‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Star Ellen Pompeo Wants Show to Portray Social Issues ‘More Subtly and Over Time’

The actress said she wishes the series was “less preachy” and more “consistent” with weighty social issues

Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey in "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)
Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey in "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)

Throughout its near-two-decade tenure, the hit soapy ABC medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” has tackled numerous social issues including mental health, police brutality and intimate partner violence. However, star Ellen Pompeo said she wished the series was “less preachy” and more “consistent” with its commentary.

Speaking on the latest episode of her “Tell Me” podcast, the actress said she wished “Grey’s Anatomy” would be more nuanced and dedicated to the plot lines regarding weighty social topics.

“I think if I had any desire honestly it would be to be less, sort of, preachy in one episode about certain things,” Pompeo said in response to a fan question. “It’s like, we do one episode about, let’s see … Asian hate crimes is one that we did this past season that was really moving. I think I’d like to see things happen a little more subtly and over time. You know, consistently and less, sort of, hit you over the head for just one hour, and then we never talk about it again. I wish we could touch on these social issues that are important and relevant and have them be threads throughout.”

Yesterday it was announced that Pompeo will not be as involved in “Grey’s Anatomy” for its upcoming 19th season, scaling back her role and appearing in only eight of the installment’s episodes. The move is in line with her character’s storylines throughout the past seasons: In Season 17, Meredith was in a medically induced coma after contracting COVID-19, while Season 18 saw her studying Parkinson’s disease in Minnesota.

The actress herself has been vocal about being ready for the series to come to a conclusion. Last year, she told Insider, “I’ve been trying to focus on convincing everybody that it should end,” adding that, “​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?’ And everyone’s like, ‘Who cares, Ellen? It makes a gazillion dollars.’”

Next up on Pompeo’s docket outside of the world of Grey Sloan Memorial is an untitled Hulu project that will mark her first acting foray outside of the medical procedural. The life-inspired limited series, which Pompeo is also executive producing under her Calamity Jane production banner, is about a Midwestern couple who adopts what they believe is an 8-year-old girl with a rare form of dwarfism.