Moved by Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Grey’s Anatomy explored consent with one of the medical drama’s most powerful episodes in its historic run.
Named after a Tori Amos song, “Silent All These Years,” the hour featured one of the most in-depth depictions of precisely how a rape kit is administered. The extended scenes in the episode — written by Grey’s Anatomy all-star Elisabeth Finch — were met with pushback from ABC’s Standards and Practices department.
In the below interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Finch and showrunner Krista Vernoff revealed that creator Shonda Rhimes pushed back and “declined” the network’s notes. In a rare and surprising decision, Standards and Practices reversed its stance — and saw the exec who flagged the scenes actually join the women who lined a hallway in support of a rape victim (guest star Khalilah Joi) who was carted off to surgery. The wall of women scene, which also featured many Grey’s Anatomy writers and Shondaland executives, was an incredible show of support rarely, if ever, seen before on a hospital drama. (Watch the moving scene, below.)
To hear Vernoff and Finch tell it, the episode was born out of the latter’s WGA-sponsored trip to UCLA’s Rape Treatment Center in which she observed first-hand the larger discussion around administering such a kit to rape victims.
The episode — the rare Grey’s installment that is driven first by an issue and not by character development — came together after star Camilla Luddington dialed up Vernoff the day of the Kavanaugh hearings and suggested that her character, Jo, be the product of rape. The series was already plotting to introduce Jo’s biological mother (guest star Michelle Forbes) who, as Grey’s diehards recall, abandoned her at a fire station.