« From Mimi Schmir, writer of "Let it Be" | Main | From Gabrielle Stanton & Harry Werksman, writers of "Much Too Much" »

From Shonda Rhimes, creator and writer of "Thanks For The Memories"

Episode Airdate: 11/20/05

So, Thanksgiving.

Writing this episode was a bit of an exercise in torture for me. Don’t get me wrong – it was fun. It’s always fun. But for the first time, the majority of our interns are outside the hospital. Which meant figuring out a way to have medical cases without having “medical cases”. How was I going to have patients? You need patients on a medical show. That’s why they call it a medical show. So I sulked. Then I lay on the floor of my office for a while and thought about running away to Italy. Then I opened my office door and told everyone that I would never write again and that my career was over. Then I ate a lot of candy. And then I came up with an idea. Enter…the turkeys.

I like to call them Turkey One and Turkey Two.

Turkey One is the bird that Burke and Izzie spend the day cooking. Did you watch the pilot episode? If you did, then you know that Burke talks George through an appendectomy. It's a pivotal scene for me, as it was the very first scene I envisioned when creating this show –- it’s essentially what started the show, the idea of one poor surgeon being labeled as “007.” That scene is called back, almost word for word, in the Thanksgiving episode. Joe and Walter bet on Izzie’s moves, Burke yells “Suction!” and, for the first time on our show, we play a song that we’ve already used before. Yep, it’s the same song from the pilot episode (a great tune by The O.A.O.T’s). What made me happy about Turkey One was that it gave us an opportunity to explore a relationship that had never really been explored on our show – Burke and Izzie. In writing the episode, I discovered how much of a gentleman Burke really is. Out of kindness, he takes over this potential turkey-making disaster and finds a way to bond with Izzie. Which tells us a couple of things about him:

1.) that he can make himself at home anywhere

and

2.) that he is in love with Cristina.

Because why else would he do what he does on Thanksgiving? He loves her, pure and simple. And no one can tell me otherwise. I do wonder if they’ll make it as a couple. Because, I gotta tell you, it killed me to write that Cristina would rather spend the day in the operating room than with Burke. But it was the truth and I had no choice. Just like I had no choice but to let Derek choose Addison. People will tell you I had a choice but I didn’t. Really. I promise. I’m sorry. The characters made me do it! I’M SORRY ALREADY!

Ahem.

On to Turkey Two. Turkey Two is the turkey that George is forced to hunt with family. I really wanted to show more family stuff in this episode because we all have families and, while we all love our families, much of the holiday time spent with our families is ruined by a lot of crap we should have gotten over when we were kids but did not. For George, that’s the idea that he’s always felt like an outsider. You can see George as a kid, can’t you? He’s the one reading a book while his brothers and Dad are watching monster truck rallies. He’s the one winning challenges with the Mathletes while his brothers are lettering in football. George is the runt of the litter and the runt of the litter always ends up feeling like the outsider. What was most important to me, though, was showing the flip side of George’s hostility. As much of an outsider as he is in their life, they are in his life. Which is what made the “Pick a Car” speech his Dad gives so nice, I think. They don’t know how to talk to him, they know he thinks they're stupid, they know he’s in a world they’ll never be in. But they try. So why can’t he? I love seeing this side of George. So much of his personality is explained in this episode. He’s a science geek raised in a family of hunting, shooting, car-talking men’s men. How could he turn out any other way? I love the moment where George is loading the truck at high speed and he takes a moment to laugh with his celebrating brothers. Because the moment his brothers turn away, George’s face turns deadly serious. He wants out of there in the worst kind of way. This is pure misery for him on a real level. Kinda makes you almost sorry you laughed at his syphilis. Almost. But not quite.

Let’s talk about Alex. He played a small but pivotal part in this episode. I like to create moments for him and Meredith. Because, in my head, they are very similar people. Even though Alex can be such an ass, even though he’s arrogant, even though he gave George the Syph. He and Meredith are both lost, both lonely, both former screw-ups who got their acts together. In another lifetime, they would be really good friends. So throughout the season, we watch them pause from time to time to look at each other and see that they are mirrors of one another.

