This is the first of a two-parter on happy surprises from the ABC networks (part 2 here). Mainstream shows have a unique ability to address hot-button issues in a digestible, relateable way. Most of the time, they abuse this power in horrendous ways (see Gossip Girl), but sometimes, the tremendous forces of tv influence are used for good. Conservative teens in red states aren’t going to watch overt “gay agenda” material like The L Word, but they just might watch Grey’s Anatomy, which is what makes the latest episode so effective.
Show: Grey’s Anatomy* – episode “White Wedding”
Issue: Gay Marriage
Plot: Last week’s episode saw the unfolding of two marriage plots. In Camp Gay, Arizona and Callie held a wedding ceremony, despite the gay marriage ban in Washington State. In Camp Straight, Meredith and Derek strolled into a judge’s office and officially signed marriage papers, an after thought to the Post-it note marriage they’ve had for months.
Analysis: This is the second time Grey’s Anatomy has played up the unfairness of straight vs. gay marriage standards. Last season, a gay couple fought for visitation rights at Seattle Grace while Dr. Altman (female) married a patient on a whim to grant him insurance. I’m pretty sure there’s a whole host of legal reasons why Altman’s plan wouldn’t work, but the point remains. Straight people don’t have to prove they’re in love or committed to get married (see: all Vegas weddings). In “White Wedding,” scenes of Meredith and Derek nonchalantly strolling into the courthouse were spliced with Callie and Arizona’s elaborate (but legally useless) ceremony. Similarly, the courthouse judge races brusquely through the legal-ese for MerDer; never addressing the right or wrong of their union. Meanwhile, at the Callie/Arizona wedding, Bailey officiates the ceremony with all of her considerable emoting power despite parental disapproval and lack of legal clout.
Maybe this is Grey‘s attempt to undo the Isaiah Washington hate-speech fiasco from 2006. Or maybe girls making out just makes for good ratings.
Part 2: Reproductive rights on abcfamily’s Make It or Break It here.
*Yes, I know that Grey’s jumped the freaking shark when Meredith “died” and came back. Saner people than I am dropped the show on the spot. Alas, I have tv attachment issues. F you guys, it’s been great this season.
Related Post: A brief defense of Sex and the City from haters who only see the stilettos.
Related Post: It’s speeches like this that make it hard to argue against gay marriage… and yet, somehow, people still do.