Your favorite mid-'00s shows collided on Jan. 18 when One Tree Hill's Haley James checked into Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. OK, so there wasn't actually a crossover between the seminal CW series and the ABC medical soap, but it was close. How many Grey's Anatomy episodes is Bethany Joy Lenz in? While fans of the bygone teen drama will likely be hoping for an extended stay from Lenz, it seems like her character has only checked in for a short visit.
News of Lenz's casting first broke in October of 2017 via The Hollywood Reporter, just one day after it was announced that series regular Martin Henderson had abruptly left the show. The One Tree Hill casting coup was enough to salve the wound of Riggs' departure for some excited viewers, who eagerly awaited details of Lenz's arc; but at the time, details were scarce. THR could only report that, "The actress will have a guest arc on the show's 14th season and play Jenny. In typical Shondaland fashion, character details are being kept under wraps. A total number of episodes is also being kept under lock and key."
It wasn't until Jan. 15, three days before the Season 14 midseason premiere, that TVLine was finally able to reveal who Lenz would be playing — the new fiancée of Jo Wilson's abusive ex-husband — but the number of episodes she would appear in remained a mystery.
Of course, the Jan. 18 episode (titled "1-800-799-7233" after the National Domestic Violence Hotline) ended with quite the cliffhanger, as Jo's ex, Dr. Paul Stadler (Glee's Matthew Morrison), was admitted to Grey Sloan after being the victim of a hit-and-run. That would certainly seem to imply that Paul and Jenny's storyline on Grey's is far from over, and will continue at least into the Jan. 25 episode. But how far from over? Is this a short arc that will wrap up in two episodes, or an extended stay that could last the rest of the season?
While One Tree Hill acolytes are likely hoping for the latter, it seems the former is true. The press release for the tenth episode of the season, "Personal Jesus," reads, "A young boy is admitted to Grey Sloan Memorial and his case has a profound impact on the doctors. Meanwhile, April is faced with a surprising patient, and Jo continues to deal with her estranged husband," and lists Morrison and Lenz as Guest Stars. But both Morrison and Lenz are absent from both of the press releases for the following two episodes, implying that the Paul storyline is a two-episode arc that will wrap up after the Jan. 25 hour.
Even if Jenny's stay is just a short one, One Tree Hill fans should be thrilled that Lenz finally and officially made her Shondaland debut after a couple of close calls that never came to pass. In 2014, Lenz was cast in the E! pilot Songbyrd, an hour-long musical drama created by former Grey's head writer Krista Vernoff loosely based on the life of songwriting icon Diane Warren. Ultimately, the network passed on the pilot and the show never made it to air. (Vernoff returned to Grey's for Season 14 after a decade-long absence, and could have had a hand in Lenz's casting.)
The year after Songbyrd was grounded, Lenz was cast in the pilot of ABC's new Shondaland show The Catch; but after the series was picked up and roles were recast (a not-uncommon part of the pilot process), Lenz was replaced by Lost alum Sonya Walger. But the third time's the charm, and fortunately Lenz's casting on Grey's stuck, allowing viewers everywhere to have nostalgic flashbacks to 2005, when Grey's debuted and One Tree Hill was wrapping up its second season on the WB.
Lenz's time on Grey's may be brief, but at least it's memorable.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.