5/4/08

Grey's Anatomy is back... with lesbians!

Since I started writing for this blog, I’ve wanted to write something about one of my favorite shows, Grey’s Anatomy. The problem was that I could never figure out what to say about Grey’s that would fit the theme of a website called “Lesbiatopia.” I mean, I could go on about how hot Kate Walsh is, but that’s kind of like telling you that the sky is blue… and anyway, she’s not technically on the show anymore. I could relate stories about how my friend and I used to watch this show, and rank the girls in order of hotness. (Addison usually won, followed by Callie.) But let's pretend that I’m not really that shallow.

However, thanks to this week’s episode, which I’m sure has already inspired tons of fan fic, I can legitimately write about Grey’s Anatomy on a site called “Lesbiatopia.”



It seems as though Ms. Rhimes and her cohorts have finally run out of combinations of people who can sleep together on this show, leaving themselves with no choice but to resort to – gasp – lesbianism! For those of you out of the loop, or even those of you who prefer to watch Tina Fey over Patrick Dempsey on Thursday nights, I’ll fill you in. It seems our girl Callie, who is recently divorced from George (after he cheated on her with Izzie), has unwittingly fallen for her new colleague – heart surgeon extraordinaire and Cristina’s alias nemesis, Erica Hahn. The two have been seen gal-paling around the hospital, sharing drinks at Joe’s, and polishing off intimate bottles of wine in Cristina's living room. The catch is Callie doesn’t seem to know she’s fallen for Erica, and doesn’t want to know. Addison, in all of her special guest star wisdom, points this out to us by asking Callie about Hahn, which causes her to collapse in a fit of giggles and to continually stammer the word “penis.” Later, Callie attempts to further prove her heterosexuality by going home from Joe’s with Sloane, which unfailingly makes Erica jealous. You got all that? Good, now we can talk about it.

Undoubtedly, this episode will raise many questions among fans, critics, and many others who overanalyze television. If some of the forum posters on Television Without Pity are to be believed, Grey’s does indeed have a political agenda, and is using this storyline as a soapbox to preach about gay rights. Others on the forums are convinced that the writers are turning Hahn into a manipulative bitch, because she is seducing a woman who claims to be heterosexual. Critics for publications such as Entertainment Weekly are a bit disgruntled about the fact that Grey’s is following a trend started by many other TV shows and movies, by using “late on set lesbianism” as a “plot device.”

However, I’m going to go out on a limb here and presume that the crafty folks over in the Grey’s Anatomy writers’ room are doing none of the above. Grey’s has always included its share of gay, lesbian and transgendered characters, mostly in the form of patients at the hospital. It’s perfectly plausible that a character like Callie could find herself falling for a close friend like Erica – especially on a show where romantic entanglements are the name of the game. Remember, this is the same girl who rushed into a shotgun marriage with George, and then fought like hell to keep him around, even though she knew deep down that they weren’t right for each other. She even managed to completely mess up her job as chief resident in the process. She doesn’t strike me as someone who is completely sure what she wants in life OR love. As for Hahn, well, all we know about her is that she does heart surgeries and likes to torture Cristina.

It seems as though this storyline may be just what this show needs to get back to the top of its game. Let’s face it – recent plot developments, as well as all of the rotating cast members have rendered Grey’s downright lame in the past few months. Addison’s departure, the death of Meredith’s mother, Joe’s mysterious disappearance, and the addition of Meredith’s boring sister have certainly not helped things. A new romance between two characters who have never tried to date before (as opposed to Derek and Meredith getting back together for the 47th time) is just what this show needs. It certainly helps, too, that Sara Ramirez and Brooke Smith have more chemistry in one scene together than Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo have had in four years of scenes together.


Besides all of the giggly, squee-worthiness of a developing lesbian relationship with good chemistry (and hot women), what is most remarkable about this storyline is how unremarkable it is – at least in its own fictional world. In the grand scheme of television, including a happy lesbian couple formed out of two regular, semi-lead characters on a prime time, network, top ten drama is HUGE. Sure, thanks to the legacy of Will & Grace, gay men are popping up in more places than ever before (at least, they are on ABC) - places like Brothers and Sisters, Ugly Betty, and Desperate Housewives. The only place we usually see lesbians are in the form of guest stars during sweeps, and on cable reality shows. However, in the fictional world of Seattle Grace, one more new romance, whatever form it’s going to take, is just a part of everyday life. Nobody even gave it a second thought when Joe introduced us to his boyfriend, and I suspect that if Callie and Erica become an item, the only person who will think it’s extraordinary is Callie herself – which is exactly the way it should be.

I can only hope that I’m right in my predictions, and that the writers actually are leading us to the climax (no pun intended) this developing story arc suggests. Hopefully, this time will be different from all of the other times network television has attempted to realistically portray lesbian characters, and they won’t drop this storyline once all of the sweeps dust settles. Despite my recent apathy towards this show, I’m once again putting my faith in Shonda and co., and I hope they come up with something great.

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