“You take your shirt off in front of everybody, and then after a couple seconds, it’s just a normal day at the office, you know?,” Grey’s Anatomy star Jake Borelli says with a laugh before filming the upcoming fifteenth episode of his ABC drama's fifteenth season. As one of the horny TV doctors of Grey Sloan Memorial, Borelli is one of the few people in the world whose day at the office does truly encompass “just like, a pair of underwear or a pair of pants,” as he recalls, on the regular.
Borelli, who plays newbie Grey’s intern Levi Schmitt, is meditating on one of his many sex scenes with newcomer Alex Landi, who plays muscley resident Nico Lang. Remember, the burgeoning couple — whose ship name is officially “Schmico,” which is “the most adorable thing I’ve ever heard,” Borelli gushes — first hooked up in 2018 midseason finale “Blowin' in the Wind.” But, when we return to Schmico in 2019 premiere “Shelter From the Storm,” they’re still fairly shirtless. The guys only throw on their scrubs when acting chief Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) accidentally barges in on their ambulance love nest.
“I want to explore everything with them,” Borelli explains of Levi and Nico, Grey’s first major gay relationship between two male doctors in its 15-season history. Unsurprisingly, the performer, who is also queer, “felt the pressure, but also the excitement” of bringing the landmark story to life. Especially since showrunner Krista Vernoff called Borelli over the summer of 2018 to reveal the season 15 coming out arc she was planning for his character. Soon enough, the pair and another Grey’s scribe were in a meeting talking about Borelli’s personal experience as a queer man.
Months later, he's looking at the fruits of his, Landi’s, and the Grey’s writing team’s labor. “I hope we see a lot of ups and downs with them, as you see in any relationship. I hope at a certain point, the fact they’re two guys doesn’t matter as much,” Borelli, a longtime fan of the historic queer Callie (Sara Ramirez)-Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) relationship, said of Schmico. “That’s such a beautiful thing that Shondaland and the writers of Grey’s Anatomy have done with all of their relationships. They become so nuanced and so special and unique that I’m excited to see what happens.”
That’s why Borelli appreciated Karev’s reaction to finding Levi and Nico in a state of post-coital surprise in the ambulance. Rather than bristling at happening upon two men who definitely just had sex, Karev admonishes the doctors for unprofessional behavior… and then shares the details of a few better hookup spots.
“He’s like this big scary man … you don’t know what his reaction is going to be. That was such a beautiful moment that they created there, that he treated us just like everybody else,” Borelli says, an obvious smile in his voice. When the actor looks back on the scene he adds, “We definitely got permission to continue our relationship.”
So should we expect to see Schmico getting it on in one of the Karev-approved on-call rooms or that weird little radiology room on the fourth floor? Borelli was tight-lipped on the subject, but did confirm the pairing is “just taking [their] first steps into a possible relationship.”
That tease makes sense as the greatest tension of Schmitt and Nico’s relationship is just how different their lives are. Nico, as he repeatedly says throughout season 15, has been out for some time and dated around. Schmitt, on the other hand, only just realized his sexuality upon meeting Nico — that’s the entire point of his memorable “Shelter” speech, which Borelli “literally jumped up and down” with joy over after reading for the first time. It’s no surprise Schmico is just starting to figure things out.
“As an audience member, I would love to see the relationship go further,” Borelli promises. “But, just like you guys, I’m going to have to wait and see what happens.”