The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The lasting legacy of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ in its 20th season

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ began its 20th season on March 14, 2024. For 19 years, the show has engaged audiences in the love lives and drama of Seattle Grace’s finest doctors, creating a large cultural impact.
Isabella Tisdale
Chandler Brown, a graduate student, poses for a portrait on Sunday, March 24, 2024. Brown was inspired by Grey’s Anatomy to pursue medicine.

It’s March 27, 2005. A fresh, new medical drama has just premiered on ABC capturing the attention of viewers across the country. Suddenly, people find themselves invested in the dark and twisted love lives of Seattle Grace Hospital’s finest doctors for weekly installments of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

The show’s allure did not fade. As the years went on, the drama’s popularity only grew, until it seemed that everyone had at least heard of some of the show’s many memorable one-liners, even if they had never actually watched an episode.

Today, “Grey’s Anatomy” is widely known as a cultural phenomenon with an entire generation of fans who grew up watching the show. Its 20th season premiered on March 14.

“The fan base grew quickly at the beginning, and it continues to bring in new generations,” University of Iowa first-year student Sammi Lewis said. “Adding the new interns every couple of years is helpful because then you get a new batch of people. And it adds new love interests, which is crucial to the show.”

Lewis also said the show tries to keep up with the times as over the years it expanded the cast by adding more diverse characters and storylines.

“Season 20 is very reminiscent of early Grey’s in terms of what is going on. That, to me, does make it hold up,” UI first-year student Liberty Smith said.

Smith began watching the show alongside her mom at 12 years old. She has seen almost every episode since the show’s fifth season, including season 20’s first episode.

She cites the show’s soap opera qualities as being both entertaining and relatable, remarking that the writers understand how to create compelling relationships and
exciting cliffhangers.

Because the show being classified as a medical drama and centering around surgeons, it has given some — extremely dramatized — insight into what being a doctor could be like.

“I think, especially for young adults watching this show, it shows them what it might be like to go into the medical field of study,” UI first-year student Emily Broderick said. “My sister is now in nursing school. I don’t think she was directly influenced by the show, but she enjoyed watching it.”

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For some viewers , “Grey’s Anatomy” was a contributing factor in the decision to pursue a career in the medical field. This was true of third-year UI medical student Chandler Brown, who is planning to pursue emergency medicine after graduation.

While Brown was not solely influenced by the show, it certainly helped motivate his decision to go into medicine. As a resident assistant at Central Michigan University, Brown frequently entertained himself during his night rounds by watching episodes of  “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“I was between doing physical therapy or being a nurse practitioner, versus becoming a doctor,” Brown said, “There are episodes and seasons that I distinctly remember — such as when Dr. Torres gave someone the ability to walk again. I remember thinking, ‘That could be me one day.’”

Brown enjoys the show for its character development and likes how it shows an aspect of practicing medicine that is not always seen elsewhere. In particular, the show portrays how doctors spend long hours with their intern group, as well as the friendships that help the characters get through the harder days in the field.

“One of my favorite things on the show is the relationships the doctors get to make with the patients on the show,” Brown said, “Relationships are something I value as a medical student, and as a human on Earth. Shonda Rhimes does a really good job writing them.”

He also believes that television series, especially dramas like “Grey’s Anatomy,” are better when they are written as fiction rather than nonfiction.

“I find it funny that the doctors do absolutely everything in the hospital and only have like three patients. In actuality, the surgical team would have over thirty patients and the interactions they had with them would take less time,” Brown said. “But that wouldn’t make a good show.”

While Brown believes that “Grey’s Anatomy” has changed a lot over the years, he also thinks there is still merit in keeping it around.

“If you think of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ as the hospital, the show could go on forever. I think the legacy of the hospital goes on,” Brown said. “The same thing happens here at the Carver College of Medicine — it will continue after my class graduates. To this day, the show gives me hope and re-inspires me every time I watch an episode.”

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About the Contributors
Riley Dunn
Riley Dunn, Arts Reporter
Riley Dunn is a first-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in English and Creative Writing and Journalism and Mass Communications. Prior to her time at the DI, Riley interned for Swimming World Magazine.
Isabella Tisdale
Isabella Tisdale, Photojournalist
Isabella Tisdale is a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan and is a senior at West High school. In her free time, she stage manages for the theater program at West High. She plans to double major in political science and journalism.