In a lot of ways, this is really Bailey’s episode. I came up with this story line because, every once in a while, someone will meet me and underestimate me. I’m fairly round, I wear a lot of pink, I tend to forget how to talk when I’m nervous – people tend to ignore me. Which, let me tell you, pisses me off. And I thought about how that must happen to someone like Bailey all the time. She’s short, she’s cuddly cute and she doesn’t say much to strangers – she doesn’t look like you’d assume a hot shot “Nazi” surgeon would look. So the fact that this guy would assume the Nazi is a man, that Bailey might be stupid, that he can talk to her like she’s an intern…well, let the fireworks begin. What I love is that Bailey (who always lets people have it – here in the writers’ building, we call them “Bailey’s Arias”) never lets this guy have it. All she says is “Happy Thanksgiving”. And that’s more biting than any aria she could deliver.

And, oh yes, the Mer/Der of it all. I love this couple. LOVE. LOOOOOOVE. I love watching them together, I love imagining what they will say to one another, I love watching McDreamy be McDreamier than I ever McDreamed he could be. LOVE. So it’s been a little hard on me what with him choosing Addison and leaving Meredith behind. I have been suffering. (Yeah, yeah, I know it was my idea but still…can I not hurt?) What I needed was a bit of closure. A bit of a sense that Meredith was gonna be okay. And a sense that Derek would never be the same for having lost her. So, to get all metaphorical, Holden -- the sleeping patient -- is Meredith. She’s the one who woke up to find that everyone has moved on without her. She’s the one trying to figure out how to get through this. There’s that moment at the end where she tells Derek that it is good that he’s trying, that if he didn’t try, he wouldn’t be the guy she fell in love with. And she’s got these glittering tears in her eyes. She’s dying inside but she’s right. If he didn’t try to make his marriage work, he wouldn’t be McDreamy. I tried to find a way around that but that’s a fact. McDreamy would try. McDreamy would do everything he could. But she also asks Derek if he loves Addison. And Derek says “I don’t know.” Which gives us a little bit of hope. You hear that? We have a bit of hope. Okay, not hope for next week’s episode because I saw in the promos that Meredith might be kissing someone else but eventually…all my fingers and toes are crossed. Keep hope alive.

About Addison…Maybe you can try to feel a little sorry for her? See how hard she’s trying? See how much she’s suffering for her mistake? Give the woman a chance. She didn’t mean to show up and bust up our Mer/Der love. Okay, maybe she did but still…she’s a good person. And she’s no longer wearing the salmon colored scrubs.

Last thing: our bartender, Joe. Joe is gay. Now, I knew Joe was gay this whole time. I’ve known Joe was gay since I wrote his first lines. Joe has always been gay. What I wanted to do was let Joe be gay without it being a “thing”. Without having a very special coming out episode of Grey’s Anatomy. I hate "very special" episodes of things. So instead of being very special, I made it as “unspecial” as possible. Here’s Joe, here’s Joe’s boyfriend. Whatever. Moving on. It’s one piece of who Joe is as a person. There are more pieces. You’ll learn about them. In time.

Okay, I’ve rambled on and on and on. Go eat your turkey. Go be with your families and friends. Thank you for watching the show.

And Happy Thanksgiving.

Comments

Vicky

All I've got to say is....
I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!
Great Show, great episode, great music, great writing.
Keep it way up.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Natalie

Awww I loved this entry and I LOVED this episode. Despite it being sad for Mer/Der, I'm so glad that Meredith had a tiny bit of closure. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let them come back together, and don't make them on and off like Ross and Rachel!!! I could not agree more with you about all the wonderfulness of Mer/Der, and we need more of it- or at least more hope! Please, and especially by the end of the season! This perfect couple was the first reason I watched the show, and I'm completely invested in their relationship.

