During the Television Academy's "Quaranstreaming: Comfort TV That Keeps Us Going" panel on Tuesday, "Grey's Anatomy" executive producer Krista Vernoff revealed the medical drama will address the coronavirus pandemic in Season 17, saying the series has a "responsibility" to tell stories about doctors fighting the global health crisis.
"We're going to address this pandemic for sure," Vernoff confirmed, per EW. "There's no way to be a long-running medical show and not do the medical story of our lifetimes."
The EP said "Grey's" writers consult with doctors every season, however, this year's conversations have been very different as the medical professionals are sharing their personal experiences handling the pandemic.
"Every year, we have doctors come and tell us their stories, and usually they’re telling their funniest or craziest stories," said Vernoff, who participated in the panel along with the show's stars Chandra Wilson (Dr. Miranda Bailey) and Kevin McKidd (Dr. Owen Hunt).
"This year, it has felt more like therapy," she continued. "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."
"That’s been one of our big conversations about Owen [Hunt], is that he's actually trained for this in a way that most of the other doctors aren’t," she added.
Vernoff admitted it's been "really painful" to learn about the suffering healthcare workers have endured, but noted the show "has an opportunity and a responsibility to tell some of those stories."
"Our conversations have been constantly about how do we keep alive humor and romance while we tell these really painful stories."