It’s hard to keep track of Shonda Rhimes’ successes these days; with three popular dramas on the air, two comedies and a drama in development, Variety reported today that ABC has acquired another Shondaland show, this time a medical drama set in the midst of the Iraq war.
The as-yet untitled show will take place in Bagdhad in 2004, early in the timeline of the war but a brutal period during which U.N. forces had to quickly adapt to urban warfare.
As a refresher… in 2004: Sadaam Hussein was in captivity but had not yet been tried. Truck bombs and suicide attacks regularly killed dozens of people at a time, including two attacks in two days that took nearly 100 lives outside Iraqi Army and police recruiting centers. Four American contractors were killed and their bodies displayed on a local bridge, resulting in a tough offensive commonly called the first battle of Fallujah.
That was also the year when General Tommy Franks revealed that there likely were not weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, turning many Americans against the war and chopping a huge rift in the national conversation over defense spending.
Against that backdrop, the show will follow the life of an Army Medevac unit, and though it is not a spinoff, it’s convenient that Grey’s Anatomy recently featured an arc with Lexie and Owen Hunt going off to work with the Army. Priming the audience perhaps?
It sounds like the hard-working troops will have plenty of time for the kind of personal play and drama Shondaland shows are known for, the synopsis highlights co-workers who “get on each other’s nerves, sleep with the wrong people, navigate ‘office’ politics and party like there’s no tomorrow.”
It’s a good moment to launch another medical show as Grey’s Anatomy is now in its 12th season. Though it is still one of ABC’s top rated shows viewers may be tiring of the repetitive drama and loss of beloved characters. (Seriously, this is the unluckiest group of people on earth. If you get hurt in Washington state skip Seattle Grace/Grey-Sloan and pay for the ambulance ride to Portland.)
It remains to be seen whether viewers will tune back in to see how the hospital and Meredith get by after the death of Derek Shepherd, much to the chagrin of star Ellen Pompeo. More than 108,000 viewers petitioned to have McDreamy raised from the dead and returned to the cast. Last month in an Entertainment Weekly issue dedicated to Rhimes and her stellar Shondaland shows, Pompeo commented “It’s like, Annalise Keating carries the show, Olivia Pope carries the show,” she said, referring to the characters Davis and Washington play on How to Get Away With Murder and Scandal. “But somehow, Meredith Grey needs someone. Why can’t I just be the lead of the show the way Annalise and Olivia can? Why can’t I be on that poster by myself?”
Grey’s kicks off season 12 September 24 on ABC; stay tuned for more news on the Shondaland’s new shows.