What my TV habits say about me: Grey’s Anatomy

Grey’s is another show that’s been dear to my heart since my freshman year of college, way back in season two. I’ve even been one of those people who considered the medical profession because of how much I love this show. And then I remembered that the only people who need medical help are those who are sick or injured, and I don’t think I have the stamina to do that forever.

If you don’t watch this show, your understanding of it is probably that it’s a wildly popular medical drama starring Patrick Dempsey that is currently a critical joke. And honestly, that’s pretty accurate. It’s been years since Grey’s has really been nominated. Many viewers tune in for the Sexy Actors and the crazy medical storylines. And that’s fine. If that’s your thing, that’s fine.

But one thing that has always endeared this show to me is the fact that all of the characters are consistently struggling. They’re struggling with their own problems in addition to going to the hospital every day and performing insane surgeries. It’s no surprise that some of them have gone off the deep end at times, really. Some people chalk that up to “there’s always drama,” but to someone who’s watched this show for going on six years, it means that I’ve watched these characters struggle with their problems and their friends’ problems for years. No one gets cut a break – ever. Even when they get what they want, life isn’t magically better. They make mistakes and lie to each other about it. They lie to themselves about it. And when the truth comes out, things don’t always get better. Frequently, they get worse. Characters don’t always grow because of it. Sometimes. But sometimes they’re making the same mistakes several years later.

And that’s life, I think. We’re frequently faced with expectations of perfection, to be like “the people on TV.” These are people who know what they want, but they don’t know how to get it. Or sometimes what they think they want is wrong. These characters are flawed, and when they fall, they fall hard. People die because of mistakes. Not just patients. We’ve lost several main characters due, in the narrative, to traumatic deaths, illnesses, inability to cope with life, etc. Grey’s doesn’t quite have the same “no one is safe” mentality of Lost, but no one is spared tragedy, that’s for sure.

Every now and then I’ll catch an old episode on rerun, and I’ll be reminded of how much the characters have grown. Not changed, but grown. And that’s realistic, too, because they usually haven’t learned from their first mistakes. Isn’t that how it always goes? You mess up once with emotions and people, and no matter how much you try not to do it again, you usually do.

As someone who’s made more than her fair share of mistakes in the past five years, this is a show that reminds me that this is life and people move on and that it’s going to be okay eventually. It’s also been a good reminder to me that you can’t hurt people’s feelings and sweep it under the rug, which is so tempting now that we have so many electronic channels of communication. How much easier is it to text an apology to someone instead of owning up to your mistakes? Exactly. Watching Grey’s reminds me that people get hurt and stay hurt – sometimes for a long time. Sometimes an unreasonably long time – but then again, that’s still life.

At its heart, Grey’s is a show that pulls out our deepest dark and twisty moments. It reminds us that we all have our own problems and that we can’t hide from them forever. It reminds us that examining our faults is hard and it’s not easy, but it has to be done.

And this show has really, really great music. No one can deny that.

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