“It’s kind of bigger than we can wrap our heads around,” admits “Grey’s Anatomy” showrunner and executive producer Krista Vernoff about making TV history earlier this season by surpassing “ER’s” record as the longest-running medical drama ever. Gold Derby recently sat down with Vernoff and co-executive producer/writer Elisabeth R. Finch to discuss this milestone accomplishment as well as the show’s powerful consent episode, titled “Silent All These Years,” that some fans are calling one of the best in 15 seasons. Watch our exclusive video interview with Vernoff and Finch above.
Vernoff continues, “We all watched ‘ER’ growing up and I think ‘ER’ is one of the big influencers of all of us as writers and of this show. We’re really blown away. We’re proud. We’re grateful. The idea of making history is insane.” When we ask if “Grey’s” may one day surpass “Law & Order,” which aired for 20 seasons, Vernoff laughs, “In any good 12-step program you go one day at a time. We’re going one episode at a time and we’re grateful and we’re gonna do the best work we can.”
As for the creative process behind Finch’s episode that dealt with the aftermath of a woman (Khalilah Joi) being sexual assaulted, she reveals that the idea came to her three years ago when the writers guild sent a group to tour the rape treatment center at UCLA. “I went thinking at some point I might come up with an idea for it,” Finch details. “There were a couple moments that stuck in my brain that I couldn’t shake and let go,” and then the Brett Kavanaugh hearings reinforced the idea of “wanting to talk about consent and have those conversations. It just seemed like the perfect time to put it all together.”
The episode’s traumatic hospital moments were intercut with scenes between Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington) meeting her biological mother (Michelle Forbes) for the first time and discovering that she was the result of rape. Finch explains, “What was interesting to me was trying to pair up a scenario where one woman had nothing and no support and no one she felt she could tell her truth to, juxtaposed with a current story that was walking through our hospital where she had everything she needed, where she had all of the support she could possibly have.”
“Isn’t that amazing to think about?” Vernoff remarks at how television had never before depicted a rape kit being administered. “How many times have you seen rape on television? A lot of times. How have we never seen the impact of rape in this way? I think the reason we’ve never shown it is because culturally we focus on the male experience … but the woman who’s impacted and what she goes through in the wake of it is a thing we don’t see on television and that I think is the thing I’m most proud of.”
Also in our in-depth interview, Vernoff and Finch talk about the final episodes of Season 15, how Jo and Alex (Justin Chambers) will continue being affected by this storyline, the brief return of Meredith’s (Ellen Pompeo) father Thatcher (Jeff Perry), and what it would mean for Emmy voters to take notice of such a powerful and female-driven episode.
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