The newest addition to the Shondaland empire premieres tonight, but Station 19 has one link that Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder don’t: It’s a spinoff of original Shondaland flagship Grey’s Anatomy. Ben Warren (Jason George), our favorite EMT and husband of Dr. Bailey, will suit up in his firefighting gear at the fire station down the street from Seattle Grey’s. He’ll be joined by a host of newcomers playing fellow firefighters, and if we know the Grey’s universe, a few workplace romances will be cropping up.
Much of the Station 19 plot will be revealed in tonight’s big two-hour episode, but before we learn about the ups and downs (and crushes) of life at the station, there are lessons to be learned from the franchise’s first spinoff: Private Practice ran for six seasons, and while it was largely considered a success, it never quite captured the same share of the zeitgeist that its older sibling did. So here are some major dos and don’ts that Station 19 can take away from its predecessor.
DO keep the show on Thursday nights
TGIT is appointment viewing. We fans want to settle in to our couches with our Olivia Pope-sized wine vats — er, glasses — and not move for at least three hours. We rely on Shonda Rhimes to provide us with nearly nonstop entertainment as we drown our work sorrows in buttery chardonnay, and as such, most viewers will stay tuned to whatever it is she’s delivering. The proof is in the Tuesday night pudding: When ABC bumped Private Practice to a less-prime slot to make room for Scandal‘s debut in 2012 the ratings took a very sharp dip.
DON’T make everyone suffer
Was there anyone on Private Practice who wasn’t given the worst lot in life? Between the loss of so many loved ones, the cheating, the rape, the drug addictions, and pretty much every single plot point that related to Amelia, it all got to be kind of a drag.
DO make the main character sassy
Love her or hate her, there’s no denying that Addison Montgomery (played by Kate Walsh) was a fascinating character. She had wit, she had drive, and most importantly, she was sassy-with-a-capital-S. All of Shondaland’s female leads seem to have this in common, but it’s especially important in a spinoff scenario. If the main character is too saccharine, viewers may be tempted to lose interest quickly.
DON’T keep the cast in their work uniforms all the time
Those pantsuits and sheath dresses were kind of a snooze, right? Don’t get us wrong, Walsh and her gang can wear the heck out of a business-casual situation, but there are only so many pencil skirts a person can take before they want some variety. The same goes for the firefighter getup: Let’s put the crew of Station 19 in some wild off-duty attire. A field trip to the club, perhaps?
DO cast eye candy
Not to objectify working actors, but you have to give the people what they want — and they want some hot bods. See: Taye Diggs in Private Practice.
What good is a guilty pleasure without some shirtless scenes?
DON’T make grown adults act like teenagers
All the time, that is. We understand that this is Shondaland and we come here for unending drama. Said drama requires a level of immaturity that isn’t often seen out in the real world — pettiness fuels storylines. But we don’t need to stoop to levels that would be more appropriate in a middle-school cafeteria. (Yes, that means you, employees of Seaside Wellness Center.)
DO make the show part of the social conversation
Station 19, we have one word for you: GIF-able. Despite its near-constant steady ratings, Private Practice was nearly absent in the larger television conversation. No one was live-tweeting, no one was making memes out of the characters, and definitely no one was using the characters as life inspiration. Make like Olivia Pope and get your GIF shtick going, guys!