“Grey’s Anatomy” captures the reality of the pandemic in its new season

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The 17th season of “Grey’s Anatomy” is centered around the COVID-19 pandemic. It also tackles the topics of mental health, racism and human trafficking.

Lilli Libowitz, Reporter

With only six episodes so far, “Grey’s Anatomy” is arguably one of the most COVID-19 centric series nowadays. The 17th season of ABC’s longtime medical series is vastly different from previous seasons as Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital becomes a COVID-19 center. This compelling season is not one to miss; despite the focus on the global health crisis, the show still includes dramatic love triangles, sweet moments and the return of familiar faces. 

The season begins with Dr. Meredith Grey, played by Ellen Pompeo, and other doctors working tirelessly at Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital to contain the deadly pandemic. The doctors are clearly exhausted and dealing with a lack of normalcy, yet they still maintain a somewhat positive demeanor. 

Grey quickly gets very ill with COVID-19 and begins a constant cycle of falling in and out of consciousness. This sets the stage for the upcoming feelings and hard work of the doctors while also showing the severity of the disease.

Living in a COVID-19 centered world, a show revolving solely around the pandemic can feel a bit too close to reality. This past year has brought many losses, so having to relive them during the series can feel stressful and difficult. 

Along with tackling the more typical issues regarding healthcare workers during COVID-19, Grey’s Anatomy tackles the themes of mental illness, racism and sex trafficking. An example is Dr. Andrew DeLuca, played by Giacomo Gianniotti, who is struggling with bipolar disorder and refusing treatment. 

The show also explores the issue of racial inequalities in the transmission of COVID-19. The series illuminates the higher mortality rate of African Americans in the pandemic by highlighting all the lives lost, rather than merely statistics.

I enjoyed many aspects of the season, particularly the great attention to accuracy. The sets, equipment and new medical technology are so similar to what hospitals look like nowadays with COVID-19 regulations, making the situation feel even more real. 

Although season 17 of “Grey’s Anatomy” is timely, there are parts where it struggles. In our COVID-19 centered world, a show that almost solely focused on the virus and the aftermath can get dull. Though it picks up after the first few episodes, I think “Grey’s Anatomy” should have dived into other subjects more. This includes DeLuca’s struggle with bipolar disorder. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, production on the show started late, and they were only able to fit in six episodes before the winter hiatus. The cliffhanger ending to the sixth episode hooked me in and made me want to continue watching, even as the next episode is projected to be aired mid-March. 

I highly recommend this show even if you have not seen the 16 seasons before this one. Although it is centered around COVID-19 and far from an escape, it shows the horrors of what is going on around us in a real way with seemingly relatable characters. Though the season is intense to watch, it is definitely worth it.