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Grey’s Anatomy‘s Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek (Patrick Dempsey) have been through the wringer. For the past season and a half, the longtime (and fan-favorite) couple has struggled to find themselves on the same page at the same time.
Everything started in season 10 when Derek was approached by the president for a brain-mapping job that would have taken him from Seattle to Washington, D.C. Meredith, thanks in part to Cristina’s (Sandra Oh) feedback, eventually puts her foot down and says she has no plans to uproot their lives — and two children — to make the move, opting not to sacrifice her career for his.
This season, their clashes have continued after Derek turned down the president’s offer to stay in Seattle with his wife and two children. The decision didn’t go over well with Meredith, and subsequent episodes have seen Derek lash out at kid sister Amelia (Caterina Scorsone), who wound up with his job as the head of neuro at Grey Sloan Memorial.
The Hollywood Reporter hit the Hollywood set of Grey’s Anatomy and asked Dempsey and Pompeo to offer marriage advice to their respective characters.
“I think when it’s any relationship — whether it’s romantic or friendship — you have to take ego out of it,” Pompeo tells THR. “Ego is enemy No. 1 and sometimes I think it’s a tricky balance — not between work and a relationship but between ego and drive. How much ego do you have? How much drive do you have? And how much drive can you have with as little ego as possible? I think that’s something everybody should strive for: drive without ego.”
Dempsey, on the other hand, believes Meredith and Derek are suffering from having too much going on and being forced to juggle what it means to truly have it all: a good marriage, happy children and a thriving career.
“The conflict is in the battle of what is going on individually with them: What they’re sacrificing, what their choices are and how to juggle all those things,” he says. “That is something that is universal. Most contemporary couples and professionals try to have a family and do it all, and it’s very challenging. How does that compound the relationship? Do they grow apart or do they grow together? Is it a destructive thing. Do they ultimately have to get out from under the destruction that has occurred? Can they? How does that affect their children? How do the children behave? How does it affect them at work? There’s a lot that’s going on that I think people could really relate to and identify with.”
See more ‘Grey’s Anatomy’s’ Famous Departures
As for what will happen going forward, Dempsey thinks that something may have to give if Meredith and Derek are going to move beyond the D.C. flap that continues to see Derek struggling to move beyond his decision to pass on the once-in-a-career opportunity.
“There’s a tremendous amount of ego and with two professionals who have competitive personalities. It’s hard,” he says. “Who gives up? Who sacrifices? And how does that affect their relationships and their children? There’s a lot of material there for the writers to mine. It will be interesting to see what the writers choose to go after.”
Grey’s Anatomy airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.
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