Tag Archives: Grey’s Anatomy

Obvious Child and the Plight of the Abortion Story

When I started thinking about this week’s Role/Reboot essay on Obvious Childthe “abortion rom com” starring comedian Jenny Slate, I started out by trying to come up with a list of contemporary mainstream abortion stories from TV or movies. Without googling or wikipedia-ing, or weighing in on the quality of these stories, here’s what I came up with:

1. Parenthood (Drew’s girlfriend Amy)

2. Grey’s Anatomy (Cristina Yang)

3. Friday Night Lights (Becky Sproles)

4. House of Cards (Claire Underwood)

…. what else have you got?

I watch a ridiculous amount of TV, so the fact that I can only come up with four…. well, that leads me to the point of my essay. For a thing that is extraordinarily common and affects literally millions of women (and also their partners), we have sooooo few examples in mainstream pop culture exploring these decisions. Obvious Child is a good step, but it’s only one story, and it’s the easiest story to get pushed through the pinhole that is a Hollywood approval process: it’s about a pretty, upper-middle class white woman. Valid story? Absolutely. The only story? The most common story? Absolutely not.



Related Post: Abortion stories

Related Post: Huffington Post and the changing iconography of the abortion debate



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The most dramatic thing to happen on Grey’s Anatomy. Ever.

More dramatic than the bomb in the guy’s chest? Than the house made of candles on the hillside? Than the plane crash that killed Lexi and Mark? Than the shooter who roamed the halls of Seattle Grace? More dramatic than the time that Meredith died? I know, right? That show is craaaaay.

Screenshot_10_28_13_11_10_PM-4Yes, what happened on Grey’s Anatomy two weeks ago was true drama (skip to 34:00). For those of you who quit this bad boy when it jumped the shark half a decade ago, Meredith and Christina are still best friends, but much else has changed [SPOILER ALERT. Ha, as if anyone waits with bated breath for Grey’s spoilers]. Meredith married Derek and they have two adorable children, Zola and baby Bailey. Christina got married and then divorced when her husband Owen couldn’t abide by her consistent refusal to have children (I mean, come on…. she told him that when they got together, but that’s not the point…) They are both still surgeons at Seattle Grace (renamed Sloane Grey Memorial).

What drama could this mundane divergence of paths produce? There were no bones protruding from skin, no organs spilling on to slick linoleum floors. Nope, no guts and gore here, just good old fashioned human drama. Christina and Meredith had planned an elaborate surgery. Meredith’s day took a turn with kiddie emergencies left and right. Christina boxed her out of the surgery and replaced her with a more prepared doctor, Dr. Bailey. And then this:

Meredith: You stole that surgery from me. 

Christina: I am sorry. I really wish you could have been in there with me. 

Meredith: I worked my ass off to do that surgery with you and you stole it from me. That was low.

Christina: Meredith, you were unprepared, you were unfocused, and you were late. I didn’t steal that surgery from you. I rescued that surgery from you, because you couldn’t do it.

Meredith: I understand that you believe you are god’s gift to medicine, but I am every bit as talented and competent a surgeon as you are.

Christina: No, you’re not. I’m sorry, but you’re not. And that’s, that’s okay. You have different priorities now. You’ve cut back on your clinical hours. You log less time in the OR, I mean, you don’t do research. And I get it, I mean, you have Zola, and baby Bailey, and you want to be a good mom.

Meredith: I don’t believe you! You are saying that I can’t be a good surgeon and a mom.

Christina: Of course not! Dr. Bailey’s a mom, and she was fantastic in there! 

Meredith: Then what are you saying? 

Christina: I’m saying, I’m saying… Bailey never let up. She lives here. Callie? Never let up. Ellis Grey [Meredith’s mother] never let up. And I know you don’t want to be your mother. I’m saying, you and I started running down the same road at the same time, and at a certain point, you let up. You slowed down. And don’t say that I don’t support that, because I do. You made your choices, and they are valid choices, but don’t pretend they don’t affect your skills. You are a very good surgeon, but we’re in different places now. And that’s okay.

Ahhhhh, oh Grey’s, I love you so. For all the deserved flack it gets for melodrama and oversimplified dialogue (whenever Shonda wants you to get an emotional point all she knows how to do is repeat it three times with different inflection. I need you. I need you. I need you. Check it, she does it on Scandal too), she does tap into the political side of female friendship with some serious know-how.

I would rather have conversations like this than landslides and biker brawl mayhem in the emergency room any day. These conversations are hard, way harder than corralling sexting interns or sobbing family members, and they feel real. Your friends will make different decisions than you would make for yourself, or than you would make for them. It’s hard, because you love them, and you trust them, but you’re scared for them, and you’re scared for yourself. You don’t know what’s right or what will happen and when someone who has been running the same race as you for a long time suddenly veers left or slows down or speeds up, it’s hard not to wonder if you should be following suit. Trying to read your own motives and values in the shadows cast by people you love and trust… that shit is complicated and lovely and challenging.

Take notes, Shonda, and keep it up.

Related Post: How Grey’s got gay marriage right. 

Related Post: How The Good Wife gets the second wave vs. third wave tension right


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Network Surprise Part 1: Grey’s Anatomy

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.

Arizona and Callie's wedding ceremony, Derek and Merideth sign the papers

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.


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Off the Map, Off My List

L-R: "Plastics," Local who can't stand the gringos, Meryl's daughter, Hot Humanitarian #1, "Girl Scout", Hot Humanitarian #2, Big Hair/Sleeping with HH#1

The trailer for new abc show Off the Map looked awful, but I was hoping that it would be so awful as to inch its way back up the thisisindexed scale and get awesome instead. Sadly, this is not the case, and Off the Map is just painfully difficult to watch. Behold:

The Premise: Three naive, beautiful doctors escape issues from their pasts by fleeing to “the jungle” to practice “third-world medicine,” where they realize that life is about more than their own petty dramas.

The best (by which I mean worst) lines:

1. “There are like three topless beaches around here. “You do not want those [gesturing at breasts] to shrivel up before their time.” Tommy “Plastics” Fuller, aka the one escaping a bad reputation and a family that thinks he’s an irresponsible buffoon (because he is).


2. Tommy: “Gringo? What’s gringo?”

Charlie (Local-boy-who-speaks-perfect-English-and-acts-as-translator): “It means white person.” THANK YOU FOR THAT CLARIFICATION.


3. Charlie: “This is the reason Americans are fat and lazy,they only drive.”

Tommy: “You know why? It’s because we invented streets for ourselves. It’s called civilization, you should really try it.”


4. “What brings you to the jungle?”Lily Brennan, aka the “girl scout” escaping the ghost of her dead fiance.


5. “You don’t know anything about me!” – Tommy. Gee, nobody has ever used THAT line before.


6. “They’ve got a cage match out there, scorpion vs. tarantula… I just lost 50 pesos!”Mina Menard, aka the one who is escaping her past in which she killed a kid due to medical malpractice (played by Meryl Streep’s daughter, Mamie Gummer)

7. Patient: Life has a way of changing your plans

Lily: Yeah, it does.” SO INSIGHTFUL.


8. Lily: You’re going to put coconut in his veins?

Ben (experienced/superhandsome doc): The water from green coconuts has the same electrolyte balance as blood plasma. DUH.


I am disappointed in you, Shonda Rhimes. You who brought us McDreamy, McSteamy and Meredith Grey, this is the best you can do? It’s total save-the-world, ethno-ambiguous (they never say what “third world” country they are in!) schlock. And you, Zach Gilford, Matt Saracen of my dreams, this is what you pick as your follow-up to Friday Night Lights?

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