Seriously, I Can’t Take Grey’s Anatomy Seriously Essay
A Star is Born
When the TV series Grey’s Anatomy first came out in 2005, I was a huge fan. Those first couple seasons I looked forward to the show every week. I loved the characters and the story lines. As an added bonus, they always had great music featured. Grey’s was definitely one of my household’s absolute favorite shows.
I was in the Air Force at that time, serving at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio. I am an Occupational Therapist, and worked with both OTs, and Physical Therapists, and therapy assistants. We always had at least one therapist or therapy assistant deployed to Iraq, sometimes more. One of their top requests was to record Gray’s Anatomy for them and keep them up-to-date.
In 2007 along came the spin-off, Private Practice. Add another “can’t miss” show to my viewing list. Two great medical shows with intriguing story lines, and captivating characters, and occasional crossover episodes. I was “all in”.
Fast forward to 2012. I no longer watched Grey’s or Private Practice. For me, they had jumped the shark. Practice had been removed from our DVR recording line-up. We continued to record Grey’s because my brother still watched (for a couple more years), but when I was not around. By 2013, Private Practice had ended. Grey’s continued on.
The Problem with Medical Shows
I guess there have always been, and always will be, problems with medically-themed shows for those of us with a medical background. I was a M*A*S*H devotee in the 70s and 80s. I watched it in prime time, and I watched it in re-runs. When it first came out I was in junior high and blessed with ignorant bliss. By the early 80s I was an x-ray tech. I would catch occasional bloopers, like x-ray films hanging backwards, or even upside down. There were definitely x-rays that were not representative of what they were supposed to be. But I only caught these things occasionally and continued to be a huge fan of the show.
When ER came along in 1994, it elevated the “medical genre” to a whole new level. Gone was the dramedy of M*A*S*H, replaced by unadulterated drama, and a welcome level of sophistication. The fast-paced tension of the ER was palpable at all the right times, and the characters were compelling. Eye candy like George Clooney didn’t hurt either. I suppose there were the occasional distractions, like an actor pronouncing a medical term in a peculiar way, but on the whole, I was extremely happy with ER.
I was stationed overseas when ER launched, not returning stateside until 1997. It was definitely on my request list for the folks back home to record and send. I continued to watch ER until it ended in 2009. With my jaundiced-eyed Grey’s experience, would I now find ER shark-y as well if I watched it anew?
Enter Grey’s Anatomy
When Grey’s Anatomy came along in 2005, I think my initial reaction was, “Ah, competition for ER.” The teasers leading up to the premiere were very effective, and I started watching from the beginning. I continued to be an ER loyalist, but Grey’s offered new characters to care about. Even the most die-hard of ER fans would have to admit that the impetus faded after the loss of doctors Mark Greene, Doug Ross, and John Carter.
I have to admit, there were a host of little annoyances with Grey’s from the very beginning. Right away it struck me that the residents seemed to have an awful lot of free time. Sure the show portrayed the stressful and grueling schedules of the residents and surgeons. Their schedules however were also peppered with a totally unrealistic amount of free time. I can assure you busy residents, assigned to different services, do not just knock off at noon so that they can lunch in the cafeteria with their friends. When Callie came on board, I noticed right away that she seemed to be completely unsupervised. Even a very senior orthopedic resident would not be cavorting around without an attending.
There were plenty of discrepancies and minor annoyances, but I was so invested in the characters, and entertained by the drama of the story lines, that I was very forgiving.
Jumping the Shark
So I enjoyed Gray’s Anatomy for 4 or 5 years. Then the medical implausibility of the story lines really started to interfere with my enjoyment of the show. It wasn’t just a minor hiccup here and there, it was multiple transgressions every single episode. Things both big and small made me cry “Foul!” “Shenanigans!” “Oh, come on!” And the practically immortalized “Seriously?!” Did I mention I cried these out loud? Oh yeah, not only did I no longer enjoy the show, but my indignation pretty much spoiled the show for anyone in the room.
The distractions were no longer just small annoyances, nor occasional. There were many, and I fell out of love with Gray’s. Residents and attendings performed surgeries from numerous specialties and sub-specialties with expert precision one week, and had to be talked through basics the next. Surgeons survived not only fire-able offenses, but career-ending ones. Surgeons suddenly are doing big studies, along with their regular duties, and don’t appear harried in the least. And the mortality rates- of the staff!
End of an Era
I could go on and on, but the point is, Grey’s became too implausible for me. So implausible that I no longer cared enough about the characters to continue watching. After all, they perpetrated the fraud. Are medical dramas forever ruined for me? I guess I’ll have to wait for the next great medical drama, and see if it moves me, or annoys me. Will I even care enough to watch at all?
But wait! What’s this?! As I reviewed clips from Grey’s I realized the show has always been brimming with implausibilities, from its earliest days. Those same early days that I anxiously awaited each week’s episode. Did my brain have a saturation point, a point where I could no longer suspend my disbelief? By the time of the big plane crash in 2012, I was quickly approaching my divorce from Grey’s. I mourn the loss of Grey’s a little bit, but I had to part ways. But fear not fans, Grey’s Anatomy soldiers on.