Fans of Grey's Anatomy can't get enough of the medical drama, and in 2007, they got the chance to watch one of the characters, Addison Montgomery, leave for California and get a story of her own. For six seasons, Addison worked on cases at Oceanside Wellness, fell in love a few times, and adjusted to the changes in her life.
Grey's has been on the air for 15 seasons (with season 16 premiering this fall) and since it's going to be around for a very long time, it's interesting to compare these two hospital shows. Here are five things that Private Practice did better than Grey's Anatomy, along with five things that the original show did better than the spin-off starring Kate Walsh.
10 Private Practice: Actually Shocking Deaths
By now, people know that a Shondaland series means many characters have a good chance of dying. It can honestly feel like tons of people are going to pass away in every season so it's no longer as shocking as it should be.
On Private Practice, though, this wasn't the case at all because the deaths were actually shocking. From Dell (Chris Lowell) and his car crash to Pete's (Tim Daly) heart attack, no one thought that these would happen at all.
9 Grey's Anatomy: A Formula For Each Episode
Many medical dramas follow a similar, case-of-the-week formula where there is a new patient and problem every episode, and the doctors have to figure out what's wrong and save them (with lots of obstacles along the way, of course).
Grey's Anatomy takes this formula and runs with it super well, crafting strong episodes that feature compelling patients along with lots of personal drama for the doctors. This is something that the show does better than Private Practice since the latter features a different set-up for its sixth and final season: each episode focuses on one character for the most part. This had mixed results and was sometimes good, sometimes poorly done.
8 Private Practice: Humanizing Addison
On Grey's Anatomy, Addison is one-note: the woman that Derek (Patrick Dempsey) is (oops) still married to. Meredith has a problem with this, as she should, and fans aren't big on Addison since she's threatening to ruin the couple that everyone has been shipping since the pilot.
Private Practice excels in this area since the show humanizes Addison and gives fans a chance to get to know the real her. Instead of focusing on the love triangle and all of that drama, fans get to see Addison doing her work, wanting to find love and start a family, and dealing with her past. She's a really fascinating character, but only on her own show.
7 Grey's Anatomy: Meredith's Commentary
Love or loathe them, voiceovers are here to stay in many TV shows and movies. When expertly done, they're a great way to feel familiar with a certain character and they can be comforting.
Meredith's commentary in every episode of Grey's Anatomy is something that the show does really well. Grey's definitely has a leg up on its spin-off in this area. It's impossible to imagine this show without hearing from Meredith at the beginning and end of every episode. It's always beautiful and poetic.
6 Private Practice: Amelia's Character Arc
Grey's does feature Amelia (Caterina Scorsone), but she's Derek's little sister and Owen's love interest for a good portion of the series. On Private Practice, she gets her own plotline and it's sad, heartbreaking, and any other adjective that you could find.
In the fifth season, Amelia falls for Ryan (Wes Brown) and the two do drugs together. As she's an addict, this is devastating to watch. It gets worse, though: after he passes away from an overdose, she learns that she's pregnant with his baby... and then she learns that her baby is brain dead and won't survive. Scorsone does an incredible job with this storyline.
5 Grey's Anatomy: The Relationships
Honestly, not many TV dramas can hold a candle to Grey's Anatomy when it comes to the way that the show portrays relationships. From flirting and casual dating to marriage and divorce, the series really does cover all the ways that people partner up.
Most of all, though, the show has an epic romance in Derek and Meredith, with everything from a sweet post-it wedding to his untimely and tragic death. No matter how cute some of the couples are on Private Practice, they will never compare to Mer and Der.
4 Private Practice: Disturbing Subjects
When it comes to what the Grey's spin-off did better than the original show, handling disturbing subjects would have to be one of them. Private Practice dealt with everything from suicide to child abuse to rape to drug addiction, and not in a melodramatic way, either.
When the show talked about these topics, it was always with care, compassion, and respect. While sometimes the cases that came into the clinic were silly, a lot of the time they were very serious, and the doctors took everyone's thoughts and feelings into account when treating patients.
3 Grey's Anatomy: A Mix Of Light-Hearted And Serious
Private Practice could only feel super heavy since it dealt with so many heavy topics. Grey's Anatomy, on the other hand, does a great job with its tone, which is a mixture of light-hearted episodes and more serious fare.
After almost 16 seasons, it's possible for a show to feel like it's lacking in the elements that made it a success in its early days, from good characters to chemistry to surprising scenes. Grey's steps up to the plate every season and still features many things that fans can enjoy. While of course the show deals with medical issues, there are enough lighter moments (often focusing on the characters' dating lives) that help balance things out.
2 Private Practice: Cliffhangers That Don't Feel Cheesy
TV fans know that the more dramas you watch, the more you become pretty immune to cliffhangers... particularly when something big happens to end a season. You spend weeks anticipating this type of event and when it occurs, you react with a shrug and think, "So what?"
That wasn't the case with the cliffhangers on Private Practice. They never felt cheesy or expected. Instead, they were entertaining, hard to turn away from, thought-provoking, and always set up the next episode or season with fans looking forward to more. The best example? The season two finale when pregnant Violet could lose her baby to her patient Katie who wants it right now. Yikes.
1 Grey's Anatomy: Season Premieres And Finales
Grey's Anatomy is praised for its season finales, and every season premiere deserves just as much credit. From the pilot when Meredith and Derek meet and the interns befriend one another to Lexie interning at the hospital in the season four premiere, there's always something new and exciting going on. And the finales are spot-on, from Meredith and Cristina dancing to say goodbye in season 10 to Teddy's pregnancy in season 14.
Even though some fans believe that Grey's already had its heyday and should have been canceled long ago, it's still got many years ahead of it. It'll be interesting to see if the trend of great season openers and endings will continue.