By BILL HARRIS
Special to The Lede
Think about how much medical science has advanced in the past decade and a half. Those life-saving developments have been reflected in the storytelling on GREY’S ANATOMY, according to Kevin McKidd.
“Our show started in 2005, and back then, for example, if you had an inoperable cancer, or a cancer that was not removable, 15 years ago that was pretty much considered a death sentence,” says McKidd, who plays Dr. Owen Hunt. “That has changed. Certain cancers now are treated in ways that can make them chronic conditions, as opposed to fatal. So there have been big shifts, and we're telling those stories on GREY’S ANATOMY. It's exciting.”
The 16th season of GREY’S ANATOMY debuts Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on CTV, and while medical dramas represent one of the most enduring and resilient genres in the history of television, the best shows within that genre find a way to regularly reboot.
“It doesn't seem like the audience is tiring of it, and our show feels more vibrant now than it has felt in a long, long time,” says McKidd, a Scottish actor who joined GREY’S ANATOMY in 2008. “The medical world has changed, and we’ve changed right along with it. They work tirelessly in that writers’ room. The show keeps growing, rather than repeating.”
The consistent push to keep GREY’S ANATOMY relevant extends well beyond the medical cases, too.
“It's a hybrid of many things that keeps this show going,” McKidd says. “Shonda (Rhimes, creator) and Krista (Vernoff, showrunner) are really interested in talking about how our society is shifting. The way we consider family, the way we view work, the gender politics of where we are, all those conversations, we're not afraid to talk about.”
McKidd, who has been a staple on the showbiz scene since the mid-1990s, understands the rarity of landing on a series with the staying power of GREY’S ANATOMY.
“I always speak to Jim (Pickens, who plays Dr. Richard Webber) about this, and we look at each other and pinch ourselves,” McKidd says. “This is the gig of a lifetime for an actor. You know, we're just working actors. I'm not Brad Pitt. I'm a good actor and I'm good at what I do. And I'm now becoming a decent director, I think. But for a gig like this to come along, for any actor, it's needle-in-a-haystack time. It wouldn't happen again for us, probably - and that's OK. But it feels like our show has quite a few more years left in it.”
Getting down to specifics, what can McKidd tell us about the journey for Dr. Owen Hunt in the new season of GREY’S ANATOMY?
“Owen had a bunch of therapy, so I'm hoping he’s going to behave a little better,” McKidd says. “He acted out quite a lot last season, and probably did a few things that were not in his best interests, and not him at his best. Even though things aren't resolved, I hope he'll be more level-headed. But who knows? This is GREY’S ANATOMY, he's a hot-headed guy, and he’s caught in what you’d almost call a ‘love quadrangle.’ ”
Hey, we’ve all heard of “love triangles,” but GREY’S ANATOMY always is looking to push the envelope. So, add one more.
“That’s what we’ve done,” says McKidd, with a tongue-in-cheek, self-congratulatory tone. “We’ve achieved that.”