Last night I watched what may have been my final episode of Grey’s Anatomy. As a long-time viewer, this slow but steady decline has been painful for the last ten years, but last night may just have been the night where I throw in the towel. If we’re being honest, things haven’t been great for a while. It was rough when Mark and Lexie died. It was bad when Japril called it quits and replaced their steady relationship with menial drama. And it was really bad when Derek died. But last night? Last night was just downright painful and hard to continue watching. So I’m left wondering, how did we get here?
Grey’s used to be so good because it was emotionally wrecking. You’d watch Meredith put her hand into the body cavity with the bomb and feel for her, because you knew she didn’t care if she went down. The strength of Meredith and Cristina being each other’s person through near-death misses and failed pregnancies made you feel like you could get through whatever shit life threw at you. And Meredith and Derek coming together, compromising for each other, even with different goals and commitment issues made you feel, just for a moment, that maybe your love life wasn’t so hopeless after all.
But that was then. Now, what are we left with? Obnoxious arguments in the E.R. Two patients per episode – one that’s expected to live but doesn’t, and one that’s expected to die but lives instead. Surgeons magically get assigned to patients who offer some insight into the problems they’re struggling with that episode, but they turn right back around and get themselves into more shit by the time next Thursday night rolls around. There are no happy moments. There are no surprises. Just a lot of loud, obvious, obnoxious arguing by 50-year-old actors whose roles have apparently become petulant children. Last night’s episode attempted to break the typical pattern of behavior, but the annoying verbal conflict and repetitiveness of character revelations that haven’t stuck for over a decade continued, leaving us feeling as exhausted as ever.
Unfortunately, the signs for getting to this point were there all along, but we didn’t catch them. Izzy imagining Denny back to life in season five? Cristina leaving. We didn’t catch the deterioration because it happened slowly over time, but if you were to compare last night’s episode with anything from the first three seasons, what we’ve been watching recently would be unrecognizable as the same show. Death used to be a heart-wrenching, big deal, but now we’ve become immune as we’ve learned never to get attached to any character. If at any point now you feel a twinge or a connection to anyone, it’s because he or she is actually a good actor, meaning they’re using Grey’s as a launching pad for their acting career, and Shonda will make sure they’re dead before you know it. At this point, death has lost its sting and has become yet another emotionless annoyance we’re left to deal with.
At this point, what can be done? Can we push 10 of epi, bring out a crash cart, and hope it survives? While it seems like there’s no pulse, it’s a long shot, but maybe the paddles will work. I know this show isn’t DOA like many of Seattle Grace Mercy Death’s patients, because we’ve seen flashes of what it used to be, like when the surgeon who killed Derek showed up at Meredith’s home for a dinner party. There’s life still in there somewhere. Writers, we need to have a talk. Let conflict arise in another form than the weekly verbal arguments that give us all flashbacks to our parents’ divorce, and instead, bring us back to the basics. Bring back subtlety. Bring back feeling. Bring back the pain of losing someone you love and the joy of dancing on a table with a bottle of tequila. Bring back unpredictable, unprecedented emotion, and stop trying to make each catastrophe bigger and better than the last, because as we all know, the true catastrophes are hidden in the details of our everyday lives.
This show has gone on for way too long, but I think I speak for millions of us when I say that we can’t leave it this way. Give it one more season. And not a “Season 12” season, but a “Season 2” season. Something that, when it leaves us, we’ll wish there was more instead of wishing it had been killed 6 years ago. Anger is a good emotion, but give it to us when justified, not as a conversational filler. Give us love, give us hope, give us strong friendships, and above all, give us real life, and I promise we’ll come back to you. For now, however, it looks like an hour of my week has just been freed up. Grey’s, it’s been a good run – my longest relationship, in fact – and while we part ways on good terms, I hope that maybe one day our paths will cross again and maybe, just maybe, we’ll still be meant to be..
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