An Ode to Grey’s Anatomy…
…or the top five reasons it is still relevant and fun!!!
As I am about to start my annual summer re-watching of Grey’s Anatomy (STOP LAUGHING MELISSA) I would like to take the time to explain its greatness and why though it is not conceptually or even quality wise the best show I watch it is my favorite show currently on TV (technically it ties with Fringe). Grey’s, as the fans call it, may not make logical sense but if you go with it and not think too much about all of the miraculous healing and never before done surgeries it can be a tremendous amount of fun. So without further ado the top five reasons Grey’s Anatomy is still a whole lot of fun, seriously!
5) Crazy disaster plots
No one does a disaster better than Grey’s! In the 8 seasons it has been on TV there has been a bus crash, homemade bomb in a body, stolen heart by an intern, ferry crash, ambulance crash, flood at the hospital, active shooter in hospital, horrendous musical episode about a car wreck which was a total disaster, sink hole in the middle of Seattle (again, stop laughing Melissa!), and last, but certainly not least, the Season 8 plane crash cliff hanger. In all honesty I could have forgotten a few, I’m sure there were more car crashes. The best by far was the active shooter in the hospital I have never in my life sat through something so visceral and powerful. The acting, writing, directing, and the show’s commitment to not back down or take the easy road in dealing with something so traumatic made for an intense three hour experience I will never forget.
4) Medical mysteries, cutting edge surgery, and craziness lead to soapy awesomeness
Let me start off number four by saying that for the most part Grey’s does all of this in every episode and that to enjoy the show you have to ignore the fact that in reality not all of this shit happens in Seattle. Ultimately you must remind yourself that if you are ever in Seattle and are injured make sure you are NOT taken to Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital because bad shit can and will happen to you if your illness is in any way connected to Meredith Grey’s innermost thoughts! I have finally mentioned Meredith Grey our narrator, our Grey in Grey’s Anatomy, the woman around whom this whole series is built. A woman who is a bad ass exceptional surgeon who often has man issues (see number 3) is our titular hero.
Meredith and the staff at Grey’s often deal with patients whose relationships or medical maladies are metaphors for the goings on at the hospital. You will be clued into this by Meredith’s voice over at the start and close of each episode. Because of their metaphorical nature all patients, patients’ family, and/or patients’ illness must be heightened for dramatic effect. This can be done very well as in the Season 2 episode about a bus crash where the female victim who ends up dying is the stand-in for the end of Meredith’s current relationship. It’s both sad and moving and because the patient is a metaphorical stand in for the relationship when she dies you feel for her as you would a character you see every week.
3) Hot guys
On Grey’s as in all soaps there is a bevy of hot, hot men. The show also does a great job of diversifying and making fun of its man candy. The number one man of Grey’s is Derek Shepherd aka Dr. McDreamy played by eighties teen movie nerd Patrick Dempsey (he aged very well). Of course he is the object of Meredith’s affection and the center of most of her drama (she also has mother and daddy issues–Meredith is kind of a mess). McDreamy has a BF, Dr. McSteamy played by the charming and heavily muscular Eric Dane. There is also Scotsman Kevin McKidd playing an ex-soldier trauma surgeon, Justin Chambers as the jerk with a heart of gold, and the very pretty Jesse Williams as Jackson Avery the grandson of a very high profile famous surgeon. And lastly if you like your gentlemen older and established there is the dashing Chief Webber played by the great character actor James Pickens, Jr.
2) Characters who are more often motivated by who they are than plot
The common denominator of crap television is that characters devoid of personality are used simply as pawns to move the plot forward. The writers don’t care if the characters decisions jive with their previously established story or personality only that the plot moves forward creating a disconnect with viewers. Grey’s has had its flights of fancy but they usually make sense for the character or characters involved. Take the Season 5 story line involving Katherine Heigl’s character Izzy having an affair with her dead fiancé Denny (yes you read that correctly). Izzy is suffering from a brain tumor but instead of using her medical background to be like “Hey, I’m seeing a dead guy I might be experiencing something medical” she kind of thinks it’s a last chance to have a relationship with her dead fiancé. I’m not really going to defend this story line as it was dumb but it did fit within the construct of Izzy’s established character and with the fear that she could have a serious medical malady (and with this show that’s most likely the case). You can criticize Grey’s for going over the top but you can’t criticize the writers for changing established character personalities to move the plot.
1) Meredith Grey and Christina Yang BFFs 4 EVA!
Grey’s was created by writer and producer Shonda Rhimes. Rhimes is the show runner for Grey’s; Scandal and Private Practice (please don’t hold that against her). She also wrote Crossroads staring Zoe Saldana and Britney Spears (I know Melissa and I have seen this but I don’t remember how we felt about it). Rhimes is an idol of mine and if I were to be honest Grey’s would defiantly be the type of show I would create if they would let me have my own TV show (I would have had at least one baby swap though, get on it Rhimes). The world she created in Grey’s is high stress and everybody regardless of societal bullshit is either learning to be incredibly skilled at their job or is incredibly skilled at their job. The best example of this and her greatest achievement as a writer is the relationship between Meredith Grey and her person Dr. Christina Yang played by Sandra Oh.
Meredith and Christina on any other show would most likely be pitted against each other, they would be enemies but on Grey’s it’s the opposite they are each other’s soul mates. Are the competitive? Yes, but that isn’t the nature of their relationship that’s the nature of surgery and their role as interns. Rhimes very smartly unites the two as interns-newbies to surgery-and has them react as real humans would by sticking together. Most shows would try and create drama from the conflict instead Grey’s creates drama from the stress of the job and every intern is in that stress together. Yes they must compete with each other for surgeries but at the end of the day they all must bond so they don’t succumb to the pressure. I remember how refreshing it was that Rhimes throws away the idea that in high-powered fields women turn against each other in the very first episode.
She has the two at first work together to solve a medical mystery that will land one of them a coveted spot in a surgery. Meredith has told Christina that if the make the discovery she can have the spot because she had inadvertently slept with their boss. Once they make the discovery their boss gives the slot to Meredith and she takes it. I remember watching this and thinking, “Here it goes, they will be adversaries for the duration while we will all love Meredith cause it’s her show and hate Christina because she is bossy and ‘type a’.” But that doesn’t happen because Christina concedes that she would have done the same thing to Meredith. My mind was blown–“Wait, these people aren’t going to be archetypes, WTF!!!” What the fuck indeed.
Grey’s is crazy and it’s not the same as it used to be now instead of interns there all real surgeons and people we loved are gone (GEORGE and LEXI!!!) but Meredith and Christina are still best friends and I will watch for as long as they are on. I will leave you with this quote from Shonda herself.
“I wanted to create a world in which you felt as if you were watching very real women. Most of the women I saw on TV didn’t seem like people I actually knew. They felt like ideas of what women are. They never got to be nasty or competitive or hungry or angry. They were often just the loving wife or the nice friend. But who gets to be the bitch? Who gets to be the three-dimensional woman?” —Shonda Rhimes Creator of Grey’s Anatomy on The Oprah Winfrey Show
*New post about the first two episodes of season 9