Shondaland EP Betsy Beers Wants Pitches for the Next ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Spin-Off

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Betsy Beers knows not to doubt the power of “Grey’s Anatomy” after 20 seasons.

The Shondaland executive producer, who’s worked on the Shonda Rhimes-created medical drama from day one, reflected on the show’s ability to “stand up strong” through many changes in its history. By the end of its landmark 20th season later this month, “Grey’s” will become the longest-running drama series in ABC history. With spin-off series “Station 19” ending this spring, “Grey’s” will return for Season 21 as the sole Shondaland-produced series on the broadcast network — the first time it stands alone since the premiere of “Private Practice” in 2007.

When asked about the possibility of more “Grey’s” spin-offs, Beers admitted the short answer is “who the hell knows?” She added that the Ellen Pompeo-led drama series benefits from an “endless stream of medical stories” and a beloved cast of characters that audiences love to watch “grow while growing with them.”

“But come back and tell me, what do you think we should do as a spin-off?” Beers asked during an interview with TheWrap as she celebrated “Grey’s Anatomy” at SeriesFest this past weekend (That offer will be taken up when we have more than 10 minutes to chat).

Regardless, the show hardly struggles with holding audience interest on its own. The Season 20 premiere garnered 10 million viewers across platforms within 35 days of release, according to data provided by ABC. “Grey’s” also frequently lands in Nielsen’s Top 10 report of viewership across streaming, as its multigenerational fanbase flocks to Hulu and Netflix to watch episodes again and again.

Beyond the “Grey’s Anatomy” universe, Beers has had a hand on every television series produced by Shondaland — from watercooler ABC dramas “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder,” to Netflix hits like “Bridgerton” and “Inventing Anna,” created under Shondaland’s headline-making overall deal at the streamer. At SeriesFest, Beers was honored with the Impact in Television Award, alongside Shondaland and its flagship series, for trailblazing storytelling that changed what audiences expect from programming across broadcast and streaming.

Beers spoke with TheWrap about the legacy and longevity of “Grey’s Anatomy,” the end of “Station 19,” collaborating with Netflix and how Shondaland has raised a new generation of Hollywood creatives.

Shondaland executive producer Betsy Beers speaks after receiving the Impact in Television Award at the SeriesFest: Season 10 Soirée at Asterisk on May 03, 2024, in Denver. (Tom Cooper/Getty Images for SeriesFest)

TheWrap: How does it feel to look back on 20 years of revolutionary television?

Beers: I can’t believe 20 years have gone by … I am incredibly lucky because I am able to only work on things that I absolutely love. I’m proud that we’ve been able to accomplish all that we have accomplished, the way that the company’s been growing and the different forms of storytelling that are now available to us.

Every once in a while I’ll look back and think about, “What is the best way to put your story out there in terms of promotion?” And I think about “Scandal” and live tweeting, what a big deal that was when Twitter was all there was. Look at how the world’s changed and the climate has changed. But there’s also this consistent narrative for me, which is that we have been lucky enough to continue to figure out ways of telling stories that we love.

More than an industry-changing show, “Grey’s” and Shondaland have grown into a remarkable talent incubator for people to develop skills as actors, directors, producers and more. How did mentorship become such a big pillar in the company’s mission?

It was always in the DNA. Both Shonda and I look at it as common sense. The best thing you can do in the world is to find people who love what you do, and with whom you can share the information you have, so that they can grow and rise up. We’ve been lucky enough to mentor so many people who’ve decided to stay in the company that we’ve ended up benefiting from the time that we all spent together as they were moving up.

It just makes everything better when you give people opportunities, particularly people who might not have had opportunities otherwise … There are so many benefits to watching people then go off in the world and create their own shows and do their own work.

So much of leadership is about creating an environment where people can learn, where they’re not scared to say how they feel, where they feel supported and protected. That’s something as a producer I feel incredibly proud of, and I think it’s incredibly important. It’s one of the things I always try to pass on.

From left to right: Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan in Season 3 of "Bridgerton" (Netflix)
Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan in “Bridgerton” Season 3 (Netflix)

Netflix has been an exceptional home for Shondaland so far, producing hit after hit. As Hollywood faces this moment of contraction and frugality, have you noticed any change in the way the streamer responds to the projects you’re developing?

We all have to be aware that there is a shift. Obviously, there was a lot of contraction last year. It’s up to us as good producers to be mindful of that … I always want to make sure that the money we spend is well spent. But I think the main thing is just to stay conscious and focused, and we have a great partnership with Netflix, where they want to continue to tell the stories that we want to tell. And I think it’s up to us to make sure that we are able to tell stories in a way that I feel is responsible in the climate that demands it.

One of the biggest products of that partnership is “Bridgerton,” which is now a worldwide phenomenon. Both you and Shonda have said that the plan is to cover all eight books in the series. With Season 3 set to release soon, is there a plan to get all eight installments done at a reasonable time?

I’ll quote one of my favorite lines from Anna Delvey and say, “It takes as long as it takes.” It takes a different amount of time for different stories to be told, and that can be for a number of different reasons — external obstacles like weather, strike or COVID. Seasons were delayed because of this horrible world event, and it also can just be about getting the story right.

When we want something to come out in the world, we want to make sure that it’s exactly what we believe will delight and please the audience. Sometimes that happens fast and sometimes slowly … the great thing about “Bridgerton” is that every single book is a different child and it’s different. It’s a different journey about how one navigates their own sense of self. There’s a happy ending, and then you kick off another season with your favorite characters, but it feels fresh as a daisy.

This year, we say goodbye to “Station 19,” a decision that came from ABC. Fans have been campaigning hard to try to save the show. Has moving to either a streamer like Hulu or Netflix been in discussion at all, or do you also see this as the end for the series?

People will see that the writers figured out a great way to end the show very elegantly and happily, and I think the fans will be hopefully pleased with that. But I know it’s rough to watch.

“Grey’s” is renewed for Season 21 and remains a key asset for ABC, though now on its own without a spin-off partner once again. What does the future of the “Grey’s” universe look like from here?

It’s going to look like “Grey’s.” The thing about the show is that “Grey’s” has always continued to be “Grey’s.” But it also constantly transforms itself with characters that come and go, and with the new kinds of stories that can be told. We’ve continued to re-energize and repopulate with different characters over the years, which is part of it, but there’s also an endless stream of medical stories as medicine in the world changes.

“Grey’s” is going to continue to stand up strong.

“Grey’s Anatomy” and “Station 19” air Thursdays on ABC. Episodes are available to stream the day after premiere on Hulu. “Bridgerton” Season 3, Part 1 premieres Thursday, May 13, on Netflix.

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