R034 Grey's Anatomy

(2005, Drama/Television, color)


Mike and Bridget Nelson

They make the Breakfast Club seem level-headed and mature.

Rating **1/2

In a nutshell:

Medical professionals behave like junior high students, to the detriment of their patients.


I dedicate this DVD cover to the ubiquitous treatment montage.Dr. Meredith Grey, an intern fresh from medical school, begins her internship at a prestigious Seattle hospital. Beyond that, however, the first two episodes of this hit television hospital drama appear to be 100% plot-free.

What we get instead is a jumble of interlocking vignettes. These include, but are not limited to: an ill-advised sexual encounter in an elevator; a teenage beauty pageant contestant with an aneurysm; a famous mother with an undefined mental illness; various rivalry antics among the other interns; rampant unprofessionalism as full-fledged doctors insult each other in front of their patients; several montages of unwelcome hugs; a supermodel performing rectal examinations; a rape victim whose abdominal surgery turns up a chunk of her attacker’s wing-wang; the subsequent arrival, treatment, and arrest of her wing-wang-less attacker; a newborn with a heart defect; a search for roommates; and much, much more. Co-stars former teen heartthrob Patrick Dempsey as the Object of Her Affections.


Dr. Chad Feelgood.How did we ever start thinking of hospitals as glamorous? There’s the saving and losing of lives, certainly, but there’s also the various seeping bodily fluids, open wounds, invasive testing and so on. Most hospital dramas emphasize the former while glossing over the latter. To its credit, Grey’s Anatomy includes all of the above, though it should be noted that patients who cannot double as Victoria’s Secret models are restricted to ailments which allow them to remain fully clothed.

Then there’s the staff. In all the times I’ve been to the hospital (a small but significant number) I have never once had a supermodel stick her fingers in my bum. Part of this may be because I haven’t needed a rectal examination since my age was in single digits, but mostly it’s because there are no supermodel hospital workers. These people work hard. No matter how attractive they may be in the outside world, a few hours in scrubs will transform anyone into a haggard, shapeless creature with a zombie stare.

And then, of course, there’s the sniping. Interpersonal and professional conflicts are common in all industries, and hospitals are no exception. I am not employed by a medical facility, but my work gets me involved in their disputes all the time. In my experience, such conflicts are usually either slow burns based on constant subtle harassment or quick, explosive outbursts that result in someone’s resignation, transfer, or termination. What they are not is constant trash talking in front the patients. Grey’s Anatomy seems to think that all doctors behave like thirteen-year-old girls. Even the doctors on M*A*S*H weren’t this immature. Hawkeye Pierce may have been a promiscuous goofball on his own time, but he was always a doctor in front of his patients.

Dr. Meredith Teenybopper.Of course, if I just break down and admit that this is a fantasy with no apparent aspirations to medical realism, then I have to admit that it’s a slick and light-hearted prime-time soap opera, sure to delight people who are into that kind of thing.

Mike Nelson’s wife Bridget joins him for the commentary, and almost immediately delivers my favorite line on the track. When Mike asks her if this is the womaniest show on television, she replies, “Audrey Hepburn filing her nails while drinking a cup of tea, eating half a caesar salad, and sitting in a field of daisies while gossiping on a cell phone is less womany than Grey's Anatomy.” Later, when an appendectomy gone wrong escalates into an argument, she says, “I’m glad to know my doctors are insulting each other’s manhoods while I’m bleeding my guts out.” When we fade to black during the sick baby subplot, Mike cries, “Do not change the channel or the baby will die!” It’s a competent if rather shallow show; not my cup of tea, but Mike and Bridget make it fun to watch regardless.