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Shonda Rhimes Got Some Curious Pushback About The Grey's Anatomy Pilot

Few television shows have captivated audiences quite like the ABC hit "Grey's Anatomy," which premiered in 2005 and is still going strong in 2022. Like any medical drama, the series takes place predominantly at a hospital — the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital — and chronicles the lives of the heroes tasked with saving the lives of others. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) serves as the central protagonist, though her exit may be coming soon. Luckily, the cast list has grown exponentially since Season 1, which has allowed for a host of stories of varying emotional tones to unfold for fans to get invested in.

"Grey's Anatomy" boasts an immense, globe-spanning fanbase who have no shortage of material to enjoy. At the time of this writing, the groundbreaking program is up to 19 seasons with well over 400 episodes under its belt, and it stands to reason that number will only continue to climb as the years go by. This has all happened under the direction of the series' creator and executive producer, Shonda Rhimes, who developed it with the intention of adding to the far too short list of medical dramas focused largely on educated, driven women (via the New York Times).

While she had faith in her project from the start, Shonda Rhimes got some surprising pushback from the powers that be over the pilot episode. Here's what kind of criticism she received from the ABC brass. 

Executives couldn't wrap their heads around Meredith Grey's portrayal

"Grey's Anatomy" mastermind Shonda Rhimes and executive producer Betsy Beers appeared on "9 to 5ish with theSkimm" to discuss the long-running program and its origins. During the chat, Rhimes recalled some odd negative feedback she received about the pilot episode from ABC executives. She remembers walking into a room occupied by older men who told her that "Grey's Anatomy" would be a problem since it featured Meredith Grey sleeping with someone the evening before her first day on the job. While that may sound like a joke, Rhimes emphasizes that those folks were deathly serious about their worries.

"I remember sort of thinking, like, 'These guys don't know anything about what's happening in the world right now, but they're the people making the decisions,'" Rhimes adds before giving Beers the floor to repeat how she responded to this situation. "I couldn't help it, and I said, 'Oh, that's me. I do that. That's absolutely me,'" she said with a laugh, noting that upon drawing the parallel between herself and Meredith, the room cleared in no time flat. Evidently, for one reason or another, that group of executives couldn't wrap their heads around such a concept, yet their overkill response didn't end up harming the show.

When it was all said and done, "Grey's Anatomy" not only made it to air, but it became one of the biggest TV shows of all time — no thanks to a room full of out-of-touch executives.