This show is a lifesaver. I love it more than life itself. I know my week and all my friends' week revolves around Sunday night! Don't let us down! And YOU have a Happy Thanksgiving too!!!
I know I will, since I'm always thankful for Grey's.

bethp

Dear Miss Rhimes,I officially hate you for getting me into tears on that "goodbye Derek" bench scene.And i hate myself for loving GA...somebody sedate me!!!

flux

That bench scene broke my heart. To see Meredith give up the guy she loves and tell him it's okay that he should go back to his wife.

Cori

Great entry Shondra :)! I thought the Thanksgiving episode was great, although, it was REALLY hard to watch Derek kiss Addison :|. I'm glad you said there is hope for Der/Mer in the future!!!!!!!!!! Please don't let us down!!!

Liz

I can't watch your show any more. It brings me so down.
My life is difficult enough, I really need an escape. It used to be fun but now its just too hard to watch people suffer.

You are brilliant! Keep it going. We live for Sunday nights:))

SarahH

Interesting - I love to read these blogs to get the writer's perspective. This is an absolutely fantastic show! I have never been so addicted to a TV show - I'm an early 40s professional with three boys (20, 17 and 10) and for one magical hour on Sunday night I feel like I'm in college again! I'm surprised to read that you thought Holden represented Meredith, because I thought he represented Derek. Derek had been asleep all the years before he met Meredith and she brought him back to life just like she was the one Holden responded to when he was "waking." I do see the other side as well - Holden hopes his son comes back to him and Meredith (and many, many viewers) hopes Derek comes back to her, but realizes she now has to move on and let Derek go. Two things I would have really liked to have seen: 1) Meredith going to see her Mother - that is her obligation, just as Addison is Derek's obligation; and 2)Derek at some point SOON apoligizing to Meredith for making her feel so bad and draging her into his messy life. She feels bad and she has no reason to - she didn't know he was maried when she fell in love with him. I think McDreamy won't really be McDreamy unitl he apologizes to her. Just like trying with Addison, this is something he would do. Even if Derek and Meredith are apart, PLEASE don't ignore the true love they share - it won't go away. I may not agree with you that you have no choice - even in the show Meredith says hapiness is all about the choices we make - but I will always watch!

Ali

"Thanks for the Memories" was such a great episode. I loved the fact that Burke and Izzie had that connection, a friendly kind of intimacy. And it definitely did show that Burke loves Izzie because who wants a guy that doesn't get along with your friends? Plus, his "I'm not getting up from the table until the hostess does" line was fantastic. It showed depth, respect, and that he is such a gentleman. Loved it.

As for George, he's the youngest. I can relate to his feelings of being an outsider because I'm the youngest, too. Sometimes, we all feel like we don't fit in with our families; however, that doesn't make it okay to stop trying--and I think that we (the viewers) learned that from George. Plus, his whole "Are you happy now? You shot Dad in the ass!" line/speech to his brother made me laugh so hard. He's got some very funny lines.

As for Bailey, she is my hero. I can relate to her, too; people often overlook me because of the way I look (and because I can be soft-spoken). I thought the way her character handled the fill-in surgeon was perfect. He sure felt like an idiot and she didn't have to lift so much as a finger. The look on his face when he realized that she was the Nazi--priceless. And Shonda? I often forget how to talk when I'm nervous--you're not the only one. :)

As for the Mer/Der saga, their interactions were amazing in this episode. From the "I don't want to argue with you anymore" (and his subsequent turning around to talk about the patient), to their coma-patient talk, to the bench scene--it was perfect. As much as it kills me that Meredith and Derek are not together (and it does kill me!), that bench scene was something to love. They are two people who respect each other, who care immensely about each other; that conversation conveyed so much. There's hope in the fact that Derek doesn't know if he loves Addison (by the way, I have the image of the Derek/Addison kiss seared into my cornea--and not in a good way. I just can't warm up to her character. She stayed in Seattle for all the wrong reasons--like the Chief's offer!). Also, the way that Derek answered Meredith, when she said that it was good he was trying--"You think so?"--you could really feel the angst in the way he spoke. He isn't sure. And it hurts him not to be with Meredith. Great dialogue and fantastic acting.

