'Grey's Anatomy' Season 17 Will Address the Coronavirus Pandemic

Meredith Jacobs
Owen Hunt Grey's Anatomy Coronavirus Pandemic Storyline
ABC/Gilles Mingasson

Will art mirror real life when Grey's Anatomy returns for its 17th season? The answer is yes when it comes to the pandemic.

"We're going to address this pandemic for sure," executive producer Krista Vernoff confirms during the Television Academy's "Quaranstreaming: Comfort TV That Keeps Us Going" panel (via Entertainment Weekly). "There's no way to be a long-running medical show and not do the medical story of our lifetimes."

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They chatted about the importance of celebrating healthcare workers, representation, and more.

While the writers have taken some more humorous or wild stories from real-life doctors' experiences in the past, now, they're hearing about the pandemic. "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," Vernoff said of the doctors, whose stories she thinks they have "an opportunity and a responsibility to tell."

When it comes to the impact on the fictional doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial, she noted that former Army surgeon Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) is "actually trained for this in a way that most of the other doctors aren't." That suggests that we should see him in the center of any coronavirus-related storyline in Season 17.

Kim Raver Grey's Anatomy Teddy Altman Season 16

(ABC/Gilles Mingasson)

And it may mean he throws himself into his work at a time when his personal life—he found out fiancée Teddy Altman (Kim Raver), who was also Army, was cheating on him with fellow doc and her ex-boyfriend Tom Koracick (Greg Germann) just as they were about to get married—is up in the air, considering Vernoff also said that they're discussing "how do we keep alive humor and romance while we tell these really painful stories."

Grey's Anatomy shut down production on its 16th season with four episodes left to go, leaving several storylines up in the air, including Andrew DeLuca's (Giacomo Gianniotti) mental health—which was addressed on the spinoff Station 19—and two (potential) love triangles. How plans to address the pandemic might affect what happens next with the loose threads has yet to be determined.

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Fans of unscripted series like 'Voice' and 'Bachelorette' and dramas like 'SVU' and Grey's' will have tough choices to make.

The ABC medical drama is slated to be part of the network's "fall" schedule, but there's no word yet on when production will resume, so it's impossible to even speculate about a premiere date.

Grey's Anatomy, Season 17, Fall 2020, ABC