The breakout television hit "Grey's Anatomy," created and produced by Shonda Rhimes '91, has been awarded one of network television's biggest honors: the coveted post-Super Bowl time slot. The show, now in its second season, will air after the game on Feb. 5, 2006, to what is customarily television's most attentive audience.
The show follows five medical interns at the fictional Seattle Grace hospital as they work to save patients and balance hectic social lives. Rhimes' main character, played by Ellen Pompeo, attended Dartmouth and frequently wears Dartmouth paraphernalia on the show.
The decision to air "Grey's Anatomy" after the Super Bowl, announced last week by ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson, is just the latest of Rhimes' accomplishments. The show debuted last March to respectable reviews and decent ratings. In June, "Grey's Anatomy" received three Emmy nominations and officially replaced "Boston Legal," ABC's former powerhouse series, in the Sunday 10 p.m. time slot.
This fall in that same time slot, "Grey's Anatomy" premiered to heavy critical acclaim and a huge increase in audience. This year the medical drama is averaging 18.2 million viewers per episode and is the fourth highest-rated prime-time show on television. It is the number two show on TV among women and among the coveted 18- to 49-year-old demographic.
Rhimes, who majored in English before attending the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, did not anticipate the show's popularity.
"I did not expect the show to be as big of a hit as it is," Rhimes said in an interview with The Dartmouth. "I just wanted to make a show that I'd really want to watch."
By airing after the Super Bowl, ABC hopes to further widen "Grey's Anatomy's" audience and hopefully attract more male viewers.
Rhimes can count many current Dartmouth students as fans of her show.
"It's an amazing show," Shruthi Rereddy '09 said. "The five interns are hassled and running on adrenaline and sleeping around with each other -- clearly quality programming. I like it because it's all over the place. It deals with illness and ambition and stereotypes and sacrifice, and it does it all using very attractive actors."
Haley Wauson '09 enjoys the strong association of Pompeo's character, Meredith Grey, with the College, as well as the show's dramatic story line.
"I think it is a pretty good depiction of the normal interactions that would result from a group of young people working together as closely as they do on the show -- normal being people having illicit love affairs in the changing area and dramatically showing up drunk to work in an E.R.," she said.