Okay, I've rambled enough...I could write for pages about this show's brilliance and what I love about it. But there's a turkey to thaw and a pumpkin pie I hope I don't burn. :) Happy Turkey Day!

Alyssa M.

I loved this episode. I enjoyed seeing everyone out of the hospital. It really made them more human. I laughed in the first half and cried like a sissy for the second half. Bailey and the Natzi thing kept me in stitches. I have to tell you that Sunday night is Grey's night at my house. My sisters and girlfriends come over just so we can watch Grey together. We cry, scream at the TV, and we analize the spoiler for next week to death. I must admit, we don't think McDreamy is looking to Dreamy lately. Please do not let us wait too long to get them back together. Every week we swear we are not watching this show anymore. But, we always come back for more. We do have one suggestion. When Bailey does give birth, please do not let it be tramatic. Let us cry HAPPY tears for once, like we know we will when Derek comes to his senses, it's killing us. Keep up the good work, we love your show!!!!

I'm really glad that there is hope for meredith and derek. Please do not make this a Ross and Rachel relationship. I will seriously go mad if we have to wait 10 years for Mer and Der to get back together. Hopefully there will be more little moments between them even if they aren't back together yet. I just love the wasy McDreamy looks at Meredith. I especially loved the scene when Meredith is walking away after their talk on the bench and Derek just sits there watching her.

I can't wait for next weeks episode. I really hope we see signs of Derek's jealousy over the one night stand guy

Kendel

HEY!! I love this show. I live in a dorm and like 20 of us pile into the lounge (waiting not so patiently for Despeate Housewives to end) and spend an hour freaking out over how good this show is, and then spend the week analysising the episode to death (plus someone always tapes it so we watch it a fe more times, just so we don't miss anything).

At the end of the thanksgiving episode we let out a cheer for Addison and Derek. We love them. Not at first of course, we may have spent the entire summer hating Addison, but after seeing the Shepherd's together (lord, the chemistry in the nursery, the biting remarks) we started to realize that maybe Meredith and Derek really weren't right for each other in the long run. They'll probably always be attracted to each other but I think that once Meredith finds another guy people will be like Derek who. Think the Dawson/Joey/Pacey saga on Dawson's Creek.

In any case Grey's can do no wrong in my eye's.

Allie

Ooh I loved this episode! I especially loved the end, when Derek kissed Addison. People hate me for being an Addy fan, but what can I say? She's gorgeous, funny, and a great person. Keep up the awesome episodes! Sunday is officially my favorite day of the week.

Shonna

Thank you for this show - this gift that cleanses me from a world where the likes of "Desperate Housefrau" can be so popular - save me from apples and serpents, puh-leeze! I am hopelessly addicted to Grey's Anatomy and it never ceases to happen that after an episode ends, I just smile to myself and say, "I effing LOVE this show!"
So, again, thank you so much for this gift, a bit of humanity, the humor, the tears, the hilarity....the syph ( ?! ) and these characters I've grown to really enjoy spending my sunday nights with - please don't ever take them away! On a personal note, my own grandmother died after her alzheimer's took over - it was devastating on so many levels, and you've nailed how Meredith is dealing with it. She's human, she's hurting, her mother is still in there somewhere and it's so very hard to watch. Alzheimer's with dignity, whoda thunk? VERY well done - thanks again!

