The long-running ABC medical drama Grey’s Anatomy trudged into its 15th season earlier in September — although why patients keep coming to Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital after a number of high-profile disasters boggles the mind. The most recent episode introduced yet another new love interest for protagonist Meredith Grey, played by Ellen Pompeo.
News that How I Met Your Mother actor Josh Radnor had been cast on Grey’s broke Wednesday, and the internet’s reaction was mostly “What?” and “Why?” Radnor made his debut on Thursday’s episode as John, Meredith’s semi-successful blind date. The date started off fine but ended on a sour note when John complained to Meredith about women with kids — not realizing she has three of her own — so it’s not clear whether Radnor will return.
Pompeo apparently told Entertainment Weekly her character is going to go on a bunch of dates throughout season 15. One of the central plot points seems to be she’s lonely and needs to open her heart to love — at least according to her patient Cece (Caroline Clay), a professional matchmaker who’s hanging around Grey Sloan dispensing sage advice as she waits for a kidney. Cece seems to think Meredith is closed off to the possibility of a new relationship. Could we please, for a second, entertain the idea that Meredith Grey might want to be single for a while?
Let’s examine the facts: Meredith is not only a surgeon with an extremely demanding career, she’s the hospital’s chief of general surgery and a single mom of three young kids. (Side note: Where are her kids? Who watches baby Ellis all day? Zola must go to school, right? Who does drop-off and pick-up? Does Meredith have some hidden domestic help and if so, can we meet them, please?) Plus, she’s only a few years out from the dramatic death of her husband, Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), aka McDreamy.
Meredith’s relationship with Derek was a central driver of the series for years — and it made sense. There was the excitement of a work romance, the forbidden and slightly problematic power dynamic created by his position as an attending surgeon and her initial role as an intern and, of course, his luscious hair. Over the seasons, they got together, had a couple kids, survived a deadly plane crash — you know, normal couple stuff.
But Meredith was left widowed when Derek was killed off in a brutal car accident in season 11. An indeterminate number of years have passed since then; a major time jump after Derek’s death muddied the waters, but it’s probably been a couple years, at least, in the world of the show.
Since then, Grey’s Anatomy has already tried — and failed — to introduce a new love interest for Meredith: Nathan Riggs, played by Martin Henderson, who had a brief, boring relationship with Meredith before being written off the show when his ex who had been presumed dead, suddenly returned.
It turns out that back when Henderson first joined the series, even Pompeo wondered why Meredith needed a new love interest after Derek’s death.
“The truth is, the ink wasn’t even dry on [Dempsey’s] exit papers before they rushed in a new guy,” she told the Hollywood Reporter in a revealing interview in January.
“I was on vacation in Sicily, decompressing — it was a long working relationship and it was a tumultuous end and I needed a moment to just chill with some rosé — and they’re calling me, going, ‘What do you think of this guy?’ ‘What do you think of this guy?’ And they’re sending pictures. I was like, ‘Are you people fucking nuts? Why do you feel that you have to replace this person?’ I couldn’t believe how fast the studio and the network felt like they had to get a penis in there. We brought in Martin Henderson, but they didn’t love the storyline, so that ended.”
Apparently, though, the arbiters of Meredith’s life have learned nothing from her last failed relationship — and, by all accounts, are rushing to bring in even more love interests for the show’s namesake hero.
But would it really be so unbelievable for a high-achieving surgeon and mother of three to actually be fulfilled in her life without a romantic partner? Could the show give us a couple seasons where Meredith doesn’t spend her downtime having romantic dilemmas and instead hangs out with her friends and her kids and, in Pompeo’s words, gets to “chill with some rosé?” That’s the Meredith Grey the world deserves.