This season, you’re also showrunning spinoff Station 19, with the two series having a greater connection — including a romantic storyline. What are you looking to accomplish with Station 19? Will there be cast departures? What sort of changes can viewers expect?
That’s seven questions and many of them I cannot answer! (Laughs.) What I can say is I’ve never had so much fun in my career. The opportunity to merge these two worlds or further expand the Grey’s Anatomy universe to include the fire station, which is down the street — it’s exciting creatively. The writers’ rooms are right next door to each other. The writers constantly interact with each other. I’ve got one writer — Kiley Donovan — who is doing both shows. There is an inter-show romance, which I am very excited by and which I think will be surprising. It’s exciting and it’s fresh. We’ve still got Ben (Jason George) and Bailey (Chandra Wilson) interacting between the two shows. And we’ve got first responders and doctors. By its very nature, that is a cohesive world. The first responders are the first step to the medicine. We are trying to lean a little harder into the idea that we can expand the world of Grey’s Anatomy by expanding our understanding of how many highly trained hands a person has to move through to go from trauma and crisis to post-op.
Will there be tonal shifts on Station 19? What’s working that you’re leaning into, what didn’t work that you’re doing less of?
What I have discovered in diving into the world of first responders is how simultaneously high stakes everything those heroes do every day is. Everything they do is at a Level 11. They stay incredibly calm in the face of what you and I would be completely traumatized in a moment-to-moment basis. It reminds me of Grey’s Anatomy in the early years: The conversation was surgeons are basically like auto mechanics. You want to believe that they’re reverent in the OR but they do this all day, every day. So, they’re talking about their love lives while they’re operating on your heart and that is going to be a shocking thing for America to see. There are similarities in that these first responders are facing massive trauma. If you’re meeting first responders, it’s probably the worst day of your life. They are incredible and professional and then they go out and it was, for the most part, another day at the office. They may be occasionally traumatized by a loss but, for the most part, it was another day at the office. And I am fascinated by that. We’re playing a lot of really high-stakes stuff on Station 19 this year. It was a great show, it’s now I think going to be a great show. It’s going to be slightly different by the nature of the change in the showrunner.
Is there a central theme you’re exploring on Station 19?
One of the themes we’re working with at Station 19 is what makes a hero. We are working with a little bit of an occasional flashback motif where we take a look at what made these people want to run into fire for a living.