The prolific showrunner tells THR that she approached the final Season 5 episode as a season finale and not a series finale.
Private Practice showrunner Shonda Rhimes is optimistic that the ABC medical drama will return for a sixth installment and approached writing the final episode of the Kate Walsh starrer's fifth year as a season finale instead of a series finale.
After losing its cushy post-Grey's Anatomy time slot earlier this season and relocating to Tuesdays to make way for Rhimes' Scandal, the drama needed a week to gain its footing but has performed well in its new home, following Dancing With the Stars. And like everything else on ABC's lineup, is awaiting news about its future, with a decision likely to come this week.
"I'm never going to say that I absolutely know it's coming back until the network tells me that it's coming back but I'm hopeful," Rhimes tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I feel like we've done our job for the network for a very long time and we're continuing to do it. It's really great to know that we have done better in that time slot and held more audience than has ever been held before coming out of the Dancing With the Stars results show and I hope the network recognizes that."
This season, Addison (Walsh) finally has what she's always wanted -- a baby, though it came in a rather circuitous fashion. After unsuccessfully attempting in vitro fertilization, her patient Judy ends up electing the doc who delivered her baby to be his adoptive parent. While Addison has achieved her ultimate goal of becoming a mother, Rhimes notes that the she still has to make the ultimate decision: choosing between two stand-up guys in Jake (Benjamin Bratt) and Sam (Taye Diggs).
"I approached [final episode of the season] as if I was writing a season finale, not a series finale," Rhimes says. "We did leave some questions unanswered and I think that was the only way for me to do it. I refused to go with the idea that this was the end of the show."
While the prolific showrunner behind Grey's Anatomy and the network's freshman entry, Scandal, was tight-lipped on what would remain unanswered, she did tease that viewers could "potentially see more story" on the topic of the show's big love triangle between Addison, Jake and Sam and stressed the growth of Private's female characters this season.
With Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) set to give birth to a son who is developing without a brain, Charlotte (KaDee Strickland) and Coop (Paul Adelstein) adjusting to being full-time parents to Mason as well as Violet (Amy Brenneman) and Pete (Tim Daly) growing closer, Rhimes described the finale as "really profound."
"What's beautiful about the finale is we discover new things about our characters and watch our characters discover things about themselves and we realize that the women in the show -- Violet, Charlotte, Addison and Amelia -- are all in very different places than they were when we started this year," she says. "We discovered how much they've grown and how much they've been fundamentally changed and that's exciting."
Private Practice airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m., its fifth-season finale airs May 15. What do you want to see happen?