January 26, 2022

The world A.D.: After Derek

April 23, 2015: a day that will live in infamy. The day Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepard left this earth. Grey’s Anatomy creator, Shonda Rhimes, did the unthinkable – she killed off the world’s most handsome neurosurgeon. Over nine million viewers mourned the death of McDreamy. Some of us took it harder than others.

Grey’s Anatomy has always been filled with heartbreaking storylines, but the show has become even darker after Derek’s death. April and Jackson get divorced, Jo and Alex (the only couple left on the show worth giving a crap about) break up, Callie and Arizona have a nasty custody battle, Meredith is brutally attacked by a patient and Ben Warren is negligent and kills a pregnant patient and her baby. However, Derek’s devastating death has affected much more than just the lives within Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital.

The world has faced all sorts of misery and despair since April 23, 2015. Here are a few examples.

January 2016 – Dairy Queen removes corn dogs from their menu
Before episode 241 of Grey’s Anatomy, we were able to enjoy a corn dog made with, not turkey, not chicken, but a real beef frank from the classic ice cream shop. Encapsulated in a perfect batter and cooked to a crisp, it complimented a Pumpkin Pie Blizzard elegantly. It made us feel like the state fair lasted year-round, except for the price we can easily pay by picking up the spare change off the floor of our car. We never imagined that one day DQ corn dogs would no longer be around. We thought of them like we thought of Derek Shepard, the man who survived a shooting and a plane crash – invincible. However, just as Derek disappeared from that operating room, corn dogs disappeared from that drive-thru menu.

November 3, 2015 – Twitter replaces favorites with likes
It’s too bad all my sedatives were consumed the night of Derek’s death, since I had none left come November when I needed to be sedated once again. Yep, on November 3, 2015, Twitter killed off favorites just like Shonda killed off McDreamy. It’s garbage. What is this “like” nonsense? Facebook?

What am I supposed to do now when my ex-boyfriend blatantly plagiarizes a tweet that I posted a month prior? A favorite symbolized, “HEY bro, I saw that. I know what you did. And you will not get away with being a slimy copycat.” But a LIKE? Making that little stupid pink heart light up is basically saying, “Oh wow, yes, how insightful, I’ve never thought of that before. What a completely original thought. I completely agree.” Um, no. I don’t want to say that. I’m not going to like that.

As if watching Derek get hit by an oncoming semi after saving the lives of victims of a car accident on the side of the road wasn’t bad enough – Twitter decided to give us one more blow to the gut the day they stopped giving us the option to simply acknowledge something.

July 2015 – My friend Hannah moves to Wyoming
Do I think that the negligent doctors at the nearby hospital who mistakenly rushed Derek into surgery after his car accident instead of giving him a CT scan has anything to do with one of my blonde best friends moving 600 miles away to the land of nothing, also known as Wyoming?

You bet I do.

Hannah and I used boxes of wine and tissues to numb the pain that April night when we watched Meredith pull the plug on her brain-dead husband after the semi accident. Three months later, Hannah packed up her bags and moved to Wyoming. THREE MONTHS. You could blame it on the fact that she got married and her husband’s job sent them to that desolate state. But no, when it comes to placing blame – I’m looking at you, Shonda Rhimes.

February 4, 2016 – Subway gets rid of $5 footlongs
Flashback: It’s 2007. The denim mini skirts with cropped leggings trend is thriving. The first iPhone is released. The best Grey’s Anatomy episode of all time aired. (Season three finale: George is still alive, Adele has a miscarriage and Richard cares for her, Derek is selected as Chief of Surgery, Alex is in love with Ava, we find out Lexi is a Grey, Burke leaves Cristina at the altar and we all hyperventilate and cry as Meredith cuts off Cristina’s wedding dress with scissors as “Keep Breathing,” by Ingrid Michaelson plays in the background.) But most importantly, it’s 2007 and we can get a footlong turkey breast sub with all the veggies and light mayo for five freaking dollars. What a wonderful time to be alive.

Flash forward nine years. Leggings now are sold through online Facebook parties that only come in obnoxious prints. The iPhone emoji game has gone downhill. Cristina, Burke and Izzie are no longer on Grey’s Anatomy. George, Adele, Lexi, Mark and Derek are dead. Lastly, that delicious toasted turkey sub that you once were able to buy with a piece of paper with Abe Lincoln’s face on it now costs you…six dollars.

We expected Derek Shepard to live as long as that catchy Subway jingle would play in our heads: forever. However, it’s now clear that nothing lasts forever. As Ingrid would say, “all we can do is keep breathing.”

