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Now in its fifteenth season and already renewed for a sixteenth, "Grey's Anatomy" has been credited with changing the face of primetime drama on U.S. TV. The ABC-produced show is credited with launching Shonda Rhimes onto the mainstream public after the show she created became one of the most successful on TV since it was launched back in 2005. The show has served as the launchpad for a number of stars who have played a part in the ensemble cast which has had a number of changes over the course of its more than one-decade long run.
"Grey's Anatomy" is set in the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital in Seattle, Washington where a group of interns began their path towards becoming qualified surgeons in episode one. The medical drama focuses largely on the titular character of Dr. Meredith Grey and the staff at the hospital she works with each day. Meredith Grey and her fellow interns were the initial focus for the writers of the show with the personal lives of the medical professionals taking as much screen time as their time spent in the hospital. There are many twists and turns in the plot, not least the burgeoning relationship between Meredith Grey and the head of neurosurgery, Derek Shepherd. The ex-wife of Shepherd is a fellow surgeon who is distrustful of Grey and the fact she is the daughter of the respected deceased surgeon, Dr. Ellis Grey.
Alongside the story of Dr. Meredith Grey, the ploy has expanded to include the personal and working lives of the consistently changing staff of what is now known as the Seattle Grace Sloan Hospital. "Grey's Anatomy" began with nine members of the main cast with much of the early plotlines revolving around the close friendship developed between Grey and fellow future surgeon, Christina Yang. Other members of the resident program at the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital included Dr. Izzie Stephens, Dr. Alex Karev, and Dr. George O'Malley.
Through the early seasons of "Grey's Anatomy", much of the drama was also found in the paternal relationship between Meredith and the Head of General Surgery, Dr. Richard Webber. As the season's progress, the relationship between Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd becomes the focus with the couple facing the stigma of their various roles in the hospital counting against them. Over the course of the first four seasons, various members of the original cast have season-spanning storylines which drive their story arc's and result in some shocking departures from one of the most successful shows of the 21st-century. As one would expect from a show which has spanned more than a decade, there have been various departures from the show and new characters arriving to take their place. The one constant throughout the 15 seasons to date has been Dr. Meredith Grey and her quest to juggle her personal life and time-consuming career as her life changes for better and worse over the lifespan of the show. Each season of the show is linked to a single year in the lives of the surgeons as they move through the resident program at the hospital.
"Grey's Anatomy" is closely associated with its showrunner and executive producer, Shonda Rhimes who shot to fame on the back of the success of the show. Rhimes had worked on feature films for Disney before shifting her focus back to television where she created and wrote the pilot for "Grey's Anatomy". Originally, "Grey's Anatomy" was not seen as a possible success for Rhimes and was originally aired as a mid-season replacement for ABC.
The cast has included many notable actors over the 15 seasons to date, including lead actor Ellen Pompeo who had been working consistently on TV and film before finding global fame as Dr. Mereedith Grey. The initial cast also included major stars Patrick Dempsey and Kate Walsh who would later receive her own spinoff show, "Private Practice." "Grey's Anatomy" would launch the careers of many young actors, including Katherine Heigl who played the role of Dr. Izzis Stevens during the early seasons of the show.
Despite the location of "Grey's Anatomy" is the city of Seattle in the Pacific Northwest, the show is filmed with a one-camera setup in Los Angeles by a partnership between the ShondaLand production company, ABC, and The Mark Gordon Company. The position of showrunner has been taken by a number of different producers over the course of the 15 seasons it has run for with Shonda Rhimes remaining a major influence despite working on a number of other shows too. As with most long-running TV drama's, each episode is directed from a pool of directors including Tom Verica, who went on to appear in the Shonda Rhimes-produced "How to get away with Murder."
Undoubtedly, "Grey's Anatomy" has been a genre-defining production in the medical drama sector with many other dramas following its blueprint. A major success for ABC, the medical drama has been broadcast around the world to critical acclaim, particularly in its early seasons. The success of the show around the world with it syndicated to more than 200 territories and remains the top-rated show for ABC. For fans of medical drama's, "Grey's Anatomy" is a must-see and offers a similar approach to the genre as the other U.S. shows such as "The Good Doctor." For viewers looking to make a long-term commitment to a show, "Grey's Anatomy" is a good choice with 335 episodes produced over its first 15 seasons and season 16 already given the green light by ABC.
Prior to the release of "Grey's Anatomy" as a mid-season replacement in March 2005, the show was given little chance of survival with ABC changing the name of the medical drama to "Complications" for a few days while in production. Although it has now surpassed "ER" as the longest-running medical drama in U.S. TV history, "Grey's Anatomy" was originally going to be located in Chicago but comparisons with its esteemed predecessor changed the mind of creator Shonda Rhimes. To create realistic surgery scenes in the operating rooms of the hospital, cow organs are used to create a realistic look for the show. Cast members report the soldering iron used is real and creates a foul stench when used by the cast on real bovine organs.