1. Other cities were in the running as the show’s backdrop Shonda Rhimes wanted the show to take place in a big city where surgeons would come for big opportunities. “This is not a small town life. Big city, big medical center, big surgical opportunities,” Rhimes said in a recent Master Class. She thought about placing the medical drama in Chicago, her hometown, but didn’t want to place it in the same city as “ER.” “Seattle felt fresh to me,” Rhimes said. “Seattle felt like a city I hadn’t seen in television a lot.” 2. Rhimes has a casting rule to keep her.