Shonda Rimes has always spearheaded inclusivity and equality in her shows, and the as-yet unnamed Grey’s Anatomy spinoff will continue that theme, bringing gender diversity to the male-dominated field of firefighting.
The show will depict a team of Seattle firefighters based a few blocks away from the Grey’s Anatomy hospital, following Grey’s Anatomy character Ben Warren (Jason George)’s transition from the field of surgery to firefighting. The fire team will feature three women, which interestingly genuinely reflects Seattle’s gender diversity in the field.
“Traditionally, there are far more men than women in the world of firefighting,”exec producer Stacy McKee said on a panel at TCA on Monday. “What’s amazing about our station and fantastic about Seattle in general is we have three awesome women who are very strong within our station itself, and some of them are in positions of power. But if you look at Seattle, it has one of the highest percentages in the nation of women in firefighting, so that was a really important aspect to me in thinking about setting the spinoff.”
Speaking on selecting a Latina lead in Jaine Lee Ortiz, Rimes firmly pointed out that diversity and equality is never shoehorned into her shows and is always an organic reflection of real world. “I understand that for other shows maybe, and for other people it’s a difficult thing for them to do, maybe because they don’t experience the world as a person of color,” she said. “But it’s not that difficult to do, to me, and it’s not a thing that I set out to do. I look around the world and I see lots of different people, I look around the acting world and I see lots of different people. We cast the world as I see it. I don’t think that’s a special thing to do, I think that’s a normal thing to do. I think what other people are doing is a little bit abnormal.”
For George, moving down the street to the firehouse was a helpful transition because he had already played the role for some years, plus he didn’t have to bid a final farewell to his Grey’s co-stars, since there will be some crossover. “There’s this emotional moment of saying goodbye to people and giving hugs, then also I realized I’ll be back in about two months, so I’m not leaving home entirely.”
Tonally, the show will have some factors that set it apart from Grey’s, for example a signature pre-cap. “We ended each act with a little bit of a pre-cap of the next act that’s coming up,” exec producer Paris Barclay said. But the show will definitely still feel like part of the Grey’s family. “It’s like having dinner at your uncle’s but your mother’s still cooking.”