Grey's Anatomy is the longest running medical series in television history, but it's lost some of its beloved castmates along the way, Sandra Oh among them. Despite some of her co-stars' recent cameos on the ABC drama, the actress has no plans to ever play Dr. Cristina Yang again — she's got a new character for us to fall in love with.
Oh famously played prickly cardiothoracic surgeon Cristina Yang on Grey's Anatomy from its first premiere to the end of its eventful tenth season, and it wouldn't be an understatement to say that the show never quite recovered from the actress' departure. Even as Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) made new connections at Grey Sloan Memorial over the years, fans still found themselves wishing that she would be reunited with her best friend, even after Cristina left Seattle to work at a research facility in Switzerland. Those hopes increased after recent episodes of the show featured surprise cameos from other departed characters like George O’Malley (T.R. Knight), Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh), Mark Sloan (Eric Dane), and Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey).
Hate to break it to you, but the chances of Oh coming back to Grey's Anatomy at any point going forward are slim to none. It's been almost a decade since she was last on the show, and for the Golden Globes-winner, that chapter of her life is complete.
"It’s very rare, I would say, to be able to see in such a way the impact of a character,” said Oh during an appearance on a new episode of The Times’ Asian Enough podcast. “In some ways, you do your work as a bubble and you let it go. I left that show, my God, seven years ago almost. So in my mind, it’s gone. But for a lot of people, it’s still very much alive. And while I understand and I love it, I have moved on."
Even without a Cristina cameo, we'll still be seeing a lot more of Oh, and she'll be playing characters that actually resonate with her identity as a proud Asian woman. Grey's Anatomy has definitely begun talking more openly about racism and systemic inequality in recent years, but let's be real: it just wasn't having these kinds of conversations when Oh was still on the show. Now, Oh has purposefully pivoted towards roles that speak to her experience and to her identity, one of which will take her to Netflix.
The Chair is an upcoming Netflix original comedy starring Oh as Ji-Yoon Kim, a Korean-American professor at a prestigious university who gets appointed to be the chairperson of its English department. It's no ordinary promotion, either: Professor Kim's appointment makes her the very first woman and the first person of colour to be in the position in the institution's long history. The Chair will follow the professor in her new gig and explore the hilarious but very real ways in which the university is impacted by the historic hiring. Netflix will release the six-episode first season on August 27, 2021.
We may have fallen for her as Cristina Yang, but Oh hopes that her fans will show her new works just as much as love as they've shown Grey's Anatomy over the years.
"Please come with me to Killing Eve and on to The Chair and on to the other projects,” Oh pleaded on the podcast. “Come see the characters that I’m playing that are much more deeply integrated in...the Asian American experience.”