‘Grey’s Anatomy’ to feature coronavirus crisis in Season 17

Even “Grey’s Anatomy” can’t escape the coronavirus.

Season 17 of the medical drama will feature the COVID-19 pandemic as a plot point, says executive producer Krista Vernoff. The show’s writers are even meeting with real-life doctors who have been on the front lines of combating the virus in order to have accuracy.

“There’s no way to be a long-running medical show and not do the medical story of our lifetime. We’re going to address this pandemic, for sure,” she said on a recent panel that will stream at 8 p.m. on Emmys.com, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Over the course of its long run — it has been on the air since 2005, cycling through stars like Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”) and Patrick Dempsey — the ABC show has had no shortage of absurd medical issues. There was a man who swallowed doll heads in Season 2, a patient who needed to watch porn in order to manage his pain when he was allergic to meds (also Season 2), and a couple who got physically stuck together during sex, thanks to a piercing (Season 3).

But COVID-19 will be approached with sensitivity, producers said.

“Every year, we have doctors come and tell us their stories, and usually, they’re telling their funniest or craziest stories. This year, it has felt more like therapy,” Vernoff said. “The doctors come in, and we’re the first people they’re talking to about these types of experiences they’re having. They are literally shaking and trying not to cry. They’re pale, and they’re talking about it as war — a war that they were not trained for.”

It will particularly impact Dr. Owen Hunt’s (Kevin McKidd) plotline, she said. “That’s been one of our big conversations about Owen, is that he’s actually trained for this in a way that most of the other doctors aren’t.”

Filming for Season 17 has been delayed by the pandemic. An air date has not yet been announced, but Ellen Pompeo will still star.

Kelly McCreary, Debbie Allen and Chandra Wilson in a scene from "Grey's Anatomy."
Kelly McCreary, Debbie Allen and Chandra Wilson in a scene from “Grey’s Anatomy.”ABC

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