Pompeo says that she's concerned about ensuring there's a strong story while everyone else around her is focused on only one thing.
Every new year, the question come up again. Will ABC renew "Grey's Anatomy" for another season. In its 18th season, the show remains a strong ratings draw for the network.
The longer its on, though, the more a lot of that decision rests with its star for the past 18 seasons, Ellen Pompeo. Now, in a recent interview with Insider, the woman who made Dr. Meredith Grey a household name admits she's definitely thinking about hanging up her scrubs.
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Even more than that, she seems to be actively trying to make it happen behind the scenes. "I’ve been trying to focus on convincing everybody that it should end," she admitted.
While she could just draw a line in the sand and refuse to renew her contract and walk away from the show, after all this time, it's probably important to her to give fans the closure they deserve after nearly two decades.
That means coordinating this decision with the powers that be at the network and the producers of the show. No one wants an unresolved cliffhanger looming over the show's legacy forever. It become all people talk about. And you know "Grey's" can't resist a big season-ending cliffhanger!
For Pompeo, it comes down to story. She wants to ensure the show is able to continue moving forward with quality content, logical story and character progression -- basically, she's not looking for "Grey's" to jump the shark in its final seasons, either, and get ignominiously canceled as a shell of its former self.
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"I feel like I’m the super naive one who keeps saying, ‘But what’s the story going to be, what story are we going to tell?" said Pompeo. But, she said, something else seems to be on everyone else's minds when it comes to the show's future.
"Everyone’s like, ‘Who cares, Ellen? It makes a gazillion dollars,'" she added. Certainly, Pompeo is making bank, earning more than $20 million per year, plus an additional estimated $6 to $7 million as a producer on the show.
Creator Shonda Rhimes has said on multiple occasions that "Grey's" will end whenever Pompeo says she's done. While it would be possible to continue the show without Meredith Grey -- they did rename the hospital Grey Sloan Memorial so the name would still make sense -- it's hard to imagine it having the same magic without her.
Average ratings for "Grey's" have actually been on the rise, with recent reports indicating that the current Season 18 premiere more than tripled its same-day viewer total when digital viewing is included, pushing it to an impressive 14.2 million (per The Hollywood Reporter) for a broadcast network show.
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Much is said of the declining ratings, but those are almost exclusively based on same-day viewership numbers, which have been on the decline for years. But on-demand, streaming and digital viewing continues to skyrocket, proving that viewership is still there, they're just not consuming content the same ways.
As such, it's understandable that Pompeo may have a bit of a fight on her hands if she wants to convince the head honchos that it's time to say goodbye to one of their most consistent performers.
Time will tell if Season 18 proves to be the show's last, or if Pompeo can perhaps be convinced that there is still plenty of good story to be told through the character of Meredith Grey.