Spaz Cadet

Hey, found this through TWoP, which I'm sure you guys all looooove ;-). I can't imagine having to come up with a "medical case" or three for a show a couple times a month (week?) and have them all relate metaphorically to the character's internal drama. You are very clever to do that.
And your writing is very smart. I usually like the kinda shows where people get blowed up and there's not a lot of girly stuff, but you've won me over, and I think a lot of that has to do with how unsentimentally sentimental the writing is. It's a tough balance, and I appreciate your making it work.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Jennifer

First of all I love you!!!! You are such a wonderful writer. I have not been this crazy about a show since....ever!!! I am obssessed:) Actually if you check out any of the Grey's boards you will find I am not the only one!
First of all I cried tears of joy when you said there is hope for Meredith and McDreamy. Please, Please PLEASE reunite them! I do appriciate the fact that Derek is going to try and make his marriage work but let's make him get through that part quickly!!
Bailey's escapade on this episode was BRILLIANT!!! Grey's Anatomy Rules! Happy Thanksgiving!

Jenster

I love your post! And I love your assessment on the characters. The play on the pilot was really funny. I laughed my butt off. I think that Burke will eventually break through Christina's tough exterior. If anyone can understand her obsessions and be patient (no pun intended) with her, it's Burke.

I'm starting to warm up to Addison, but I still don't think Derek should take her back. What she did was unforgettable, if nothing else. At least she ditched the salmon scrubs! I work in a hospital and know I'd get some looks if I wore those scrubs. Even here in the Bay Area!

Bailey is my favorite. I adore her. I love her tell-it-like-it-is attitude. Being easily ignored myself, I wish some of her would rub off on me. There are a few people I'd like to say "Happy Thanksgiving" to myself. :)

Anyway, the show rocks. It just keeps getting better and better. Keep up the great work!

Happy turkey day to the cast and crew!

Ashley

Shonda, you seem like such a sweet and genuine person. I wish I could meet you in person! Anyway, it gives us Mer/Der romantics hope that you want them together too. I guess waiting for the right time will have to do, but in the mean time could you give us a few more moments like the elevator scenes last week and the bench scene this week? They really reveal their undeniable chemistry and it gives us something to look forward to.

On a side note, Bailey has to be one of my favorite characters on the show. Her quick wit and attitude is a killer combination and I can't wait to see her as a mother. Please don't pull a "Housewives" and have her miscarry.

Thanks for another great episode and have a great holiday!

Liz

First of all, THANK YOU for creating this wonderful show! I love it and I haven't been this addicted to a show since a certain HBO series that centered around strong women.

I LOVE Derek and Meredith together, and my heart broke with Meredith and Derek when she gave him the "emotional boot" this past week.

Addison really bugged me this week (okay she always bugs me, but I'll move on). Why did she force the sex issue? Couldn't she tell that maybe he wasn't ready to have sex with her? Why not wait until it happens naturally and not having to set up some forced encounter? In the end he consented because, let’s face it, she showed up at his place and put a guilt trip on him with those crocodile tears. (The whole “Are you done hurting me back…” speech… and for the record, I wasn't moved. If you wanted fans to like Addison even a little or feel sorry for her it is probably too late for the majority of us. She cheated with his best friend in their marital bed. I just don't know how a person gets redeemed from that or how a marriage survives that.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

cysive

Dear Ms Rhimes,

I hate to pick nits -- really I do, and I usually hate the nits that pick them -- but I just can’t help but point out that no one talks during a turkey hunt, never, not ever! No Turkey – except maybe Turkey One, but only because it is already dead – would ever let a bunch of loud drunken yapping hunters get within a thousand yards of it. Every Turkey hunter knows this and anyone that knows anything about Turkey hunting knows it too. I know it and I have never hunted a day in my life; that just shows you how common such knowledge is.

I apologize for being such a nitwit in pointing this out, and I realize it is just a television show and a metaphor, but it struck me silly that a show -- that probably has a gaggle of experts checking each and every medical scene for something at least akin to realism – doesn’t have someone to tell them to make the Turkey hunters whisper their lines in a Turkey hunting scene. Doing so might even have made the “pick a car” stuff play better.

