The Importance of Grey’s Anatomy’s Mid-Season Opener

So, let’s talk about the return of Grey’s for a minute. Well, not so much the actual return, but the meaning behind the episode set to grace TV screens across America on January 18. The episode was formerly titled “Four Seasons in One Day,” and that raised questions. Time jumps? Weird natural disasters? But just yesterday, the ninth episode of season 14 got a new name: “1-800-799-7233.”

The new name was pitched to Krista Vernoff (Grey’s showrunner) by Giacomo Gianniotti (Andrew DeLuca), and I think we’re all glad it made the cut.

Now, what does this change in title mean? What meaning does it carry? Well, let’s break it down.

The new title is the phone number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The line is available 24/7, as are online chatrooms, for no cost. That also means they rely on donations to continue. A $20 donation covers the total cost of what could be one life-saving phone call. On the website, you will also find content explaining the different types of abuse, and downloadable materials including a personal safety plan.

I saw some people on Twitter acting upset by the name change because it didn’t follow the Grey’s tradition of song titles for episodes, and if you’re one of those people reading this, you can rest easy. It is a song. You can listen to it here on Spotify. And pay attention to the lyrics. You might learn something.

JESSICA CAPSHAW, CAMILLA LUDDINGTON
(ABC/Richard Cartwright) JESSICA CAPSHAW, CAMILLA LUDDINGTON

So, now you know what that phone number is and what it does. But why is it relevant? Why does it matter?

It matters because nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. That is more than 10 million women and men every year. It matters because there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines every day nationwide. It matters because 1 in 4 women will be victims of physical violence by an intimate partner within her lifetime. It matters.

*All statistics taken from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence fact sheet

It also matters because we’re about to watch Jo Wilson face her abuser. This kind of storyline is one that you don’t mess with. If you’re going to do it, you better do it right. And I have no doubt that everyone at Grey’s has spent hours upon hours researching and talking to survivors and ensuring that what we, as fans, see on screen is believable and accurate and not over-fantasized. Because if it is over-fantasized, it helps nothing and no one. And I know that is not their intention.

Tackling massive social issues is nothing new for Shondaland, and it’s because of that, that I’m confident in them succeeding with this one. We’ve seen Shondaland deal with rape, suicide, abortion, and a slew of other topics with grace, poise and sincerity that not many can compete with. I have no doubt that this storyline of domestic violence will be no different.

Make sure to come back next week for my review of the episode and thoughts on the execution of this storyline. And don’t miss the mid-season premier of Grey’s Anatomy at 8:00 EST on Thursday, 1/18 on ABC!

xoxo,
J

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