I would give just about anything to hug Shonda Rhimes right now. Because, let’s face it, the woman could probably use a hug. After more than a year of wondering which of her actors would return for another year on her show that she knew wasn’t going to be ending no matter who did or didn’t come back, she came face-to-face with what had to be one of her worst nightmares: write a season finale where I can make it so that any single cast member can leave.
Now, I’ve never met Shonda Rhimes. I don’t know her, and I think it is probably safe to say that I never will. But in the way Shonda Rhimes was kind of weirdly in love with Denny, I’m kind of weirdly in love with Shonda Rhimes, except that Shonda Rhimes is real and Denny was fictional, so whereas it just made Shonda seem like maybe she was crazy, it makes me seem like I’m a little bit stalkerish. But I promise, I’m not stalkerish. In any sense. But, see, in my head, Shonda Rhimes is my best friend. She’s dark and twisty in the same kind of way I am dark and twisty, and this little show she created called Grey’s Anatomy saved my life, in a sense, at a time when my life needed some saving. She, and the show, inspired me in a way that nothing and nobody else ever has, and I’m proud to admit that. She started this show, this show that became a monster hit, without knowing what the hell she was doing, and has figured it out along the way, not afraid to admit her mistakes or tell it like it should be. She cares deeply for her fans, but also for her story. The bottom line is: Shonda Rhimes is my hero.
So now you’re all thinking that I’m crazy. And maybe a stalker. And probably that this isn’t how I really feel, that I’m actually just trying to kiss Shonda’s ass so that maybe she’ll notice this post and talk to me.
Well. I suppose I could be crazy. We’re all at least a little bit crazy, aren’t we? There’s a wire loose somewhere in each of us, whether we like it or not. I’m definitely not a stalker, and I’m not really aspiring to be. I’m much too lazy and afraid of getting into trouble to do something like that. But I can promise you that this is how I really feel. I’m pretty sure there’s an ex-girlfriend of mine out there somewhere that could confirm how passionately defensive I get about Shonda and an internet blogger or two that could attest to it as well. She’s a woman who is constantly getting attacked and verbally abused, most of the time for things that aren’t her fault and that she can’t control, by her fans, and yet, somehow, she just handles it all.
Plus, I’m not naive. I know she’ll never see this. If she did, I’d probably die.
I feel like Shonda talked to us a lot more this year than she has in the past. The Grey’s Anatomy writers may have discontinued the writer’s blog, and she may have taken a few extended breaks from her Twitter, but I still feel like we heard a lot more from Shonda this year on the goings-on behind-the-scenes than we have in the past. She wasn’t shy about sharing the fact that she had no clue how to end the season. That she didn’t know who was coming back. That she had mantled and dismantled the finale countless times, just trying to make it work and figure out how to end it in case this person or that person didn’t come back.
And out of all of that, a plane crash was born.
I’m willing to bet the finale was written in just a matter of hours. And I’m willing to bet that even as everybody read it at the table read and as everybody shot their scenes and as they edited the episode in the editing bay, she wanted to change it all. She didn’t want it to happen.
She wasn’t shy about admitting it on her Twitter as the episode aired: “This is the only finale I have ever been totally unsure of.” She also said: “This finale was incredibly hard to write. I did not enjoy it. It made me sick and it made me sad.”
At the time the season finale was written, it’s more than likely safe to say that Shonda still had no clue who would be back next season. The news of Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Sandra Oh, Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson, and Jim Pickens all returning for two more years only broke about a week and a half before the finale aired, and that news probably broke not long after the deals were finalized, which would have been long after the finale had been written and shot, and much too late to go back and change any of it.
So, unfortunately for everyone involved, Shonda still had to write, and air, a finale in which the future would be uncertain. For absolutely everyone and everything. I mean just think about it. It had to be one of the most difficult things she’s ever had to have written.
I won’t lie: I get the feeling that this is not the finale Shonda Rhimes wanted. And I think if she could have, she would have done everything differently, but she simply didn’t have a choice. I don’t think she wanted to kill Lexie Grey off, but it seems like Chyler Leigh felt it was time to leave the series, and killing her off in the plane crash made the most sense with where everybody’s story was.
I find myself surprisingly not angry. Everyone around me seems angry about all of it, and angry at Shonda Rhimes for it, but I don’t share the feeling. Oddly enough, I feel kind of neutral when it comes to the finale. I can understand why people are upset, I’m not trying to say I don’t get it, because I do. I’m certainly saddened at the death of Lexie Grey. I didn’t want her to die; in fact, I loved her character very much. I cried a lot, and for a long time, when she died. But the episode left me feeling neither elated nor upset. I felt like Meredith and Cristina at the end of the episode, chewing on that stick of gum: What happens next?
It’s certainly going to change things for the show. But every so often, that’s exactly what needs to happen, and I think it’s pretty clear that the ninth season is going to be a completely fresh start as the doctors, and Shonda herself, figure out what to do in the aftermath of this plane crash.
I know not everybody out there is feeling as pissed off and angry about the finale as I’ve been seeing. I know there are a lot of you out there who probably feel the same way I do; who love Shonda and want her to be your best friend too. It’s just that, right now, in this moment, it doesn’t really seem like there are a lot of us, and it is at times like these that I find myself hurting for my hero. And I feel like it is at times like these that she could use a reminder, even if it’s a reminder that she’ll never see, that there are people out there who love her for what she does and will continually leap with her no matter how far we have to leap to get there. In the end, Shonda is a human being like the rest of us, and she has feelings too. Feelings that I feel like are being unfairly abused right about now. She’s brought us this amazing show, this amazing experience, and for that, I will be eternally grateful, eternally dedicated, and eternally proud.
I just want to hug Shonda Rhimes.