You know how they say life is a compilation of ups and downs, loads of happiness and sadness and then it all works out eventually? Well, Grey’s Anatomy makes you feel like you’re sitting on a ceaselessly running massage chair where ups last for all of 2 minutes and the downs stretch on for years, and that weird massage-y thing in the back keeps scrubbing into your back until you get all itchy. You shake from the anticipation (read: terror) before the show begins and then from having been on the weirdest ride of your life when the show ends. Now, Grey’s Anatomy is a critically acclaimed show, about to graduate onto its thirteenth season so there must be something it is doing right. So, for all my annoyance with the show, I do enjoy it: the drama, the infighting and the messed up relationships they seem to keep forming and breaking up. But the show, for me, is more of a guilty pleasure than anything else. Writing that sentence made me flush and look around nervously to see if anyone saw me type this in. Perhaps not the best idea to accept that in a blog open to the world…..
“So, you can waste your life crossing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them.”
But, anyway, I must confess that I haven’t yet watched the show in its entirety. It was more like an occasional meal-time occupation. And then it became so Pavlovian that I salivated when I watched the show (no thanks to Sloan) and soon I felt shameful eating without putting on Grey’s Anatomy. Either way, like I do with other shows and ruin them for people who are nice enough to read my reviews, I won’t be able to do that this time. Somewhere my consistently shrinking readership is heaving a collective sigh (Could I be more needy??). Onto the show, though. The plot of a Grey’s Anatomy episode abounds in terms of plot holes and frustrations on the part of the viewers as the characters consistently fuck up. But the excellence of the show lies in the fact that it is simply carried by the drama the show is infused with. The writers have constructed a script that contains, spews out and carries itself with dignity in the midst of such drama that it forces the viewer to keep their eyes glued to the screen, despite how much they (or I) might hate themselves through it.
Another thing that the creators have got spot-on is the chemistry between the cast. In TV dramas that are centered around a singular character, House of Cards, Castle, Peaky Blinders, what have you, it is considerably easier to maintain the intensity of inter-character relations because of how interactions between minor characters can be easily brushed aside and aren’t as important. In Grey’s Anatomy, though, much like a sitcom with multiple central characters, to keep up the intensity of the relations becomes a much greater challenge, one which the show passes with flying colors. The roles and the positions taken by each character are well defined—you can see the different roles Meredith takes on while communicating with Derek or Christina or Lexie, the manner in which Richard Weber has to appear as an individual with split personality disorder in dealing with people he considers family as subordinates.
“Have some fire. Be unstoppable. Be a force of nature.”
The most maddening, infuriating yet oddly interesting aspect of the show is its capability to provide wonderful allegories that make you go “How the fuck can that possibly happen?”, they are so over-the-top, yet make you want to keep watching episode after episode. These larger than life and unrealistic metaphorical tools help each episode come a full circle. Almost every episode begins with a soft monologue by one of the characters with those generic pictures of the Seattle landscape or the sea or the mountains or rooms in the hospital or just random shots of the couples in the show getting it on. It introduces that particular episode to you, (for the smarter ones out there) gives you a gestalt views, either by picking up the strings of the drama from those gone by or an ongoing issue, before the show bogs down the viewer in the apparently petty instances for each individual. This change in perspective is not only helpful in getting to grips with what is happening but also incites a certain feeling within you, one which I’m forgetting the exact word for: What do you call it when a show makes you want to throw anything in your hand at the screen, even if it breaks the laptop, because the characters are just being stupid and petty? Yes, annoyed. The miserly nature of the conflicts tends to be a little frustrating, but in context of the monologues, both at the beginning and at the end of an episode, it is as though the show zooms out from their minor issues onto how that affects them deeply on a personal level. Ordinarily, no one would be interested in the inner workings of a bunch of doctors but you put that in the context of bleeding patients, plane crashes, hospital politics, sassy attendings, brilliant yet unfortunate residents and naïve interns, and you’ve got yourself a winner. Or at least a show that isn’t as funny or entertaining as House, not as generic as ER but still manages to get to season 13.