When Grey’s Anatomy returns for its 10th season next month, Calzona fans will see that their favorite lesbian couple are still trying to figure out how to move on now that Arizona has had a tryst with Lauren (Hilarie Burton). Both Sara Ramirez and Grey’s executive producer Betsy Beers were at the TCA ABC event last Sunday where they told us what they could about the two hour season premiere on September 26.
“Callie is enraged,” Sara said of her character. “She’s broken-hearted, devastated and is reactive and acting out. That’s kind of what we see in the beginning.”
Sara said they’ve only shot the first few episodes, so she doesn’t know “what’s coming” for the couple. “All I know is the premiere, you’re seeing Callie reeling from the new information and she doesn’t hide it from the rest of the hospital,” Sara said. “She’s very open about how she’s feeling.”
That’s always the trouble on Grey’s for every couple. Spending so much time at the hospital is hard enough. If you’re working next to your partner, your ex or the woman she cheated on you with, things can get even more intense.
“And it’s not just them, you know? Cristina and Owen have some stuff going on, Jackson and April,” Sara said. “What I love about it is that everybody’s stuck in the hospital together, having to deal with all of these emotional things.”
Sara Ramirez and Jessica Capshaw in “Grey’s Anatomy”
“I just think they’re going through some stuff,” said Betsy, who also works with creator Shonda Rhimes on Scandal. “They’re both such great characters and you know, I think watching that last season finale and leading up to it, I see both of their points. I see where both of them are. I so feel for Arizona and what she’s been through and the sort of feeling that she needs to be who she really is. And I totally, totally, totally totally can’t even stand how emotional it is, what was happening, what’s going on. But I think, rest assured, it’s something that’s going to continue. It’s obviously a conflict which is going to keep going, something that has not been resolved yet. And there’s some really really really good turns that Shonda and the writers have planned.”
Although viewers would love to see smooth sailing for Callie and Arizona, the couple is treated like every other show on the soapy drama, which is to say they have issues just like everyone else.
“It’s unrealistic,” Betsy said of couples without hardships. “It happens to everybody. And you feel for [Arizona] and what she’s going through, what Callie’s going through, and it’s a real couple. It’s a real couple with a real relationship going through relationship conflicts and all couples go through that.”
She knows fans take it hard when their favorite couple has problems.
“Owen and Cristina man, that’s a heavy one too,” Betsy said. “I look at the trajectory and stories of Derek and Meredith and all the great couples on the show, and I think the main thing is that whatever Shonda and the writers do and we do, we hope it’s real and realistic and true to what the characters believe and think.”
So far Grey’s hasn’t given a reason to think Callie and Arizona couldn’t get through their current trials. Both Sara and Jessica Capshaw are signed on for the entire season, and the writers know how strongly fans believe in their relationship, because they believe in it, too.
“They’re like everybody else, because they are like everybody else,” Betsy said. “They have problems like everybody else. And I think it’s a hugely important thing that we understand that we’re all the same. And that means the good and the bad. I’m excited to see what happens next because I’m so invested at this point. I’m so invested it.”
Sara said she has felt the support of fans and the LGBT community, and that she feels it’s so important to play a character like Callie, who she says is “sexually fluid.”
“I hoped that it would be received positively, just the notion of someone discovering their own sexual fluidity,” Sara said. “I don’t know that that gets talked about a lot. I think even within the LGBT community there is some fear around that.”
While Shondaland continues to grow with new hit shows like Scandal and other producing projects in the works, ABC said they have no plans to stop working on Grey’s in the near future. Even better news: Sara said she’s in it for the long haul.
“I want it to go as long as Shonda feels passionate about telling stories,” she said. “When the writers run out of inspiration is when we should probably stop. But I don’t want to stop anytime soon. I love playing this character and I love the writing and I love the steps Grey’s Anatomy continues to take. So I’m on board.”
Outside of Grey’s, Sara has been lending her voice to the animated Disney Jr. series Sophia the First.
“I play Sophia’s mother, Queen Miranda,” Sara said. “It’s a beautiful show about a young little girl named Sophia and her mother who end up moving into the kingdom because Sophia’s mother marries the king. The king has two kids from his previous relationship and so it’s a blended family. A blended royal family.”
Sara said the show, which targets viewers between the ages of two to seven, focuses on the lesson that “being a princess has more to do with developing a sense of compassion for people and kindness.”
“It’s not all about the clothes that you wear and the material things that you have, it’s about your heart and your kindness to others,” Sara said. “It’s very sweet. And it’s full of music—original music—and so there’s a lot of singing in the show. So I’ve gotten to sing already a few times.”
While that’s the only singing Sara said she has in her plans for the near future, she did say she’s living her dream right now.
“I just celebrated my one year anniversary and we’re so happy and still very much in our honeymoon period so I just feel like my personal life is great, I’m giving back to the charities and organizations I believe in, I’m continuing to support all the causes I believe in, I’m working on an amazing show in its 10th season,” she said. “I mean, I’m good. I don’t need a lot more than that, honestly.”
As for Betsy and Shondaland, they are continuing to work on projects that have strong women characters at their core, and that will always include LGBT themes.
“[We're always] making sure that the people we know, the people we care about, are being portrayed on television,” Betsy said. “Like the world we see is so important to us that rest assured it’s something that is always in the back of our heads. We’re certainly, as we’re developing shows that we’re working on the in the future, you can count on us. We have some really great kickass female characters that really will be at the center of the shows. We’re super committed to that.”
Grey’s Anatomy returns September 26 on ABC.