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To hear showrunner Shonda Rhimes tell it, the beloved characters journey in the second half of season 11 will be to figure out who they are as individuals now — and where their love for one another goes.
“It’s lovely to get to know Arizona not as somebody in a relationship with Callie, and as this person who has come through this relationship with Callie and who she is now,” Rhimes tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We’re trying to figure out who she is now, and it’s interesting to see Callie figure out who she is now.”
The Oct. 23 episode delivered a gut punch to Callie and Arizona fans when the former decided it was time to rip off the Band-Aid holding their marriage together and that she’d lost her individuality and needed to reestablish who she was before tending to their relationship.
“When a couple breaks up, I always ask: Where does the love go? It’s not like you don’t still love the person; the love just doesn’t disappear,” Rhimes says. “But you can’t love the person. It’s really great watching them try to figure out how to be friends, how to love each other as friends and co-parents, and how to support each other when the other person needs it without it being weird or without it being too much.”
The second half of season 11 will see Callie and Arizona learning how to best interact with each other as friends and as parents to their daughter — as well as dating new people.
“We reach a place where there is an exploration of them dating and getting back out there into the world,” Rhimes says. “I didn’t want to rush it. I didn’t want to throw them at other people because I feel the same as with Owen (Kevin McKidd) — you have to be respectful of the relationship they had. We do it slowly and interestingly, and then we’re going to take our little steps. But it’s been really fun to put them out there and find people that they’re intrigued by.”
While it’s unclear if the out and proud bisexual Callie will date a man or a woman, Rhimes says she and star Ramirez have had a lot of conversations about the discrimination that the bisexual community often faces.
“I’ve read a lot about that concept that bisexuality has not had a lot of support. One of my favorite things that we did in the Callie and Arizona episode is Callie announcing that she’s bisexual, which by the way, I think nobody has ever done that on television, like ‘I’m bisexual,’ which I think is crazy,” Rhimes says. “I love that she’s determinedly bisexual. She’s not somebody who is straight who discovers she’s a lesbian; she’s bisexual and feels very strongly about that. That’s been interesting for us to navigate — and the character sticks to it. Arizona was always a little dismissive of that. In the early days of their relationship, the fight they always had was, ‘You’re taking a tour through being a lesbian and you’re going to go back to men.’ ”
While reconciliation doesn’t appear to be in the immediate cards, Rhimes still has high hopes for Callie and Arizona winding up together.
“I’m always rooting for Arizona and Callie to be together,” says Rhimes, who notes that she has the couple’s wedding cake topper in her office as a keepsake. “For me, I think they’re the perfect couple, but that’s not to say they’re going to be together. For me, they’re the perfect couple. It would make me very sad if they were apart. That doesn’t mean that they’re going to be able to work out their problems and get it together in time, for when ever the show is going to end. But I hope so. If they can, I think it would be amazing. But until they do, there’s other people to explore.”
As for Arizona, she’ll be throwing herself into work and focusing on curing Dr. Herman (Geena Davis) in what Rhimes calls a “really powerful, amazing and beautiful story” between the two characters.
“What’s super cool about that is after that huge, momentous occasion, for the next six episodes — which are the only ones I know — we have not focused on Arizona and Callie in their romantic aftermath,” Capshaw tells THR. “We’ve gotten to let the characters be separate but equal, and follow them in the other part of their life — at work — and explore their passions, sense of humor and friendships.”
Grey’s Anatomy and the rest of the TGIT lineup returns on Jan. 29 on ABC. Stay tuned to THR‘s The Live Feed for more of the TGIT scoop.
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