On Thursday, September 28, beloved medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” had its long-awaited two-hour season premiere. Now entering its fourteenth season, creator Shonda Rhimes is attempting to bring the show back to what original fans know and love: a funny, sexy drama that simultaneously keeps you laughing and on the edge of your seat. “‘Grey’s’ is going to be a lot more fun. We’re doing a lighter, funnier, more love-filled season,” Rhimes revealed while appearing on “Live! With Kelly and Ryan” on September 18. And based on the premiere, it appears she intends to keep that promise.
“Lighter” and “funnier” are not words that most viewers would associate with the past few seasons of “Grey’s.” Main character Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) has been put through so much trauma that it seems as though nothing will kill her, and after a while the shock factor wears off. There is only so much one woman, or even one hospital, can take, and as an audience there is only so much we will put up with. Viewers are not likely to forget the time she held a live bomb inside a patient’s chest cavity to keep it from detonating back in Season 2, or the time she watched her husband get shot in the chest by a grieving, vengeful widow in the fan-favorite episode from Season 6. But as the seasons continued the delicate balance of humor and tragedy seemed to be thrown off. Meredith’s trauma continued, but this time we expected it, and stopped caring as much when she was in danger.
After the Season 13 finale, it certainly seemed like “Grey’s” was going to continue with this trend. Season 14 picks up right in the aftermath of the explosion of part of the hospital and the realization that a character thought to be dead is actually alive, having been held hostage for 10 years in an unspecified rebel neighborhood. Frankly, it’s just as ridiculous and unbelievable as the show has been in the past, but the episode has an undercurrent of energy that seems to have been lacking.
This energy could have come from several places. Newcomer to the show Abigail Spencer plays the aforementioned hostage, sister to main character Dr. Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd). Her performance as Megan is simultaneously heartbreaking and hilarious as we learn that she is desperate to get back to the place she has just escaped to take care of the child she adopted ten years ago, a Syrian refugee. Constantly cracking jokes and teasing her older brother, we quickly realize that humor is the only way she is holding it together, and it seems to be holding the show together as well. What should be an incredibly sobering episode is littered throughout with comedic moments, from Dr. Andrew Deluca (Giacomo Gianniotti) walking in on his sister, newcomer Stefania Spampinato, with his roommate, to a clueless med student dropping his eyeglasses into an open chest cavity. It’s fun, it’s unbelievable, and keeps the episode from getting too dark. Fan favorite Kim Raver also returns to the show as Dr. Teddy Altman after exiting in Season 8, effectively reminding the audience of the “golden years” of “Grey’s.”
“Grey’s Anatomy” airs on Thursday nights at 8 p.m., and Seasons 1-13 are now streaming on Netflix.