Other than that, great job! It was a very enjoyable show. I look forward to many more great shows, as well as reading about your struggles in bringing them to us on your blog.

And don’t hesitate to contact me if in the future you require any not-so-expert-turkey-hunting-advice. I can be reached at cysive@yahoo.com

Happy Holidays!

Dan D.

Sophia

Sunday is my favorite night.......and what about Izzie, is she going to have a really nice love story with Alex? and who is going to be with George?

Jen

Yea im one of the few that actually like Addison...but i do.....you should definitely keep her on the show even if she's not with McDreamy....although I liked the end of "Thanks for the Memories" that was cute! And sunday....i wait for it, i wish everyday was sunday!!! Keep doing the hard work...this is my all time every favorite show....plz keep it on for many many seasons!!!

Betty

Our work discussion of this week's show was interesting. I am the only one who has seen season 1 and the rest of my co-workers just don't think the show is that good. My college age daughter who also has not seen Season 1 just feels that the show is ok. It really is the magic of MER/DER that makes this show work. They just don't know how good the show can be. Hopefully, they will find out before they quit watching.

PamelaJaye

Shonda (and writers) I do hope that you read these comments -- and I'm going to skip reading all of them till I write this. It's wonderful to have the chance (if you're reading) to feed back. And it's wonderful to hear from the writers.

I won't go into all the intricacies, and I'm not 20something anymore -- I'm 46 -- but I did want to say that, oh screw it -- I have to say it like this: even though I've been somewhat embarrassed to tell my fellow House fans (they of the deeply intellectual and snarky) that I love this show (as much as House), but even though it took me 11 whole episodes to figure it out -- *I love this show.* In a way I haven't loved a show since Ally McBeal. I know my (House) friends would call if fluff and soap opera (and some have) but -- and this may sound silly -- it just fills my romantic soul. Between the deep emotional content and the music and the voiceover, you've filled the gaping hole that's been there since Ally's been gone (and she was "gone" a bit before she was cancelled).

Sometimes the metaphors are so blatant it feels like we're being hit over the head with them, but since Enough is Enough, I'm even more thrilled that I've never (on purpose) deleted an ep from my DVR and I can go back to them whenever I want, and laugh and cry and sing, all at the same time, while Meredith voices over the point of the week. (It's like Scrubs, only *more* deeply emotionally satisfying) I knew at the end of EiE, when I was near tears and all goosebumpy, that I'd found another gem. (which is good, cause Scott Bakula got cancelled last year, and Enterprise was never worthy of him anyway -- can you tell I watch too much TV? but in a very selective way)
(and my brother, who's really tough on TV writers, loves it too -- despite his little "exposition anvil" sign which he made. You've managed to help push The West Wing out of his *must watch this week* top shows.)

Kudos to you all. You are rapidly climbing into my favorite writers list to join David E Kelley and Joss Whedon. Please keep it up and keep in touch. I've loved reading the blogs. (some of them are almost as much fun as the show).

Hugs and "Seriously"s to you all :-)

Patrick's cute and the cast is all great, but *the writers* are always my heros.

Pam from Boston (now in Florida)

Celeste

First of all, we love Grey's Anatomy here in Oz. In Melbourne alone, it's often on the top ten list of the most watched TV shows. The main reason why it's so popular here is probably because the characters are so driven, intelligent, funny and soo human all at the same time (well, except for Addy -she's satan and will always be satan. Sorry, I don't think she can redeem herself cheating on Derek with his bestfriend).
I'm glad to know that you too are in love with the Mer/Der couple. I do hope they end up together eventually and live happily ever after. But that's all up to you really. It's your show and it's your story....but I just hope you're not like Branon Braga of the Star Trek Franchise who gave the Enterprise fans a slap on the face when he killed off a favorite character and left the Vulcan love interest broken hearted in the finale. Anyway, great work and I'll always look forward to seeing the next episode!!!

Celeste from Melbourne

The comments to this entry are closed.