as we haven’t ignored COVID and the impact it is having on doctors, the impact of [Roe’s reversal in 2022] can’t be overstated, so we spent a lot of time researching it,” she notes.

Even if it seems so Gray‘s tackled everything, think again. Scorsone believes the show can do more to address ableism.

“I’m thrilled that Amelia, Meredith and Kai have worked on Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. These are problems that have not yet been solved [medical] community. There are so many demographics affected by Alzheimer’s — older people and many people in the Down Syndrome community,” she shares. “I’d love to have more conversations about disabilities on the show. It’s an area where we could probably have more presence.”

McKidd adds, “I still think it would be interesting to discuss things that are taboo. We haven’t touched on it, I find it amazing what has happened with the #MeToo movement and there are many people of all genders – men have been abused in relationships. I think that would be an interesting story to tell, I’m not sure we really looked into that.

Grey’s anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.


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