'Grey's Anatomy': What to expect from the post-Derek season

'Grey's Anatomy' creator Shonda Rhimes says the new season will be happier in tone because she missed 'the banter and the fun' of early seasons.

Amy Sussman/Invision/AP/File
'Grey's Anatomy' stars Ellen Pompeo, seen here at a 2013 photo shoot.

The twelfth season of “Grey’s Anatomy” debuts later this month and fans have gotten some hints about what to expect from the drama.

“Grey’s” airs on ABC and tells the stories of surgeons at a Seattle hospital. While last season had some dark moments, including the death of romantic leading character Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), one of the “Grey’s” cast members recently said that the new episodes have a much lighter tone.

Actor Jason George, who portrays an anesthesiologist married to surgeon Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), said the show has "hit reboot, almost. There's a lot of things that make it feel brand new, but it has that lightness and sense of humor that people fell in love with in the first place.” 

“Grey’s” creator Shonda Rhimes confirmed that the upcoming episodes will feel happier than recent seasons. “I missed the banter and the fun" of the early episodes, she said. “I missed their quickness and lightness.” 

In addition, protagonist Meredith, who was married to Derek, is now living with her half-sister and her sister-in-law. “Right now it's very funny,” Ms. Rhimes said. “Those three women are very different and don't have very much in common, which is fantastic…. It's a fascinating dynamic. It's family.”

In addition, there will be another jump forward in time. Last season, the final episodes pushed through the year after Derek’s death, and now the new season will take place three months after that. 

Rhimes has either created or produced all three shows on ABC’s successful Thursday night block, with “Scandal,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” and “Grey’s” all airing back to back.

Rhimes herself was selected for inclusion in the upcoming film “The Women’s List,” which selects 15 women who influence our culture.

Rhimes’s shows are often praised for having characters of various racial backgrounds and sexual orientation, but Rhimes says she’s just making TV reflect real life. 

"I really hate the word 'diversity,' ” she said while being honored at the Human Rights Campaign’s Los Angeles Gala. "As if there is something unusual about telling stories about women or people of color or LGBT characters on TV. I have a different word. I call it 'normalizing.' I make TV look like the world looks.”

The new season of "Grey's Anatomy" debuts Sept. 24.

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