The show, created by Shonda Rhimes, premiered on ABC on March 27, 2005, and became an immediate, noisy hit. Since then, for a remarkably long time in Hollywood years, the drama has been among the most popular series on TV, even as the landscape of television has changed seismically. At its Season 2 ratings height, the program drew an average audience of 20 million viewers. And all these years later — in a TV universe now divided by more than 500 scripted shows —“Grey’s” ranks as the No. 1 drama among 18- to 34- year-olds and No. 2 among adults 18 to 49. In delayed, multiplatform viewing, Season 16 averaged 15 million viewers.
Strikingly, technology is such that teenagers who were born when the show premiered, and later binged “Grey’s” on Netflix, watch new episodes live with their parents. The series has spawned two successful spinoffs for ABC, “Private Practice” (which ran from 2007 to 2013) and “Station 19” (which enters its fourth season this fall). “Grey’s Anatomy” has been licensed in more than 200 territories across the world, translated into more than 60 languages, and catapulted the careers of music artists — from Ingrid Michaelson and Snow Patrol to Tegan and Sara and the Fray — whose songs have played during key emotional sequences.
In its explosive initial success, “Grey’s Anatomy” was an insurgent force in popular culture. The Season 1 cast featured three Black actors — Chandra Wilson, James Pickens Jr. and Isaiah Washington — as doctors in positions of power at the Seattle hospital where the show is set, and Sandra Oh played the ambitious intern Cristina Yang, who would become Meredith’s best friend. For the women characters, the “Grey’s” approach to sex was defiant and joyful, starting in the pilot with Meredith’s one-night stand with Derek (Patrick Dempsey), who turned out to be one of her bosses at the hospital.
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