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The Lifetime Medical Drama That Grey's Anatomy Fans Will Love

"Grey's Anatomy" is the longest-running primetime medical of all time. In 2019, it surpassed NBC's "ER" for the title after logging 332 episodes — and it's still going strong several seasons later. Starring Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Sandra Oh, and more, the drama set at Seattle Grace/Seattle Grace Mercy West/Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital debuted in 2005 on ABC and has maintained a loyal fan base ever since. "Grey's" was, in fact, recently renewed for its' 18th (!) season, per TV Line.

Fans have been drawn to the series that focuses on the work and very personal lives of the doctors, with a strong central female character, Pompeo's Meredith Grey, narrating from her perspective. The series has actually featured a whole lot of girl power with characters such as Chief of Surgery Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and Meredith's best friend, fellow surgeon Cristina Yang, who once described her bestie as "my person."

While showrunner Krista Vernoff once told People that "ER" was one of the shows that made her want to write for television and that it "forged a path for 'Grey's Anatomy' to come," there is another show that came before "Grey's" that may have also inspired her. Chances are it will definitely inspire fans looking for a fresh medical drama fix with strong female leads.

Five years before Grey's Anatomy debuted, a sleeper medical drama began airing on Lifetime

Years before fans met Meredith Grey and her McDreamy, Lifetime viewers were tuned into the medical drama series "Strong Medicine." The show aired on the cable network from 2000 to 2006, per IMDb, and followed "tough female doctors" at the Rittenhouse Women's clinic as they dealt with "female-centric issues and trying to make the world a better place in a male-dominated society."

The series, created by Whoopi Goldberg,  starred Rosa Blasi as Dr. Lu Delgado and Janine Turner as Dr. Dana Stowe, and it featured a story arc that later popped up on "Grey's": the merging of medical facilities. (In this case, the merger of Dr. Delgado's Philadelphia-area free clinic with a large hospital). Later cast members included Patricia Richardson, Ricky Schroeder, and Tamera Mowry.

Goldberg told CNN she got the idea for the show after she overheard doctors talking about medical issues while she was in a hospital waiting room. Meanwhile, Blasi noted the narrative of strong women and female friendships offered a new take on the medical drama genre. "This is a drama about women," she told CNN. "The issues that we're dealing with in every episode are women's health issues that aren't brought up on other series." At the time, "ER" and "Chicago Hope" were in full swing on network television.

 "Strong Medicine" ended its run on Lifetime after six seasons and 132 episodes. Fifteen years later, reruns of the series can be viewed on Tubi.