Grey's Anatomy Shocker: The Real Story Behind The Big Der/Mer Twist

[Warning: If you have yet to watch this week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy, run — don’t walk — to the nearest emergency exit. Everyone else, onward and downward….]

In what will likely be viewed as a setback for the Post-It Note wedding movement, Grey’s Anatomy formally married off Derek and Meredith in Thursday night’s wedding-themed hour. The no-frills city hall service comes two years after the couple’s symbolic sticky-pad nuptials set off a mini backlash among the show’s traditional-minded fans.

Throughout the firestorm, series creator Shonda Rhimes maintained her position that the unorthodox service — while not legally binding — was a real wedding in the eyes of Der/Mer. But there’s nothing like the pull of parenthood (not to mention the rigid rules of adoption) to change one’s perspective. In the following Q&A, Rhimes talks about the decision to officially tie the duo’s knot and why it doesn’t represent an about-face on her part.

TVLINE | You caught some flack from fans about the Der-Mer Post-It Note wedding. Any concern that this will look like you caved into their demands?
No. I don’t think anybody who’s looking at this wedding will think that I caved into anyone’s demands. This doesn’t really fit anybody’s definition of the usual way a television wedding goes…. This was on their little checklist of things that will make things easier to adopt from another country.  Derek and Meredith have considered themselves married for a very long time. This is a piece of paper that’s necessary. I don’t think it means much to them.

TVLINE | Plus, it’s not like you put Mer in a big poofy dress which, as I recall, is the statement you were really making with the Post-It Note thing.
If I had seen Meredith Grey in a big white dress, parading around, my head would’ve exploded. There’s just no way for that to work. It’s not who her character is. It’s what I love about the character – that’s not who she is. I love a big white poofy dress, I have to say. And I loved putting Callie and Arizona in big white poofy dresses. But it’s just not the character of Meredith Grey. She’s a little unromantic in that sense. She doesn’t need any of that to have great love and to be in this relationship.

TVLINE | The juxtaposition of the two drastically different weddings in the episode was a nice touch.
I thought it was really beautiful to have Callie and Arizona getting married in a non-legal, unofficial ceremony run by Bailey that takes place in the forest. And at the same time, Meredith and Derek are doing what constitutes a legal marriage in this country in front of a judge with a stamp and their drivers licenses and no rings, and they’re not dressed up. And they’re both equally romantic.

TVLINE | Is it safe to say the adoption process won’t be a simple one for Derek and Meredith?
The adoption journey doesn’t end this season. Just because someone decides they want to adopt a baby doesn’t mean they just then suddenly and magically adopt that baby. It doesn’t work that way. As an adoptive mother myself, I didn’t want to portray it as a super-easy process that magically fixes itself.

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78 Comments
  1. Janey says:

    I thought, unfortunately, it made a very happy episode a very sad affair. It just made Callie and Arizona’s “wedding” even more depressing.

    • Chris says:

      “wedding”?

      • xav says:

        It’s not legal so everyone was just pretending it was. Hence why they showed how depressingly easy it is for Meredith and Derek to decide to get married on a whim while Callie and Arizona only get to play at it with no choice.

        • Stacie says:

          It’s interesting to see these 2 stories match up so clearly tonight.
          -
          We had the wedding of course, seeing these 2 people(Merideth & Derek) not even want to legally get married have to get married to adopt a baby, versus 2 people that desperately want to be married legally but can’t.
          -
          Then we see how easy it was for Callie to get pregnant and have a baby, versus Merideth finding it difficult to concieve, and now both Merideth and Derek will try to adopt a baby from another country, which is a difficult task as well.
          -
          Seeing these 2 storylines side to side is a very interesting take and very clever by the writers.
          -
          I know it wasn’t legal, but seeing Callie and Arizona get married on TV was history and ground breaking. Very well done and monumental all at the same time.

          • Mia says:

            How was it ground breaking? Remember 15 years ago or so when Ross on Friends walked ex-wife Carol down the isle to marry her girlfriend Susan? Arizona and Callie were not exactly the first gay/lesbian wedding on tv, and my favorite part about their relationship is that Shonda has always made it about these two INDIVIDUALS, and not made a big deal about what gender they are (hint hint Ryan Murphy)

          • rowan says:

            @Mia,

            I agree, this was not groundbreaking. Same sex weddings have been done on TV for years now. But comparing Grey’s telling of a gay love story and and Glee’s is apples and oranges. one show is a drama, the other is a musical farce (in style, not content… okay, sometimes in content as well). Glee is meant to be slightly surreal and pointed where Grey’s is usually more naturalistic.

