“Station 19” is about to hit an enormous milestone, however it’s bittersweet.

Simply three days into manufacturing on Season 7 of the “Gray’s Anatomy” spinoff, as plans for a celebratory one hundredth episode had been starting to develop, new showrunners Peter Paige and Zoanne Clack discovered that the present had been canceled. Season 7 can be its final, tasking them with not solely ushering the present into a brand new period, but in addition to a satisfying ending. They weren’t ready. 

“I used to be sitting on the ground in my underwear, writing,” Paige tells Selection. Clack provides, “I used to be on a panel in entrance of 100 folks getting fixed cellphone calls, attempting to play it off. I didn’t hear what the precise information was till after the panel.” 

“Station 19” premiered in March 2018, halfway by Season 14 of “Gray’s Anatomy.” A backdoor pilot launched Meredith Gray (Ellen Pompeo) to her firefighting equal Andy Herrera (Jaina Lee Ortiz), however the thread between the 2 exhibits was Ben Warren (Jason George), the career-hopping husband of Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson). Being a surgeon was now not satisfying to him, so he determined to attempt firefighting. In Seattle, firefighters are additionally licensed paramedics, which means his medical coaching wouldn’t go to waste, however he can be ranging from the underside of the ladder, so to talk. 

Andy, in the meantime, had a legacy to stay as much as. Her father Pruitt (Miguel Sandoval) was the captain of “Station 19,” and whereas he cherished his daughter, he was robust on her. His demise in Season 3 propelled her ambitions: she would ultimately turn into captain, incomes that job the proper approach, with no particular favors. Lastly, within the Season 6 finale, she obtained the brand new title, simply in time to assist her personal workforce cope with a dance flooring collapsing beneath them, crushing buddies and enemies alike. Her promotion was such an essential second for the sequence that Clack and Paige virtually saved it for the upcoming one hundredth episode, together with a couple of different wild concepts. 

“We now have two characters who’re half-Korean, and we talked about taking the present to Korea,” Paige says. “Frankly, due to the strikes and the timelines, we didn’t have the thought in sufficient time to make it occur … however then we cooked up one thing that I feel is even higher.” 

The forged, crew and inventive workforce behind “Station 19” gathered on set in Los Angeles to commemorate 100 episodes of the high-action drama.

With the milestone episode, “we wished to essentially honor the present and the ambiance of the present, and the whole lot round it,” Clack provides. “We needed to actually pump up our pondering and suppose outdoors the
field a bit extra.” 

The episode airing April 11 is filled with each celebrations and challenges and brings issues full circle, says Ortiz. She’s so grateful to have made it to 100, however it’s a quantity that additionally makes her really feel “slightly outdated.” Her knees and her again aren’t the identical as they as soon as had been, as a result of, whereas the fires may not be actual, the gear remains to be heavy — a relentless reminder that being a firefighter is a bodily demanding job, and never all can deal with or survive it. That is very true on the present, the place all people dangers their life virtually each time they go to work.

Whereas Andy hasn’t fairly reached Meredith Gray ranges of trauma, she’s actually been by it. Her finest buddy died, then her father died, and her marriage fell aside on account of dependancy. Plus, she found her “useless” mom was truly not useless. A lot of what she’s handled is basic melodrama, however a few of it has hit Ortiz exhausting — particularly since she misplaced her mom in 2019. 

“It was considerably of a cathartic expertise, having to grieve my mom and never solely be given the time to course of it, but in addition be allowed to work by my character as her mother comes again into her life and [she deals] with the lack of her dad,” Ortiz says. “It undoubtedly has helped make it simpler. I’m endlessly grateful to our writers and our showrunners previous and current who’ve made the trouble to dig deep into our private lives in order that the characters can come extra to life.” 

Ortiz, Paige and Clack agree that “Station 19” is at its finest when it’s as genuine as attainable. Not one of the stars have ever executed any actual firefighting, however all of them know what it’s prefer to stay on the planet the present is attempting to painting.

“Individuals suppose they’re watching a hearth present,” Paige says. “However they’re actually watching a present about girls and Black, brown and queer folks navigating techniques that aren’t essentially arrange for them to succeed.” 

Clack, who has labored on and round “Gray’s Anatomy” as a producer and medical marketing consultant since 2006, has at all times made it her mission to seamlessly fold social justice points and public well being messages into the present’s material, so they’re “very a lot entrenched into the leisure of the present, and never finger-wagging or telling folks what they should suppose.”

“Station 19” has weathered many ups and downs over time as showrunners and actors have come and gone, however Ortiz considers the seismic occasions of 2020 — the worldwide well being pandemic and demise of George Floyd — to be a turning level. The entire world’s view of frontline employees modified, and so did the present.

In Season 5, then-executive producer Krista Vernoff launched each real-world developments “into our storyline, and it allowed all of the actors an opportunity to talk up about their identification,” Ortiz says. “This was a possibility that we by no means actually had prior to now, and so as a result of our present is likely one of the most numerous exhibits on the market, we had a bunch of various experiences and opinions, and it opened up so many extra conversations.” 

For the primary time, Ortiz felt like she might actually symbolize her Latin tradition in a approach she hadn’t been capable of earlier than, connecting her and her fellow castmates to their characters in a complete new approach. 

“I feel as a result of we lived it, that made us that rather more grateful for what we had,” she says.

Clack factors out that identification is the important thing to not solely “Station 19,” however the ongoing episodes of “Gray’s Anatomy,” the present that quietly birthed it and not too long ago returned for its twentieth season.

“Within the first few seasons, it was sufficient for viewers to see a Black chief of surgical procedure or a Black cardiothoracic surgeon, a Latina orthopedic surgeon, and so they simply lived their lives being what they had been,” she says. “However as society has progressed and as ‘Gray’s’ has progressed, it’s turn into extra of what their expertise is as an individual of coloration and the way does that mirror in how they deal with folks or handle their lives.” 

The centennial episode of “Station 19” will air quickly, however the present’s legacy will stay past that because the little hearth engine that would.

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