Casting announcements for the 16th season in televisions’ longest-running primetime medical drama have us curious. Will Gery’s Anatomy keep its first gay male romance? And if so, will it, and its’ characters, finally get some written development?
Last year, we were excited to share with you that long-running series Grey’s Anatomy was planning to include its first gay male surgeon. While the show has had lesbian surgeons, bisexual female surgeons, and its first transgender surgeon, the show had yet to include a gay male one. Then, we were excited to find out he would get a romance with one of the show’s interns.
But as the show’s 15th season progressed, viewers found out that the gay romance didn’t get much exploration. Part of that’s understandable. After all, the show’s crowded cast list leaves little time for newer characters.
Though, there’s also the added factor that the show’s first gay male surgeon was used as a plot device to explore another character. While we got excited for the announcement and arrival of Dr. Nico Kim, it appears his role was meant to be a catalyst for Jake Borelli’s Dr. Levi Schmitt coming out.
As showrunner Krista Vernoff shared with Entertainment Weekly during the time, the focus was always meant to be on Jake Borelli’s character.
“I remembered a friend of mine in college who was sort of a clumsy, fumfering type who would trip over his own feet [like Borelli’s character] and would stutter, and then he came out toward the end of our freshman year and emerged as a completely different human being because he was living in his truth. Living in his truth seemed to set something free in him where he was no longer tripping over his own feet. He emerged with strength and power and sex appeal that had not existed in him publicly prior, and when I remembered my friend, I wanted to tell that story with Jake because it felt like a really beautiful way to evolve his character. Then we realized we’d never done it! It was a hugely exciting thing.”
Now with the show preparing for its 16th season, it looks like Borelli will get even more attention.
Contract negotiations have just completed for the following two seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. In addition to confirming a 17th season, by getting lead actress Ellen Pompeo to extend her contract for one more year, the show has made three actors season regulars. Chris Carmack, Greg Germann, and Jake Borelli have all been promoted from reoccurring roles to series regulars.
“Chris, Jake, and Greg have been recurring for us as guest stars and have popped as fan favorites,” said Vernoff at the announcement. “We are excited to continue revealing their characters and we are beyond thrilled to welcome them to the Grey’s Anatomy family.”
“Dreams do come true,” shared Jake Borelli on social media. “#GreysAnatomy has been my home for the past two years, and saying that I’m over the moon excited about this doesn’t scratch the surface.”
But while Jake Borelli has been promoted to series regular with the continuation of “revealing [his] character,” Alex Landi’s Nico Kim isn’t as lucky. While Landi has been confirmed to return in season 16, he’ll only be returning as a guest role.
While this all seems like good news, there is some worry for the future of the Schmico relationship. Dr. Schmitt is bound to be explored more. This is good as very little is known about him besides the fact that he’s a geeky man living with his mother and currently reclaiming his confidence.
But even less is known about Dr. Kim. All we know is that he’s a gay jock who likes geeky guys. The show only recently gave Landi more than 5 lines per episode, and their attempt at defining his character was to have him go through a depressed and aggressive period. (Of course, it doesn’t help that Landi is a newcomer to Hollywood with room to grow as an actor). As such, fans have turned to disliking the character.
While the couple left season 15 on a promising note, there is the possibility of Landi’s character being written off (much like other queer characters whose primary purpose was to act as rebounds or catalysts for the coming out of other, more prominent, roles). What was once a promising character for the season has sadly been watered down with only a slim hope for more.
So, will Nico Kim and Levi Schmitt get the character development and exploration they deserve? Will not only their relationship but their characterizations get more thoughtful writing in seasons 16 and 17? We’ll find out when Grey’s Anatomy returns. Until then, we’ll keep our fingers crossed.