          • jodief1 says:

            @Mia – The Calzona wedding is still ground-breaking, because Ross’s ex’s wedding (see? I can’t even remember her name) was tangential and a joke in and of itself. (The title of that episode of “Friends” was “The One with the Lesbian Wedding.”) Unbelievably, since it’s now 2011, this is still the first prime-time network wedding of two women who are MAJOR CHARACTERS. And as a lesbian, I was really darn happy to see it, even though it was seriously undermined by the terrible treatment Calzona have received throughout the rest of the season. (By “terrible treatment,” I don’t mean the specific plotline so much as the fact that we haven’t even gotten to know Arizona any better, and until 7×18 they both were running around crazy so much that we didn’t even see much love between them.)

        • Rae says:

          I enjoy the fact that the marriages are not about being legal. That is not the point. Although, it would be nice if legality could be determined by the two people actually getting married.

          The weddings are about 2 people joining there lives together. Whether post-it or big wedding it is the meaning of the ceremony or ritual that is given by those who participate.

          It sounds as if many people are too culturally indoctrinated to realize that once marriage was not legal, it was private until religion and law were intertwined. The assumption of shared religion.

          The ritual itself should hold meaning to the couple not to anyone else. Marriage & weddings right now seem to be going through a metamorphosis in our culture for everyone. It challenges what we believe and what traditions we keep and what traditions we create anew.

    • Sterf says:

      Too bad they don’t live in Massachusetts!

    • Rock Golf says:

      The CalliZona wedding was silly.

      They live in Seattle! They could have driven one hour north to Vancouver and the whole thing would be legal!

      • trace says:

        Not in the United States, which is where they presently live.

        • Rowan says:

          But the wedding would be “real” and she really would be a bride – legally – while in Canada.

          • trace says:

            But the brides live in the United States and have expressed no interest in living in Canada, away from their family and friends, which means their wedding isn’t legal and thusly they do not have the same rights and protections under the US law as Meredith and Derek now do. For instance, if Callie were to die and Callie’s mom wanted to take the baby away from Arizona, she would have a very good chance of succeeding (obviously this doesn’t take into consideration Mark and the fact Carlos wouldn’t allow for that but if the circumstances were different, Callie’s mom **could** legally take Sophia away from Arizona.

    • lorna says:

      Terrible episode to a terrible season.

  2. Samantha says:

    The Post-It note marriage has bothered me for a while and I was so glad it was finally made legal. This was one of the best episodes in a while and I loved it. Both weddings were beautiful and made me cry. Great job Shonda!

  3. Heather says:

    Now that most couples are married in this show, I really hope they focus on the mess they put on Mark and Lexie. All my favorite couples are married and these two happen to make me feel clingy when they’re not together and it just has to happen soon. It better. They’re way too good and in love together.

  4. Kiki says:

    Dear Shonda — Thanks for not making it and easy “TV” adoption. It’s nice to hear Derek mention even just a few of the hoops you have to jump through to be deemed acceptable when you are in the adoption process. Adoption is a long, hard journey, but so worth it. As a fellow adoptive mom, I’m looking forward to this storyline.

  5. BRETT says:

    Great episode! I was shocked when I saw them decide to marry, but it makes sense. Also, can Teddy please move away? What she is doing to Christina is super immature. “Christina got lucky” – really? She has gotten “lucky” too many times. Is it perhaps that she is just the better doctor? I think YES.

    • xav says:

      Teddy has a real point though. Cristina does always go over someone’s head when she doesn’t agree with them. It’s childish and bad doctoring. She did get lucky because you can’t be right every time.

      • BRETT says:

        But you’re missing a key point; she HAS been right every time. Until her record proves otherwise, I stand by my argument. Keep in mind it’s been THREE MONTHS since that “going over Teddy’s head” incident happened. GET OVER IT, TEDDY.

        • xav says:

          But Cristina HASN’T LEARNED. She’s still the exact same person she was when she went to Burke because she didn’t agree with Sydney Heron. It’s not about Cristina being right, it’s about her not understanding that you can’t just complain to your boyfriend hoping the fact that you’re giving him sex will sway him to your side.

          • BRETT says:

            She complained to Hunt only after questioning Teddy’s choices. Teddy is still clearly upset at Christina for snagging Hunt so she chooses to not believe her at every opportunity. However, in that case, Hunt agreed with Christina because it was the right medical decision. The proof is in the pudding, Callie survived. Had she died, or had complications due to Christina’s choices, I would see your point. So your argument is that she doesn’t follow protocol. Well hey, no one in this hospital does. I stand by the fact that Christina is the better doctor. A good doctor would be able to put this behind them if it was right for the patient – Teddy said she needed Christina’s help with a PATIENT, but was more focused on teaching her a lesson to secure her position as higher up than Christina. Teddy was sacrificing patient care levels in order to teach someone she is jealous of a lesson. I don’t see how Christina has traded sex for help with Owen at all…

          • Lilly says:

            Um, while I agree that Cristina is not acting appropriate to her supervisor, Teddy, I was more disturbed by how rudely Teddy was talking about Cristina to Cristina’s HUSBAND Owen.

      • JRP says:

        She didn’t get lucky, it was a well thought out procedure that she has completed before. She planned for every complication possible and only mentioned it again when Teddy’s procedure wasn’t working. Teddy’s procedure was causing a brain bleed as well as the baby being in distress. Both Owen and the chief agreed with her. Teddy just had her ego bruised and is taking it out on Cristina. She shouldn’t be allowed to mess with someone’s career that way. I hope she leaves with the trama doctor.

        • BRETT says:

          Exactly. It is all about ego. It’s alright to have an ego, but you have to be able to back it up, in this case, with surgical talent. Christina can, Teddy can’t. I rest my case.

        • jenna says:

          Teddy’s attitude along with the blind item about 2 big returns gives me hope that Burke will come back. I know its an INCREDIBLE long-shot but what a shocker that would be! It could also fit in with the Christina-Owen trouble that would be coming ahead because lets face it with mer trying to adopt a baby do we really want Christina to have a surprise pregnancy…again? Plus lets face it Burke was Christina’s best teacher, no one’s really stuck after him (Hahn, Virgina Dixon and now perhaps Teddy)

          • BRETT says:

            I hope Izzie and Burke come back. I still think that the shocking pregnancy could be Meredith herself, especially after she has agreed to adopt. Then they will have two kids. I hope that it turns out that way! She deserves A LOT of happiness.

          • Lauren says:

            I miss Burke! Yes, I know Isaiah Washington was a bigot, but Burke was insanely awesome, and while I prefer Owen and Cristina, I definitely agree he was the best teacher he had. I remember when Cristina was talking about how much she missed him, I think it was season four, after he left, when she was saying that she didn’t miss him as a boyfriend, but as a teacher. God I HATED how Hahn wouldn’t teach Cristina anything but was all over Izzie, when Izzie was the one who stole the heart. I was quite happy when Hahn found out, and I wish she could have given Cristina a small apology for being such a bitch before she left. Teddy has grown on me, mainly because her husband and my love for Noel from Felicity. But I hate how she is treating Cristina. Cristina is my favourite character and I can’t believe she isn’t Queen of the Surgeons by now. Every time she takes a risk it pays off and she is obviously insanely awesome at surgery. I am also extremely annoyed that she doesn’t seem to be getting Chief Resident, she deserves it! Yes I am slightly Cristina-biased. Also, Sandra Oh looked lovely at the wedding, I loved her dress. I also loved Meredith’s dress, even though they didn’t go. I couldn’t blame them, that baby was adorable!
            I loved the way they juxtaposed the two weddings. They had a heterosexual couple who didn’t need to be legally married, who were just doing it to adopt, and then they had a gay couple who had just as much right to be legally married, who wanted it more, and weren’t given that right. Obviously Shonda didn’t want them to go up to Vancouver to get married because she was making a statement about the unfairness of it all. It is truly ridiculous and makes me angry. But yes, I would still like Burke to come back for one episode, but I doubt it very much because I don’t think anyone liked him.

    • jenna says:

      i completely agree! Teddy is really starting to annoy me. It’s not just her but I feel like Christina has had wayyyy too many people ‘withholding surgeries’ from her over the past seasons that that storyline has just gotten overdone.

      Plus Christina gave Teddy her sincerity today and while it wasn’t what Teddy wanted to hear I really don’t know what she was expecting….did she really expect Christina to one day wake up and realize the error of her ways?!?!?!

  6. Matt says:

    I thought the weddings were both just alright.
    My question is why the flash to April’s feet when the African girl started puking blood.

  7. MerDer Fan says:

    Awe, boohoo to the Callie & AZ fans now you know how us MerDer fans feel about this horrible season. I LOVE that MerDer is FINALLY legally married but to show it the same moment was awful but I still have a smile on my face. I’ll take what I can get but I’d rather them had decided this without an adoption thing or child, others wedding going on why not a single episode dedicated to MerDer? instead we get about 10min of them while the hogs get the rest.

    • xav says:

      Uh, no. Meredith and Derek had the CHOICE to get married and originally chose not to, Callie and Arizona do not have that choice.If you don’t understand the difference than there is probably no help for you.

      • just saying says:

        Callie and Arizona have a choice to fly to a state that does recognize legal marriage for them.. though it would make it a complicated storyline, and theirs is over complicated enough as it is..

        • BRETT says:

          But then they would fly back to Washington and it would still not be legal there. I don’t get why you’re even bringing it up, it would do nothing to advance the story.

          • Aeol says:

            I don’t know about Washington, but I know there are several states that acknowledge a gay marriage that has taken place legally elsewhere. My friend and his husband got married in Canada but the state of NY where they live recognizes them as a legally married couple.

            Not that I am making the argument for GA, just pointing out that this is not a complete impossibility for many couples.

    • teniba says:

      why is so impossible for people to understand that for MerDer the post-it thing, was completely real, they are married, they got the legal thing because it was an item on the adoption process checklist… bt the journey is going to be very very long but it would be nice if they finaly adopt the baby…

  8. MerDer Fan says:

    I remember reading something about someone getting hiv on a show? has this happened on any show yet?

    • BRETT says:

      It was a blind item and it was about one show debating giving one of the characters HIV. You have a good memory. I remember reading something about Kepnar having big moments towards the end of the season and it was NOT going to be her losing her virginity. I think we found out the show and character tonight…

    • ron says:

      Yes, one of the doctors (or was she a nurse) got infected when she had a neddle stick injury while working with an HIV+ patient

      • ron says:

        On ER ;)

        • veronica says:

          I haven’t seen all of ER, but perhaps you mean Jeannie who was a PA and got infected by her husband after he’d cheated on her (with a hooker?). She was laid off a little bit later for budgetary reasons but then fought to get her job back claiming she was fired for being HIV+. Is that the character you’re thinking of?

    • Jazzersuz says:

      Back in the early days of ER… Gloria a nurse/PA who was seeing Dr. Benton. I don’t know why I remember that, but there you go. :)

  9. bgrape says:

    Thank you for giving me a little hope that MerDer won’t break up over Mer’s Alzheimers trial move. I love that they are finally legally married however I was digging the post it note. Know all I have to do is edit out the Calzona portion of the wedding. I feel a little jipped on that but am glad they are married. Zola is one of the cutest babies I’ve ever seen. She and Derek are priceless. I hope they are able to finally adopt her next season.

    • jenna says:

      I’m curious to see how it will all play out if merder succeed in adopting zola what will happen when mer’s folder switching comes into light.

      I’m thinking Alex will crack though, Ou heres a thought if the adoption people come to interview people around the hospital to see what type of candidates merder are and while Alex is trying to say what good honest people they are he just cracks and lets it slip. Or it could happen during the whole chief resident race.

  10. Ana says:

    Oh Shonda, you still don’t get it do you? NO ONE asked for a big puffy white wedding for M/D. Just a small City Hall like this one, just without Calzona in the middle. That’s it.

    Other than that, I didn’t care much for the weddings, just the fact that Patrick Dempsey holding a baby is the most adorable thing in the world.

    • BRETT says:

      You guys are never happy, and Shonda knows it. That’s why it’s her show and not yours.

      • trace says:

        Geesh, no kiddin! If I were Shonda I’d totally ignore the MerDer fans because they are NEVER satisfied.

    • teniba says:

      I think that image of Merder and the baby when she smiled at Mer was just soooo cute, so adorable, at that moment, all the other intrigues of show were distractions, the process will be long, diffiult with set backs, but i truly hope by mid season 8, merder will be parents…

      i ahve question: Does the checklist include kickin out their roomate, i mean if some people from the adoption process visit the house and see a bunch of people leaving there and having sex it won’t be good

  11. MerDer Fan says:

    IA Ana we didn’t need Meredith in a dress but just to see it without Calzona in the way would have been nice.

