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My Favourite TV Shows - 2: Grey's Anatomy

Posted on the 27 September 2011 by Crapblog @crapblog
My Favourite TV Shows - 2: Grey's Anatomy

I didn’t actually start watching Grey’s until this year. I never watched it before because I hadn’t liked any medical dramas I’d seen. However, having watched the first episode, I could see that this was different. It was addictive. It was well-written, well-directed and featured characters which were both relatable and endearing. I have since watched all 7 series of the show. Twice. It sort of reminded me of Brothers & Sisters, a show whose script was always excellent, but with the added bonus of a hospital setting as well as characters who were closer in age and career progression to me.

There is in fact a lot about Grey’s which I shouldn’t like. Each episode starts and ends with a prologue and an epilogue, a la One Tree Hill. However rather than it featuring a 16 year old preaching about life values, it’s normally a surgeon talking about being a surgeon, which is obviously far less pretentious and so does not annoy me. The drama is also relationship based, which is not normally what I consider ‘great’ TV. However, for some reason, the way in which everything is done appeals to me.

The characters are the show’s major strength. The broad range of characters is a huge asset to the show, as is the depth within each individual. What is refreshing is that the show’s main character, Meredith, is not the happy-go-lucky type. She is, as she describes herself, ‘dark and twisty’. The reasons for her issues are well known, and so when we see her positive side, it’s always refreshing. In the dark and twisty club with Meredith are Cristina and Alex, the other two interns who had rough childhoods. These characters contrast well with George and Izzy. The dynamic of this group of people who are forced together by necessity and 80 hour work weeks is fascinating, best exemplified by the fact that Izzy chooses to tell Cristina about her cancer, starting by saying ‘I know you don’t like me much’. There’s a family dynamic to the relationships, whereby some of them don’t like each other, but don’t have much choice but to care for one another.

The examination of how each character’s personality translates to their jobs, and how they act as doctors is also interesting. There’s Cristina, who always remains cold and detached at one end of the spectrum, and Izzy, who was at one point engaged to a patient at the other. The fact that both ‘styles’ seem to be valued for different reasons constantly brings up the argument as to which is better. The competitive edge to the relationships make them all the more compelling, with most of the interns more than willing to sacrifice friendships for surgeries. As a result, the dialogue is never soppy and melodramatic. It is more like the dialogue you find in real life, with the interns making fun of each other, discussing relationships and work. When it does get serious, it’s always plausible. Unlike One Tree Hill which juxtaposes serious issues with a high school setting, Grey’s remains credible due to the hospital setting where it often is life or death.

Credit for the characters must be given to the writers. Obviously the actors help, but the writers are brilliant. It is not only the dialogue which is sound, but the stories too. The twists and turns in relationships are intriguing. The patient stories and the medical journeys are captivating. I have no idea if they are realistic, but whether they are or not, they add an element of fantasy and wonder to a show based on real life. Furthermore, they have created characters which are not only compelling, but also funny. George has always been comical for his unwavering lack of cool. Cristina’s demeanor is another source of humour. The sight of her poor attempts to interact with kids in order to impress the paediatric attending was an actual LOL moment.

I think the biggest credits to the writers are the finales of seasons five and six. The former was a true master class in emotive storytelling. Izzy and Alex’s wedding, followed by her making it through an impossible surgery, only to then die in Alex’s arms was amazing. George turning out to be the bus collision victim was completely out of the blue, and truly stunning. In contrast with this, the season 6 finale showed that the Grey’s team can do suspense just as well as 24, or any other show. The shooting episodes, and the twists involved were nail-biting. The fact that no major characters dies was a little unrealistic, but the journey to that point was thrilling. The action and aftermaths of both these episodes stripped away layers of the characters to reveal new attributes and display a deeper level of what makes them, and it’s this ever-present characterization which is so brilliant.

A word must be said about all the characters who aren't interns. There are winning characters all over the place; Shepherd, Sloan, Bailey, Torres to name but a few. They provide a refreshing backdrop to the interns we have grown up with since the beginning, and as we begin to like them, there importance grows as well, giving us exactly what we want.

Overall I think it’s a great show and I’m very excited about its return. I have often said that I would have done science A-Levels and become a surgeon if I’d seen the show earlier. Unfortunately I’m resigned to learning about craniotomies, thoracotomies and cholecystectomies from a TV show.

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