Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) were an item from the very first episode of Grey's Anatomy in 2005. For more than 10 years, fans watched their relationship rise and fall, from the sudden arrival of his wife, Addison Montgomery, to Meredith's suicidal phase, to finally getting married (even if it was on a post-it), to fertility issues, welcoming their children, and finally, Derek's death in a car accident.
Throughout the ups and downs, fans of the long-running medical drama have considered Meredith and Derek #couplegoals. But as showrunner Krista Vernoff told People recently, had that relationship started on television today, the reactions to it would have been wildly different.
"If you look at, for example, Meredith and Derek through the lens of Time's Up and #MeToo, he was her boss, she was an intern, and she kept saying, 'No, walk away from me,' and he kept pursuing her, and that is probably not a story we would tell on the show today, and it's a beautiful reflection of the changing times."
"This season, we're doing a little bit of a reversal as we begin to build this love triangle that's emerging with DeLuca as one the people in that triangle, and he is a resident and Meredith is an attending, and we're having to address it differently than we ever would have before," Vernoff explained. "We're having to talk about and look at power dynamics. It is an ongoing conversation in the writer's room. How do we tell that story in a way that feels honest and romantic and sexy and yet proactive and progressive?"
To be sure, Grey's is probably the poster-child for inappropriate relationships in the workplace, given that nobody in the hospital seems to have NOT had a relationship or at least a fling with someone else working at Grey Sloan Memorial.
Over the years, we watched Christina Yang (Sandra Oh) nearly marry Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington) when she was an intern and he was an attending, then she married Owen Hunt while she was still a resident and he was already an attending; We've seen Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington) marry Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) while she was still a resident and he was an attending, as well as numerous other attendings hooking up with and breaking the hearts of interns and residents.
But the most prominent love story over the years has always stood out as Meredith and Derek, which is perhaps part of the reason that the writers haven't really written Meredith much of a love story up until now following his death, given the attachment so many fans have to her relationship with Derek.