Ellen Pompeo is surprisingly — or, perhaps you might think, refreshingly — candid about how money factors into her job on Grey’s Anatomy in this new interview with TV Guide. From the getgo, she acknowledges that it was just one thing that motivated her to sign on for another season: “Because I’m not crazy! ABC appreciates me very much and I’m not stupid [laughs]. The network goes above and beyond and I’d be an asshole to not acknowledge that.” Note that the pay raise comes first, and then she adds, “And [showrunner] Shonda [Rhimes] thinks she has more story to tell.”
But what about those stories? Grey’s is entering its ninth season, and you could argue that it jumped the shark a long time ago. First it jumped the shark, then it crashed a boat into the shark, then it slammed a bus into the shark, then it dropped a plane on the shark. Oh, and killed off several beloved characters.
We’re long used to the show having controversy, starting from the on-set feud between Isaiah Washington and T.R. Knight that ended with Washington getting unceremoniously written off the show after he used a gay slur. And of course, Katherine Heigl throwing down the gauntlet by withdrawing her name from Emmy consideration in 2008, and the protracted pissing contest that ultimately ended with Izzie getting written off. (Whoops, originally wrote “killed off” there… Goes to show how much attention I actually paid to this show after a certain point.)
Now, Ellen is a lot more diplomatic than Katherine was when discussing how outlandish the show has gotten, but you can’t deny the fact that she clearly has her issues with the show. ”Why Meredith wouldn’t take a job at Harvard is a bit of a stretch,” she told TV Guide. “But for whatever reason she doesn’t and convinces everyone [but Cristina] to stay. That’s a difficult thing to believe when I’m playing it, but I’m just a paid employee who has to do what they say. We have a boss like everybody else. You may not always agree with it but you still have to be professional and do the best you can.”
You gotta hand it to Ellen for being so pragmatic. As she says earlier in the interview about staying on with the show, “What else am I doin’?” Grey’s has literally been her full-time job since 2005; unlike Heigl, she doesn’t have any movie offers to tempt her away from Seattle Grace. But she obviously feels free enough to voice any displeasure with the show, which is more how you would hear someone whose show is actually ending talk. Like Penn Badgley talking about Gossip Girl‘s final season; he described the vibe on-set as, “We’re not counting off the days, but we’re all just like, ‘Wow. We’ve been on this show for so long, and it’s about to end.’” So it makes sense for them to be critical. Not so when Grey’s is starting season 9 and doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon.