Every Silver Lining has a Touch of Grey’s

Time for my annual “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” post. I’m not talking about the end of the summer, the beginning of the school year or the impending elections. I am talking about the new fall TV season, with new pilots and episodes of my favorites finally returning and saving me from the stress of my NetFlix queue or one more night of Locked Up Abroad.

I’ll set aside my usual rant about how excited I was for the Gossip Girl premier (what have S and B been up to all summer?!) and the disappointing “re-launch” of 90210. I instead want to comment on an NPR story I heard last night that got me thinking more about my favorite shows. There’s a theory called the Bechdel Rule which states that women on screen should talk about all aspects of their lives, not just relationships with men – that women on screen should not be clichés. The same concept is applied to race and sexual preference in addition to gender, and some judge TV shows as to whether they meet the “Bechdel Rule” (if they do, then they’re worth watching). With the average American watching 5 hours of television programming per day, the segment called out two of my favorites (Sex and the City and Grey’s Anatomy) for breaking the Bechdel Rule, and therefore not meeting the standards as shows that one – especially younger generations – should watch. I respectfully disagree.

Don’t get me wrong. I agree as much as the next woman that we shouldn’t be portrayed as boy crazy, life-messed-up clichés, and but rather as diverse, complex, balanced role-models. But, if you want serious, deep television that addresses the most pressing issues in today’s society, does one really need to look any further than either of those shows? Take Grey’s for example. Name me one other non-reality or news show on TV which takes such an honest (yet light) look at gender, race and sexuality issues – not to mention religion, family, health and mental illness, and of course dating.

Case in point: T.R. Knight, an openly gay actor, is one of the main characters. The script flirts with homosexuality between two women (one white, one Hispanic), and the bartender of the local watering hole is in a committed relationship with another man. And let’s not forget about Christina, a Jewish Asian American woman, and her intense romance with Burke, a privileged African American man. And the two most senior people at Seattle Grace? Dr. Miranda Baily and Chief Webber – both African American. In the first season alone, main characters were touched personally by mental illness, alcoholism and death. Miranda battles balancing work with her young son and stay-at-home-dad. And although there is plenty of sex, at least it’s not the men who are “playing” the women in this show. This show is the epitome of overtly, politically-correct programming.

Sure, Grey’s Anatomy is by no means reality, and Seattle Grace is a narrow scope by which to base one’s values on. But for NPR to call this show a poor standard just because some of the scripts focus on women’s relationships with men is not fair. I realize I’m being a bit frivolous, but I tune in to these shows as an escape. If I wanted something serious, I’d tune into CNN not MTV, watch documentaries instead of dramanticomedies. I don’t think any woman intends on modeling her life after TV characters, but is Grey’s really such a bad place to start? Successful, intelligent doctors with close friends dealing with the kinds of every-day issues we all do – I know I’ll be tuning in with millions of others on the 25th for the premier.


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