All The Ways 'Grey's Anatomy' Season 11 Is Just Like Season 1, Because The Show Has Totally Come Full Circle

When a television show manages to make it past its first year, that's impressive. When a show makes it all the way to its 11th season, that's remarkable. And when a show not only is still churning out episodes 11 years in, but is actually still good? Well, that's amazing — and it's exactly what Grey's Anatomy is all about right now. The ABC drama has been on the air since 2005, and although the quality of its episodes have varied (ghost sex, anyone?), the current season is one of its best in years. Each new hour is smart, funny, must-watch TV, with storylines (Flashbacks! Earthquakes!) and characters (Maggie! Amelia!) that are just as compelling as those of years past.

So how, exactly, is Grey's still so strong, so many seasons in? By returning to the formula that made it such a hit in its early days — specifically, the plotlines, drama and structure of season 1. Seriously: the Grey's of today is bringing back hardcore memories of its first few episodes in everything from the doctors' marriages to its female friendships, and while it's certainly causing some major deja-vu, it's clearly a wise choice; the show is the best it's been in years. Here's how Grey's is channeling its very first season:

Meredith and Derek's Relationship Is Unclear

2005: Everything was going well (well, except for the fact that Derek was her boss) until his wife showed up in the season finale, making things a little complicated.

2015: After a lot of fighting, Derek moved to D.C. for a job, and he and Mer have been struggling ever since. She doesn't know if he's happy or if he wants to see her, and the fact that a woman answered his phone when she called him only adds to their ever-growing problems.

The Gang Is Forming

2005: The interns — Meredith, Cristina, Izzie, George, and Alex — didn't all get along immediately, but soon their bond became obvious and a close friendship was formed.

2015: With all their friends either gone or dead, Meredith and Alex are forming a new group, with Maggie, Amelia, Callie, Jo and Stephanie as their new comrades. They eat lunch together, sleep at each other's houses, and confide their most embarrassing secrets to each other while performing complicated surgeries. It's just like old times!

The Chief Is A Father Figure

2005: Webber treated Meredith like a daughter right from the start, cheering for her rise in the surgical ranks and disapproving of her unwise relationship with her boss. He also yelled at all the interns when they all got syphilis and made them go to Sex Ed, looking every bit as ashamed as a real father would be of his kids if they'd done something that stupid.

2015: Over the years, Richard evolved into the truest father figure Meredith ever had, and now, he's also taking a special interest in Maggie, his biological daughter. He also keeps an eye on all the other doctors, whether it's coaching Amelia through surgery or letting Bailey cry into his jacket.

Everyone Crashes At Each Other's Houses

2005: It was technically Meredith's house, but more often than not, Izzie, George, Cristina and Derek slept there, as well.

2015: With Derek away, Meredith is spending nights at Alex's (um, who's watching the kids?), and frequently, so are Callie, Arizona, and several of the others.

Everyone Wants To Be Chief

2005: Back in season 1, one of the main conflicts was who — Shepherd or Burke — got to be Chief of Surgery once Webber retired.

2015: Sure, Owen is the real Chief of the hospital, but early episodes this season saw Derek and Amelia argue over who got to be the Chief of Neurosurgery, with the male Shepherd even going so far as to "let it slip" that Amelia is a recovering addict.

Alex Is Still Growing Up

2005: As an intern, Alex was mean, immature, and selfish, leading him to learn lessons, like not talking about a patient behind her back or embarrassing a fellow intern in front of other doctors, the hard way.

2015: The Alex of today has come a long way since season 1, but he still has some growing up to do; just recently, he took out his anger about the lost Board position on the wrong people and didn't understand what being Meredith's replacement "person" was really about.

Someone From The Past Is Causing Trouble

2005: The best cliffhanger of 2005 was Addison showing up at the hospital and telling Meredith, "you must be the woman who's been screwing my husband."

2015: Last season's jawdropper of a finale saw Maggie, the biological daughter of Ellis Grey and Richard Webber, show up at the hospital. Ever since, she's been causing issues, albeit unintentionally; the sweet doctor's appearance has led to Richard and Meredith questioning everything they knew about their pasts. Thankfully, though, the drama's calmed down, and Maggie is a much more welcome presence at Sloan-Grey Memorial than Addison Montgomery was way back when.

Images: ABC