After the trauma that was the Grey’s Anatomy season 11 finale, fans can thankfully expect a little respite. Showrunner Shonda Rhimes has opened up about her plans for the new series – and it sounds as though life is going to be a little happier for Meredith, Callie and co in the future.
Season 11 saw Grey’s Anatomy say farewell to one of its main characters, Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) in a shock twist at the end of the season. Fans have since petitioned Rhimes in their thousands and threatened to boycott the show all together. But if they can bring themselves to tune in, they’ll find Grey Sloane Memorial Hospital a lighter, funnier place.
“Our characters have suffered enough,” Rhimes revealed. “I wanted to get back to the earlier seasons in which, as I like to say, we’re leaving the serious pain to the patients.”
“We had a table read last week in which I have never heard the entire room laugh that much — I want to say since season one — the entire room was laughing and everybody broke into applause when we were done reading,” Rhimes told The Hollywood Reporter. “It was a nice feeling to be so light again but in a way that didn’t feel like we were trying so hard; it felt natural.”
“Meredith being a widow, surprisingly, should be funny in some ways. She’s been a woman who has been off the market forever and that humor of ‘I’m dead inside, I’m not interested in men,’ should be funny in a way. She should have some darker humor in that feeling.”
There will be “big changes,” added Ellen Pompeo, who plays Meredith. “It feels a lot different.”
There will be another time jump – three months, which will see April returning to the hospital – and we’ll catch up with Meredith living in her mother’s old house with Maggie and Amelia, her new family unit.
“It was a depressing, dark, sad season. Inevitably, we’d have to get lighter this season,” said Caterina Scorsone, aka Amelia,. “All of the characters are experiencing a redefinition and a renaissance and I feel like the show is, too. After going so dark, we’re finding the humor. It’s like when you have to laugh hysterically at a funeral — it couldn’t get any sadder. The laughter had to come — and it has. There’s a lot of levity on the set.”
There might be laughter, but dedicated McDreamy fans will be pleased to hear that love won’t be Meredith’s focus going forward either. “I keep seeing these things saying that we’re replacing McDreamy and Patrick is irreplaceable, that’s not really the point,” says Rhimes. “Meredith is on a journey. She’s always been on a journey and I’m taking her on where the journey leads her and we’ll see what that feels like.”
Grey’s Anatomy season 12 premieres on ABC next month