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The One Word "Grey's Anatomy" Was Forced to Censor

"There was a big fight" about being able to use this word in Season 2, Ellen Pompeo says.

Season 17 of Grey's Anatomy premiered on Thursday, Nov. 12, and fans were truly shocked [SPOILER ALERT] by the return of McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey, at the end of the episode. The show's star, Ellen Pompeo (who's played Meredith Grey for nearly two decades), joined Jimmy Kimmel Live following the premiere to discuss the jaw-dropping episode, which saw the deceased Derek Shepherd interact with his wife in a haze. During the interview, host Jimmy Kimmel and Pompeo discussed just how much ground Grey's Anatomy has covered over the years. "Seventeen seasons, we've dabbled in everything there is to dabble," Pompeo told Kimmel. But it wasn't always so easy to dabble, she revealed. In fact, early on, ABC's Standards and Practices department, which is responsible for the moral, ethical, and legal implications of the programs the network airs, told Grey's creator Shonda Rhimes that she couldn't say one word in particular: vagina. Read on for the backstory behind the drama, and for more on Grey's, check out why Ellen Pompeo Says This "Very Well Could Be" the End of Grey's Anatomy.

In looking back on the show's 17 years, Kimmel said, "Not since McSteamy fractured his penis have we seen anything this shocking on the show." Then, he asked, "Remember that one where you carried a penis around in a cooler for the whole episode?" Of course, Pompeo did.

But she also remembered another key episode involving genitalia in Season 2, when ABC wouldn't let one of the show's characters say the word "vagina." "There was a big fight—I may be butchering this story but—there was a big fight because, with Standards and Practices, which I'm sure you deal with on occasion, you can say 'penis,' but you couldn't say 'vagina,' at the time," Pompeo said.

"That's where the term 'vajayjay' came from," she explained. "Shonda made up 'vajayjay' because Standards and Practices would not let us say 'vagina.' And Shonda's argument was like, 'We said "penis" in that episode 97 times. You can say "penis" 97 times but you can't say "vagina"?'"

"They were like, 'Yep, yep, that's it. You can't say "vagina,"'" she recalled. "So she came up with 'vajayjay' and that's how that problem was solved."

The scene in question aired in Feb. 2006, when Dr. Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), who had gone into labor, yelled at intern George O'Malley (T.R. Knight), "Stop looking at my vajayjay."

"So we have ABC's Standards and Practices to blame for the word 'vajayjay,'" Kimmel concluded. "Well, I'm glad we moved past that restrictive time."

Here's what other members of Grey's cast and crew recall of the incident, and for more recent TV drama, ABC Sitcom Star Quits, Calling Show a "Toxic Environment."

Read the original article on Best Life.

Shonda Rhimes says the show had capped out on its use of "vagina."

Shonda Rhimes
Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock

In a 2015 NPR interview, host Terry Gross asked Rhimes if she ever felt limited because her shows are on network TV, rather than premium cable, where there are fewer restrictions. In response, Rhimes said these boundaries, or "fences," as she calls them, often fueled her creativity.

"We're very creative within our fences, and because we have the fences, they make for very creative moments," she explained. "We come up with some stuff that I don't think any of us would've come up with had we not had the fences. … I never would've come up with the phrase 'vajayjay' had I not had the fences."

Rhimes clarified that the show was allowed to say vagina, but "I think they had said we had used it too much or something," she told Gross. "And I really had a problem with the idea that we couldn't use it because we had an episode where you could say 'penis' 17 times or something… but you could only say 'vagina' a certain number of times before somebody just had a heart attack." And for more Grey's highlights, here are 25 TV Stars Who Directed Their Own Shows.

So she fought against the Standards and Practices team, noting that it's an anatomical word.

Shonda Rhimes at the The Actors Fund's "Scandal" Finale Live Stage Reading on the El Capitan Theater on April 19, 2018 in Los Angeles, CA
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

"'This is a medical part of someone's body; it's a piece of someone's anatomy,'" Rhimes told Gross she recalled explaining. "'We actually should be calling people's body parts what they are. This seems ridiculous to me that we're saying we're offending someone's sensibility by naming something that 50 percent of the population possesses.'" And for more women's health concerns to be aware of, check out 30 Health Issues Every Woman Over 30 Should Start Looking Out For.

Though she lost the battle, Rhimes is ultimately grateful for the term.

Shonda Rhimes, Ellen Pompeo at the TGIT 2015 Premiere Event Red Carpet at the Gracias Madre on September 26, 2015 in Los Angeles, CA
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

"In the end, because there was just no more time, I had to come up with a different word, and the word we came up with was 'vajayjay,'" she explained to Gross. The small silver lining? "At the very least, what it did for many women who were never going to say the word, it gave them a language to talk about it, which I thought was helpful," she concluded. And for more words that recently came to the fore, check out 100 Slang Words That Dominated the 2010s.

"Vajayjay" made the cast crack up.

Chandra Wilson arrives to the ABC TCA Press Party 2016 on August 04, 2016 in Hollywood, CA
DFree / Shutterstock

"'Vajayjay' in the table read was a time stopper, because we laughed for I don't know how long," Wilson, who played Bailey and originated the word, wrote for Cosmopolitan in 2015. "This was one of those times where we hadn't gotten the script ahead of time, so there hadn't been any time to comment on it. The funny thing was, I had already had my son at that point, but he was young—maybe 3 or 4 months old, so I'm sitting at the read-through table with a blanket over my shoulder so I can feed him, while I read that line for the first time. So it was hilarious on a lot of levels." And for more on the less accurate moments in Grey's history, here are 17 Health Myths Perpetuated by Hollywood.

And they're proud to have made some history.

George helps Bailey deliver her baby on Grey's Anatomy
Touchstone Television

"We had a great time with it, so the fact that the audience received it and that it became something and that 'vajayjay' is in the dictionary now is the icing on the cake," Wilson wrote. "There's a little pride having introduced that word to the public! Not just me, but all of us, as a company, own that. There's so much pride in the little things like that, that we know are part of history. We love that." And for more beloved series that've made their mark, find out which is The Most Popular TV Show of All Time.

Jaimie Etkin
Jaimie is the Editor-in-Chief of Best Life. Read more
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