Seriously, those poor medical students and doctors have had some run of terrible luck. Here's just the stuff I can recall off the top of my head
Yang falls for some guy who dies
Izzy marries rich guy who has cancer he dies
George gets hit by bus. Dies
Izzy gets cancer. Almost dies leaves
Insane grieving man shoots the place up and kills 2 docs and shoots dr dreamy
Callie and Arizona crash their car and almost die
Robbins cancer hubby dies
Grey and Karev in ambulance crash
Almost every one in a plane crash. Little grey dies. Dr steamy near dead. Robbins near dead. Dreamy nearly dead
I don't know much about the early history of the show. But after a couple of years if avoiding it while my wife watched I wound up watching too. I feel no shame about it. It's a tv show. Most tv shows that aren't overhyped game shows (looking at you Survivor) will have to focus on human relationships. So while the comment about it being a soap opera is usually intended as a mild jab. It's true in the sense that pretty much any tv show that isnt based on robots killing each other is some kind of soap opera.
I'm still happy to claim I've never watched more than about 1 minute of survivor before changing he channel.
I'm still watching Grey's Anatomy faithfully, and enjoyed the season finale even though it made me cry. Twice.
I think the show jumped the shark when Katherine Heigl's character started seeing, and having sex with, her dead husband. I understand the show's writers may have regretted killing the Denny character off or maybe they thought the dead husband story was a good idea, but I didn't. Shark jumped.
That being said, I stuck with it and I think it's improved a lot since then.