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Has ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ jumped the shark with season 18?

Over the years, television’s longest-running medical drama has told a lot of stories. We’ve lost many beloved characters, ruined some others, elevated some, and promoted many. But not even the best writers’ room can get it right all the time. For example, when writers decided to kill Derek Shepherd off the show, it felt like the whole show had come to a standstill. 

The producers’ feeble attempts at reviving the spice in Meredith’s life seemed too desperate or too grief-laden. The former was reflected in Meredith’s flirtatious interactions with Nick Marsh, a transplant surgeon who she met as her patient. The latter was Nathan Riggs, with who she got together over their shared grief of losing their respective loved ones. 

It had all felt too hasty to put her in relationships when she was still grieving the loss of the love of her life. Now, with its season 18 underway, it feels befitting to reflect on whether it’s jumping the shark?

Too soon or too late?

Ellen Pompeo, who has been playing the iconic Meredith Grey for almost two decades, has previously hinted at the possibility of ending the show, “Yes. It’s, what story do we tell? To end a show this iconic, you know, how do we do it? I just want to make sure we do this character and this show and the fans – I want to make sure we do it right.”

She also hinted that she may not want to keep pursuing her acting career once Grey’s Anatomy comes to an end. It makes sense for her: after playing the same character for two decades, it can be hard to come out of this box. But this also means that she’s looking at the commercial angles. She is milking it as long as she can, as long as the audience shows up for it, and as long as writers have stories in them. 

The audiences, it seems, are very much showing up for the drama. 

The numbers tell a story

Over the years, the show has seen a lot of ups & downs in its viewership, but as season 18 opened, it ranked first on the network’s list among viewers in the 18-49 age bracket. Having said that, it was reported to have drawn the smallest premiere viewership ever. No other season premiere had such low numbers. Well, 4.77 million viewers is a low number of a show of this legacy. 

Even its 2020 debut was 5.93 million viewers with a 1.3 rating. While that may have something to do with the overall consumption levels at a time when everyone was quarantined, the fall in absolute viewership numbers could be hinting towards a larger fall in interest. 

What do we know about season 18?

Like last season, we will be seeing a lot of characters return to the screen. We’ll also see new characters introduced, adding freshness as well as complexities to the drama that unfolds in the aftermath of the pandemic. The medical field & our healthcare systems are not the same after going through the storm of COVID-19, so there are many challenging storylines in the making. 

We’ve also already seen that Abigail Spencer, Scott Speedman, and Kate Walsh will be reprising their roles. Everyone’s especially excited about Walsh’s return as Addison Montgomery, who had different, but strong equations with both Meredith as well as Amelia. Of course, we’ve never seen the ex-sisters-in-law interact outside of Private Practice

Meanwhile, Meredith & Hayes couldn’t work it out due to Hayes’ kid’s discomfort with him dating. So she now has eyes for Nick Marsh, who she first met in season 14, when it was too soon to jump into anything after Derek. We’re yet to see where that relationship heads. 

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