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7 things this season of 'Grey's Anatomy' is doing right

As season 10 of Grey’s Anatomy came to a close, Cristina Yang looked at Meredith Grey and said, “He’s not the sun. You are.” Then die-hard fans leaned into their televisions through tear-filled eyes and screamed, “NO, YOU ARE, CRISTINA!” And then the season was over.

Without the lovably crass half of the show’s true love story, a lot of fans were skeptical of how season 11 might turn out. Now that the first eight episodes of a 24-episode season (!!) have aired, there’s enough material to finally assess: is a Grey’s world without Cristina really a world worth living in? The short answer is … yes.

Shonda and company made some bold moves through the first stretch of season 11 that sparked some memories from the past, mysteries of the present, and motives for the future that prove exactly why Grey’s Anatomy is still the cornerstone of the #TGIT trinity.

7. “Only Mama Knows”

Kate Burton as Ellis Grey

In a season where such a big hole was left by an original character’s departure, viewers needed a reminder of what Grey’s Anatomy was really about, and “Only Mama Knows” took a lot of loose strings from seasons past and knotted them all up together (because nothing is ever tied up neatly in Seattle). The fourth episode of the season did what Grey’s does best—told a damn good story. The parallels between Ellis and Meredith were outstanding, and it painted Ellis in a more vulnerable light than we’ve ever seen the surgeon in before. This was one of Grey’s best hours in the past four or five seasons.

6. Alex is actually doing okay

Honestly, if anyone has earned a spot in the “let’s take a break” category, it’s Alex. After seasons of nearly failing out of the program or getting shot or having Smash from Friday Night Lights butcher your dad in surgery, it’s time that Alex Karev gets a major break. Sure, he lost the seat on the board to Bailey after Cristina practically willed it to him, but if you had to lose a duel on Grey’s, wouldn’t you rather it be to Bailey than to anyone else? Because of Arizona’s new fellowship, Alex has the opportunity to rise up and really own the pediatrics department. He’s Meredith’s closest bet to Cristina, and in the midst of it all, he still has Jo, who has yet to “go crazy, or get cancer, or get shot by a gunman …”. You get the drift.

5. Amelia is no longer Derek’s sister guest-starring on the show

For me, Amelia didn’t fit in the end of last season. I was wary that she would never quite “get there,” but she did. After the first eight episodes, she is becoming an integral part of the cast. Placing her against Derek, as opposed to beside him, has strengthened her character and helped her to stand on her own. And it gives poor Owen a potential person in the wake of Cristina making an exit. The last half of the season could get really interesting for Amelia.

4. Derek finally left for D.C.

Meredith tells Derek to leave for D.C.

There are probably hordes of viewers who are furious that Meredith and Derek are “broken up.” There are also probably hordes of viewers who are tired of seeing something drive these two apart, but ultimately this was one of the most necessary things to happen on the show. Last season, Meredith was dealt a bit of a wake-up call—she is a mother and a wife and a surgeon (a talented surgeon at that). On the other hand, Derek has been a great surgeon for a while. For Derek and Meredith to understand how to work together, they have to be separate for a while.

3. Ellis Grey, Ellis Grey, Ellis Grey

When Sally Langston lost her run for presidency last season on Scandal, we all hoped that would mean the return of Ellis Grey in some fashion. Little did we know that Kate Burton would be coming back in such a big way. The introduction of Maggie meant that we had to get some more Ellis, and it’s an Ellis that Grey’s fans have never seen before. We hadn’t really gotten to see the turmoil of Ellis and Richard’s relationship and what it means on a personal level. This season has used the talent of Kate Burton and added a whole new layer to the character. We knew Ellis was troubled, but it’s a whole other animal when you get to look inside.

2. Arizona and Callie are finished … for now.

Callie and Arizona break up

It needed to happen—that’s all there is to it. As one of the most beloved relationships on the show, Calzona just wasn’t working. It wasn’t working for a very, very long time. If you try to trace it back, you could argue that the child debacle mid–Gary Clark shooting spree was the beginning. Ultimately, this was the doomed tale of two amazing women who might just not be amazing for each other. Kudos to Sara Ramirez and Jessica Capshaw for a beautifully acted Calzona-centric episode in “Bend and Break.” When Callie said, “I want you to feel free too,” it was apparent that, for now, Callie and Arizona just weren’t meant to happen.

1. Maggie Pierce is not Cristina Yang at all.

No one wanted another Cristina, and we didn’t get one at all. No one wanted another Lexie Grey, and we didn’t get one of those either. Maggie Pierce is a lot of strange, quirky things, but if she’s anything, she’s her own character. She’s the kind of surgeon who completes crossword puzzles and finishes school annoyingly early and has singing telegrams sent to her from her adoptive parents. Underneath the hodgepodge of oddities that have introduced us to Maggie, there’s a deeply complex character who doesn’t need a father in Chief Webber or a sister in Meredith Grey. She’s just trying to be a cardiothoracic surgeon without getting too banged up along the way. But there’s no way she’s getting out that easily. This is, after all, Grey’s Anatomy.

Grey’s Anatomy resumes Thursday, Jan. 29, at 8/7C on ABC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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