Press Tour: ABC exec talks ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ ghost sex

01.16.09 9 years ago


One of the great things about the Internet is that it provides an open forum for all manner of diverse opinions. Perhaps I’m looking in the wrong places, but I’m not seeing so many voices out there declaring their enthusiastic endorsement for “Grey’s Anatomy” and its ongoing arc featuring Katherine Heigl’s Izzie in the midst of a sexual relationship with what seems to be the spirit of her deceased love Denny (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

If nothing else, the plotline gave me the opportunity to ask ABC President Steve McPherson how he’s feeling about the creative direction of the Emmy-winning drama and, in general, about Ghost Sex.

[Full discussion after the bump…]

Regarding the drama’s fifth season, which has left many viewers cold, with its self-mutilating nurses, weirdly truncated lesbian relationships and, well, Ghost Sex, McPherson didn’t shy away from the idea that there were problems.

“[T]he kind of shows that we have succeeded at doing are challenging shows. People are rabid about them. Nobody comes and says, ‘Well, I really think the, you know, 87th episode of X procedural has gone off the wire because of X character work.’ It’s an incredibly difficult process that these show runners have,” McPherson told the TCA on Friday (Jan. 16). “And you look at the work that Marc Cherry did, coming out of the gate like the most shining star ever. You guys beat him up. The viewers beat him up a little bit. I think he’s doing the best work he’s ever done.  He reacted to this well. He took it to heart. He adjusted, and he’s the most passionate guy about it. ‘Lost’ has done the same thing. I think Shonda is doing the same thing and going through one of those periods.”

And the fact that one of the show’s already polarizing characters having frequent intercourse with a corpse?

“[I]t’s not a ghost, which you’ll learn,” McPherson informed (reminded?) us. “But, you know, I actually think that when you get to the end of the season, you see everything that she had in mind. Might not be your cup of tea, but I think you will be surprised at how insightful and actually smart the storyline itself is in terms of the dynamics that it’s creating for the characters who are involved and where we end up with those characters at the end.”

After the session, McPherson reiterated his support for the Not-Ghost Sex arc.

“I actually really liked the storyline when I heard the whole year as it laid out.”

That being said, McPherson also acknowledged that without full knowledge of Shonda Rhimes’ endgame, fan response has been mighty negative.

“I think it’s been a bump in the road, certainly people have reacted negatively to the Denny side of it and we’ll have to see if the way that that gets resolved is satisfying to viewers,” he said.

In the panel, McPherson’s support for Rhimes was oddly qualified.

“I think Shonda is one of the most, if not, the most talented woman writer out there right now and has such a great perspective on where she wants to take the show,” said McPherson, specifying gender when none had been previously mentioned. “She’s responded to the criticism, I think, incredibly well.  And we will see where we go. Again, that’s the beauty.  We will put it out there and see what people react with.”

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