Grey’s Anatomy will be taken on the coronavirus pandemic when it begins filming for Season 17. Entertainment Weekly learned of the plans from executive producer Krista Vernoff, who said that “we’re going to address the pandemic.” Vernoff also said it would be impossible to be one of the longest-running medical dramas and not tackle the “medical story of our lifetimes.”
Vernoff revealed the news as part of a panel participating in the Quaranstreaming: Comfort TV That Keeps Us Going, which will air fully on Tuesday night at Emmys.com. To fully document a storyline about COVID-19, Vernoff said that real-life doctors would be meeting with producers to share their experiences. This tactic isn’t unlike their usual proceedings, though, Vernoff said they are frequently meeting with doctors to hone in on portraying storylines as accurately as possible. In this case, though, Vernoff admits it has felt a little different because of how impactful the pandemic has been on the doctors.
The difference, Vernoff said, comes from the doctors having not previously shared what they have gone through, so when they come to talk to producers, it’s as if it’s a therapy session, “They are literally shaking and trying not to cry, they’re pale, and they’re talking about it as war.” Vernoff feels it’s the show’s “responsibility” to shine a light on the reality of what is going on in the frontlines and turning what she calls “really painful” experiences from doctors into storylines for Season 17.
Like the rest of Hollywood, Grey’s Anatomy is waiting patiently to resume production amid the coronavirus pandemic. The show had to abruptly halt its 16th season as the outbreak forced it to shutdown and postpone the remainder of the season. Four more scheduled episodes were remaining in the season. It is unknown what their plans for those episodes are at this point. Vernoff noted that while the show has no return date set, the writers have been working hard on storylines and finding the best way to incorporate the usual romance and timely humor while covering such a heavy subject.
Back in March, Grey’s Anatomy donated medical supplies that they had on set to assist with frontline workers fighting the coronavirus. This action came in the early stages when many hospitals in the northeast were running out of limited supplies. Along with Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19 helped to donate N95 masks that were on its set.