Hollywood's shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March has wrecked the 2020 movie world, but it was a different story for TV. The virus hit the U.S. late enough in the TV season, even series that failed to finish filming were close enough to make a wrap-up work. Grey's Anatomy was one of them. Season 16 was initially ordered at 24 episodes; it ended with 21, effectively losing just the penultimate story and two-part finale. But the result evidentially will be felt this coming year, as Grey's Anatomy Season 17 will have a time jump to bring the story up to speed.
Grey's Anatomy is roughly set in the present day, but that doesn't necessarily mean one season time jumps from spring to autumn, or episodes that air around Thanksgiving are automatically holiday-set. But that's the prerogative of a series that airs seasons that run the length of a classic TV drama, from September to May, and covers the world of a hospital, where the emergencies come no matter what month it is.
But the world has changed drastically since Grey's aired the last episode of Season 16 on April 9, and hospitals have been front and center of dealing with the pandemic. When Season 16 ended, the national health situation was not even something the show's writing referenced. When it returns (presumably in the fall), Seattle, which is where the series is set, will have experienced over 65,000 cases in real life.
The series already revealed the pandemic would be part of Season 17. Now, one of the series' stars has confirmed the show will be jumping forward in time to begin with the crisis in full swing.
According to actor Giacomo Gianniotti, who plays Andrew DeLuca, the show will move forward in time to reflect where Seattle and the rest of America are today with the pandemic, with the hospital having spent months in the trenches trying to get on top of it.
Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Gianniotti said:
We're going to start the season about a month and a half [into] full COVID, so it's going to take place a little beyond where we left off in the last season... We might have some things where we're referencing last season, just to have context leading up. But we are going to have a little leap when we start this season in terms of time. We're not picking up right where we left off.
Of course, the show has to be able to start filming first, and Gianniotti admitted production still hasn't been given the all-clear. The schedule initially had the cast returning in August, but in Gianniotti's words, that's been "pushed" to September as producers figure out the new protocols. He told ET:
Our producers are all rapidly trying to implement all of these protocols to keep everybody safe... There's a learning curve for any show. We're uniquely lucky that we get to wear PPE because we play doctors, so for other shows that aren't in the doctor world I really feel for them because that's an added challenge that they have to face.
Grey's Anatomy Season 17 is expected to return in the fall of 2020, though no premiere date has yet been set.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Elite Daily's coverage of the coronavirus here.