'Grey's Anatomy' Season 8 Preview: 5 Things to Know

Executive producers Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers tell THR how they're approaching the split season and what's next for the docs of Seattle Grace.

When ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy premieres its eighth season Thursday, there’s a lot going on at Seattle Grace. Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) is dealing with the ramifications of tampering with Derek’s (Patrick Dempsey) Alzheimer’s clinical trial both at work and at home. Cristina (Sandra Oh) and Owen (Kevin McKidd) are pregnant and one of them isn’t very happy about it.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with executive producers Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers to discuss some of what’s ahead as the medical drama heads into Season 8. Here are five things we learned from the duo.

1. There’s no theme this season. With the medical drama is effectively splitting its run in two and taking a long hiatus over the holidays, Rhimes is approaching the season as two mini installments. “I don’t have a theme,” Rhimes tells THR. “It feels really weird to say that but I actually don’t have a theme for this year. It’s hard to put a theme over something when you only know half the story.” The good thing about a split season? “There will be a cliffhanger that will carry us through until we’re back on the air, I think, in January,” she says. 

2. Cristina won’t change. A pregnant Cristina and new mother Meredith have very different baby drama in the two-hour opener. “The season premiere really is about how Cristina’s pregnancy impacts her relationship [with Owen] and what it means for them in the future,” Rhimes says. “The decision she makes and that he makes really are going to have long-reaching repercussions.” While Cristina has been very clear in her decision to not have children – the character had an abortion at the end of Season 1 – Rhimes says she will approach it in an interesting fashion. “I try to keep it honest to how I think people really behave as opposed to sugar coating it,” she notes.

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3. More dance time? While Meredith’s tampering with Derek’s clinical trial has created a massive rift between the couple, and Cristina and Owen’s vastly different views on children, executive producer Beers note that the upcoming season will have “lots of good Cristina-Meredith stuff.” Hopefully that means more scenes like this.

4. Big mistakes. Meredith will spend much of the season dealing with the ramifications of tampering with the Alzheimer’s trial – both at work and at home when it comes to her relationship with Derek and their new daughter, Zola, Rhimes warns. “What Meredith chose to do with the clinical trial is going to have really long-reaching affects in terms of both her marriage and Zola,” she says. “The biggest impact is going to be to her career and we’re going to watch that unfold.” 

5. The medical cases will continue to push the envelope. With the second hour of the two-hour premiere serving as the series’ 150th episode, Rhimes and Beers note that they continue to try to advance the show. “Once you’ve done 150 episodes of something, to keep it fresh really is the challenge and we’re obsessed with that,” Rhimes says. “The Grey’s Anatomy that’s on the air now is different than the Grey’s Anatomy that was on three years ago; we’re trying to reinvent the show all the time so that it doesn’t feel stale.” Adds Beers: “We have amazing people digging for medical stories because we want to make sure that a) it’s cutting edge; and b) that these are stories that are new, fresh and interesting.”

Grey's Anatomy premieres Thursday on ABC.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit

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