I watch Grey’s Anatomy. It’s just, you know, my excuse for one more Facebook Application. It’s my guilty pleasure. It’s my Moonpie of television.
It’s important to have something in your life characterized by gaping holes of incredulity that you still, despite those gaping holes, really enjoy. I keep a growing list of Grey’s Anatomy improbabilities because one day, I’d like to sponsor a Grey’s Anatomy Games (GAG), in which competitors test the feasibility of “character motivated” action: like Izzie eating an entire tub of butter. Or the time she stood outside the hospital for 12 hours–not even a bathroom break!–because she couldn’t face the memory of Denny and his severed LVAD wire and the pathetic aftermath when she curled up in her Prom gown (because it was Prom night at Seattle Grace) cradling his dead body.
“Where does it hurt, Alex? In my feet.”
In the Grey’s Anatomy Games, the writers will actually try standing for 12 hours. I did that the summer I worked food service at Disney World, sweltering through layers of purple and maroon while pulling pizza tickets from a printer. I leaned against the wall any chance I got. Granted, Izzie wasn’t wearing polyester in 100 degree heat, but surely she must have been tuckered out from the trauma of killing her boyfriend. At least give the girl a bench.
I find Meredith Grey to be a rather unlikeable character. She’s selfish (monopolizes conversation), wears her bangs like she went to the gym but forgot to shower (Mer-hair), and speaks in tautologies (“I’m dating. I’m going out with men. I’m seeing people.”) Mer-talk is a no-brainer. It’s the language of cutesy presumption and casual acquaintance and alliterative weather-filler, all wrapped up in a tidy bow of metaphor. It’s a language occasionally interspersed with smarty-pants medical terminology like “humpty dumpy procedure.” Mer-talk is about getting the most mileage out of the least number of words:
Now that my own hair is long enough for a greasy pony-tail, I like pretending to be Meredith Grey. When I’m drunk. My Anatomy’s friends know enough to play along.
Me: “I’m drinking. A beer. Beer drinking.”
Friend: “Work was hard today. I–”
Me: “What do you think about my love life? I’m drowning. In beer drinking. I’m drink-downing. I’m drink-dating. I have a dog.”
On Grey’s Anatomy, it’s all hospital, all the time. Oh, except for that one episode when the entire male staff of Seattle Grace (including the Chief of Surgery) took leave to do a little camping and fly-fishing in upstate Washington.
On Grey’s Anatomy, a lot happens. Quickly. In the span of a particular Season Two Weekend at Gurneys, Dr. Burke got shot, Denny died, Dr. Webber’s niece was rushed to the emergency room for cancer, a Plague spread, and — the straw that broke the intern’s back — Derek and Meredith euthanized their joint custody dog. I used to not want to live in Seattle because of all that rain, but it turns out it’s also a highly dangerous city: a city prone to bombs and Code Blacks; to transportation disasters (train and ferry); to mass shootings; to plagues. A sad city where you sing your babe to sleep with The Blues and toss expensive jewelry overboard:
A Grey’s episode is undiluted metaphor. Oh, to be a fly on the Shonda Rhimes storyboard! I imagine the writing process to be the love-child of Today’s Special and Boggle: somebody throws out a word, and thus begins the mad rush to free-associate, to re-arrange letters to fashion plot. Let’s say the special word is “Cake.”
“Ok, girls, think CAKE and..go! Stomach ache. Have your cake and eat it, too. Wedding cake. A skin condition from caked on make-up. Caked artery. Avian Cake Disease. Izzie baking countless cakes—paincakes! Derek Hot Cake! McCake!”
Last night, I went to hear the poet Carl Phillips read at the 11th Street Bar. He’s long been a favorite of mine—poems of such lyric richness, such imploring benediction, such pensive supplication, such…Grey’s Anatomy narrative voiceover?
Oh god, I’ve been pop culture poisoned. But seriously. Pretend Meredith had written a book called “Tumors Go Missing,” and she’s at the podium taking nervous sips of white wine and pausing between line breaks.
Now picture Carl Phillips in a bathtub monologuing his poem “Cloud Country” over angsty Emo guitar. His publisher is, after all, Graywolf Press.
Oh, but Carl. You’re still the better.