November 2016 – Taylor Swift doesn’t release an album
Taylor Swift and Grey’s Anatomy go way back. Probably back to 2006 during the season two finale. I imagine young Taylor sitting cross-legged on her living room floor in her light blue and white polka dotted pajama pants, tears streaming down her delicate face and dripping into her bowl of popcorn as she watches Alex carry Izzie’s prom dress clad body off her dead fiancé’s (Denny Duquette) body. Yes, I am able to imagine young Taylor engrossed in the show because the young pop goddess has made her fortune by trying to seem relatable to hopeless romantic teenage girls. Imagination aside, T-Swift and Grey’s Anatomy have actually had ties since September 2008 when an acoustic version of “White Horse” was featured on the fifth season premiere.

There are other ties connecting the pop princess and the Emmy Award-winning show. Does Taylor really draw on her own life experiences for her music, or does she write songs about Grey’s Anatomy plotlines? For example, was “Shake It Off” really inspired by the media criticizing Taylor for her dating habits? Or was Taylor simply inspired by Cristina and Meredith getting tequila drunk and “dancing it out” on tables? Was “You Belong With Me” really about the neighbor boy with the worn-out jeans? Or was it inspired by Meredith’s famous words to Derek, “pick me, choose me, love me,” when his beautiful, sophisticated, probably former cheer captain, wife at the time, shows up? Lastly, who is Taylor referring to in that sexy tune, “Wildest Dreams?” Who is “so tall and handsome as hell?” Derek, duh.

Another connection? Taylor named one of her cats after one of her favorite fictional surgeons – Meredith Grey. Also, Ellen Pompeo, who plays Meredith, starred in Tay’s #girlssquad in her “Bad Blood” music video. Besties. And tweets from January 2015 tell us that Shonda Rhimes and Tay are besties as well.

Or they were besties, anyway. For the last ten years, ever since her career began, Taylor has released an album in October or early November every two years. Her debut album, Taylor Swift was released in 2006. Fearless – 2008. Speak Now – 2010. Red – 2012. 1989 – 2014. Yet here we are in November of 2016 with no new Taylor Swift album.

It’s not that she has a lack of drama to write about. Between the Calvin Harris and Tom Hiddleston breakups, she has plenty of poppy snide jabs to dish out. Plus, we’ve all been anxiously waiting for “Better Than Revenge Part II” in response to all the Kim K and Kanye drama. But guess what? It’s not going to happen. Taylor has not released an album since Derek was alive. No Derek Shepard = no new Taylor Swift. Taylor is pissed about that season 11 plot twist and this is her way of letting the world know. So what’s the real reason we haven’t been blessed with a new album this fall? Taylor and Shonda have some bad blood.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015 – Fred Hoiberg leaves Iowa State
Could the death of a beloved fictional character really be the cause of Fred “the Mayor” Hoiberg leaving his position as the head coach of the Iowa State men’s basketball team? Correlation does not equal causation, but let’s look at the facts:

A mere 40 days after Derek Shepard was blindsided by semi going full speed, Cyclone fans everywhere felt a similar pain when Fred Hoiberg was announced as the new head coach of the Chicago Bulls. Forty. Days.

Fred Hoiberg and Derek Shepard are not all that different. One was highly respected in the league. One was highly respected in the field of medicine. The coach who once was a childhood ball boy at Hilton and a star at Ames High resurrected Iowa State’s men’s basketball program, bringing in back-to-back Big 12 Tournament titles, four appearances at the NCAA tournament, a trip to the Sweet Sixteen and a total of 115 wins during his five years at Iowa State. One man was responsible for five years of Hilton Magic and the other was responsible for numerous complicated and risky, yet successful, procedures, including a stand-still operation, two double-barrel brain bypasses and the separation surgery for adult conjoined twins.

Why did Hoiberg leave? Was it because he was offered $25 million to go coach the team that he played on for four of his ten seasons in the NBA? Or was it his way of dealing with the grief of the death of a character who coined the phrase, “It’s a beautiful day to save lives,” whose own life could not be saved? It’s not for me to say. But regardless, within 40 days, both McDreamy and Coach Dreamy left fans everywhere mourning their absence.

. . .

That heartbreaking plot twist on April 23, 2015 resulted in much more than just leaving Meredith Grey as a grieving widow and single mother of three children. It resulted in a death sentence for the Great Barrier Reef, the infidelity in Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck’s marriage, the fact that we have to pay for Hulu now, the death of Joan Rivers, Matt Bellassai’s departure from Buzzfeed, and yes – this disaster of an election. That’s right, less than two months after Derek died, Donald Trump began his presidential campaign. The death of Derek Shepard has clearly spun this world into utter chaos and there’s no returning from it – but we now know what to blame for it.

Dana Melcher 13 Articles
Former Staff Writer

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