    • trace says:

      And I assure you the Calzona fans would have loved to have seen their vows without MerDer intercut as well.

  12. MerDer Fan says:

    Hm, so wonder if the show is actually going to give April the virgin HIV? I had almost forgot about that blind item Brett lol but then as I was watching April/the girl/the blood it came to me.

  13. sherri says:

    Do you mean ever? Genie from ER was HIV+ and was one of the first ever on broadcast tv.

    • Robin says:

      Was totally just thinking that same thing sherri. As much as I love Grey’s…ER did that story years ago.

  14. mdb says:

    nice juxtaposition? since when – it was a screaming “look how this fancy party has no meaning” it was total crap from start to finish I am not surprised since the show has been in the toilet for at least 2 seasons….

    • mdh says:

      Then why are you watching it…and commenting??

      I loved the MerDer wedding. It was so them =) Bravo for a great episode Shonda & the Grey’s writing team!!

  15. teniba says:

    I love the fact that what is still the main couple of the show is so unconventional, getting married on post-it, then legaly with no ceremony, now about to adopt a kid from africa… I love it…

  16. Mark says:

    I always half watch tv shows so I get a lil lost sometimes, are Meredith and Derek going to be adopting that particular baby or just they decided they want to adopt a baby in general?

  17. cindy says:

    I really hate shonda for speaking the way she does

  18. Sam says:

    I love that finally MerDer made their marriage official. I’ve been waiting for this for 2 seasons. Also MD with that adorable baby is the cutest thing I’ve ever scene!

  19. Michelle says:

    Shonda…please…GET RID OF TEDDY!!! And while you’re at it, can you head on over to Private Practice and get rid Violet as well? Every time one of them was on the screen last night, I found myself saying “Man, I hate you”.

  20. cyndi says:

    i liked it but i wonder when the other shoe will drop and and the issues with Meridith switching the study drugs will come out and the affect it will have on everyone.
    seems kinda crazy that christina would have to work so hard to come back to be a surgeon only to have teddy playing games because of her own ego.

    • jodief1 says:

      Right. Clearly, this eppy was giving MerDer their glowy happy moment before the you-know-what hits the fan with their relationship and careers.

      As for the Calzona h8ers: our you-know-what has already hit the fan, and we would have appreciated your sympathy. Now that MerDer’s is coming, I plan to be a lot nicer to you than you have been to us.

  21. susi says:

    did people bitch like this about the sticky note wedding? Isn’t the point here that a wedding is real even without the paper if people are committed? So it doesn’t matter whether it’s MerDer or Calzone, they are both committed! (so white wedding=sticky notes in this case) Hopefully, very soon Calzone can get the legal piece of paper as well. -that is long overdue!
    And because Meredith/Derek had the choice but Callie and Arizona don’t have a choice, having both weddings next to each other was the perfect way to screen this!

  22. rrs says:

    Where can I get that dress that Meredith wore in the last scenes? So cute.

  23. Mandy says:

    I think Shonda is fibbing here and that she caved to the MerDer fans. I don’t really fault her for doing so. So much ranting and complaining from them maybe she just thought its easier to shut them them up with a 60 second scene of them signing a paper. Doubt it will work. They will just find something else to rage about. Season after season they have tantrum after tantrum that its never going to change. No matter what Shonda gives them they will never, ever be happy.

  24. Julianna says:

    I hope Meredith dies… I hate her.

  25. Peyton says:

    Why was the C/A wedding so rushed? Why did we not get to hear the vows? The ceremony lasted 01:45 minute… And it’s been so hyped. Was really expecting more than what we got to see. Izzie’s wedding was bigger and more beautiful – and most important: not rushed. Everything in the episode before the wedding was better than the wedding itself. And I think the wedding photos are greater and more beautiful than what was shown in the episode. It was hyped as, and you talk about it as this ”big, beautiful wedding” – why didn’t we get to see that? Why was so much cut out? Censored? Were you worried to show more? I was really sad and disappointed.

  26. carlz says:

    i just think greys anatomy is fab,i enjoy watching the shows and am hoping that they make a season 9, the only thing is that i think they should have kept george alive, i liked him lol

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