This article contains spoilers for the first 15 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy
Last Thursday, the 16th season of ABC’s hit medical drama Grey’s Anatomy premiered. I’ve been watching this show, which started when I was four years old, for the past four years now, and the only reason I’d ever stop watching is if it ends. Unlike a lot of people on the internet, I have absolutely loved the last few seasons of Grey’s. Yes, I was sad about Cristina (Sandra Oh) leaving. Yes, I was sad when Derek (Patrick Dempsey) died. But these two events only helped Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) transform and become the badass human being she is now. Instead of being in Derek and Cristina’s shadow, she has a place to shine and lead the show to even further heights.
For the first 10 seasons, Cristina was by far my favorite character. She was brilliant, driven, and brutally honest. Even more, she and Meredith had one of the best friendships on TV. They relied on each other, they were each other’s person, but Cristina was still the better surgeon. She started pushing the limits of what was medically possible way before Meredith, and she would have won the Harper Avery years before Meredith if it weren’t for internal politics. She pushed her career forward from the beginning in a way Meredith never did.
This may be a hot take, but Meredith and Derek’s relationship was toxic from the get-go. He kept so many secrets from Meredith and constantly put his own needs above hers, but she still loved him enough to deal with all the things he did. Even after promising to help Meredith focus on her career, he still pressures her to move to D.C. so that he can get a better job. And when she pushes back, he goes anyway. What’s worse, he kisses another woman. Meredith deserved better, but I still supported the relationship because she seemed to truly love him.
In Christina and Meredith’s last scene together in season 10 episode 24, Christina says to Meredith about Derek, “Don’t let what he wants eclipse your needs. He’s very dreamy, but he’s not the sun, you are.” Christina saw Meredith’s potential and knew that Derek was holding her back. But in a way, even Christina was doing the same thing. She was just too brilliant for Meredith to ever perform at the same level. Meredith could never have progressed to the point she’s at now if Christina were still around.
Ever since Christina’s departure in season 10 and Derek’s death in season 11, the show has started to tackle even more important social issues. The show was iconic from the beginning because of its progressive attitudes on so many topics, but since Derek’s death, Grey’s has started to address even more hot button issues. Just last season, we saw Meredith take a stance for immigrant rights by committing insurance fraud to pay for a child’s cancer treatment. The season before, she bravely protests the Harper Avery Foundation after harassment allegations surfaced, fearlessly telling a journalist that she’s returning her and her mother’s three Harper Avery trophies. The Meredith trapped in a relationship with Derek and in the shadow of Christina didn’t do these things—the independent and badass one did, all while raising three children and running a hospital. Meredith has a place to shine now and she’s fully transformed the show. Grey’s Anatomy is no longer just a series about doctors and their relationships, it’s a show that reflects and acts on important issues that permeate every aspect of society today.