Sandra Oh and Kevin McKidd

Despite being involved in a love triangle this season on Grey's Anatomy, fan favorites Cristina (Sandra Oh) and Owen (Kevin McKidd) have a bright future, executive producer Shonda Rhimes tells TVGuide.com exclusively.

"There is absolutely hope for Cristina and Owen," she says. "They clearly love each other."

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Dr. Teddy Altman (Kim Raver), who still harbors feelings for wartime pal Owen, has been standing in the way of that hope this season — and that has agitated fans. "It's been very interesting to watch everyone twittering," Rhimes says. "I'm really glad everyone cares that much. Seriously, I'm glad they have that strong of a reaction to what's going on."

"It's interesting that the assumption is that we're attempting to break up Cristina and Owen, or that Teddy is somehow going to be the instrument of that. I think that fans are used to stories being told a certain way, so I get it."

Just because there is hope, doesn't mean there isn't impending trouble for the couple, some of which Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) will have to protect Cristina from. "Meredith is a fairly fierce protector of Cristina and I love that," continues Rhimes. "In a lot of ways, she's the instrument of whatever happens next in the triangle. Cristina is her person and she's trying to take care of her the best she can."

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So if Cristina and Owen have a happy future, why continue the drama? "A lot of happy people on the show make for a lot of happy people and not much show," jokes Rhimes. "I don't really understand the real fervent desire for everybody to be in healthy relationships. Just because they're facing obstacles and we're waiting to see what's going to happen with them, that doesn't mean that they can't have a happy ending. But why does their happy ending have to happen right now?"

Are you happy to hear Teddy won't stand in Cristina and Owen's way?