English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: Grey’s Anatomy

Why the Unrealistic Everything in Grey’s Anatomy Works

Final thoughts, huh?

There is so much wrong with Grey’s Anatomy, but it works. There are so many incidents of events where, in real life, the interns or doctors could have lost their medical license or even been arrested. Patients are given MRIs with metal inside them and wake up right after surgery. Seattle Grace hospital deals with bombs in patients, gunshot wounds, deadly motorcycle races, train crashes, and so much more. Wow, Seattle must be really eventful!

This aside, I had to look for the bad in the show by reading several “15 Facts About” articles. When I watched the show, my only annoyances were small unrealistic hospital details that longtime patients would know. I was so prepared to complain until I realized that this unrealistic yet realistic world works.

At it’s core, Grey’s Anatomy is a medical drama, not a documentary. The truth is stretched in favor of conflicts between doctors and nurses, relationship drama, and friend squabbles. The focus of the show is centered on this as well as the medical aspect. Without some of the unrealistic elements in the show, it would be boring. For example, when Meredith Grey punctures a heart during surgery and her mistake is found out, she would have realistically been punished much more severely than she was. However, a clever statement from Dr. Burke, who had left a towel in a patient years ago, saved her. It’s not what would really happen, but his clever vouch for Meredith interests the viewers and provides an unexpected resolution to the episode’s conflict. Plus, how fun would it be if the show lost it’s title character in Season 1?

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RIP Meredith Grey. Almost.

In the end, unless people are in the medical field or experienced patients, little unrealistic things can be easily thrown away for the drama. Who cares if the doctor is present during an MRI if said doctor is considering important relationship decisions? These relationship issues will most likely be an important plot point, not a slightly unrealistic scan.

Grey’s Anatomy is Much More Interesting Than You Think

For the last blog post I’d like to talk about the format that makes Grey’s Anatomy stand out from many other television shows.

Let’s start with the overall tone of the show. Episode five of season one starts with Dr. Meredith Grey holding a woman’s heart after being awake for forty-eight hours. Soon after she releases the heart into the woman’s chest, the heart stops beating. Luckily, Dr. Burke is able to revive the heart with a defibrillator. It is later revealed that Meredith’s glove had a puncture in it and she may have punctured the heart as she was dealing with it. What does this have to do with the show? Well, this entire scene was part of the first ten minutes of the episode. The conflict is established and the show is already able to spark the audience’s interest before it even plays the intro sequence. The reason this is so interesting to the viewers is because throughout Grey’s Anatomy, many lives rest upon the hands of the main characters and when lives are at stake, people tend to take things much more seriously.

The episode continues with another patient who undergoes a surgery in which a towel is discovered inside her lungs. The towel is promptly removed but the situation is investigated. It is found that Dr. Burke, a highly ranked surgeon at the hospital was the leading surgeon in the surgery that the same women underwent five years prior. This sparks even more interest in the audience since the situation is somewhat similar to the one that is presented at the beginning of the episode, however, this time the stakes are much higher because a mistake such as leaving a towel inside a patient is something that can get someone fired, and when the audience finds out that the person responsible is one of the main characters of the show, the question that stems from that is “will Dr. Burke get fired?”

This is the towel that was removed from the patient’s body

Grey’s Anatomy Includes Everyone

This week I watched the 4th episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Every gender was equally represented in the episode and there were about the same number of male characters as there were female. This episode however, seemed to focus a lot on the female gender as a lot of it focused on how Izzie used to be a model. This led to many of her pictures being posted and talk about around the hospital and underlined the way that men and women think about female models with one patient even denying her the opportunity to conduct surgery on him because he fantasized about her before.

The agency of the show is mainly controlled by the character’s job title in the hospital’s job hierarchy. Males seem to take the position of chief and 2 of the head surgeons but a very strict women (Bailey) takes the position of resident which is also quite high. The rest of the main characters take positions of interns, doing very basic and easy tasks for the people in higher power and do the tasks that they’re being told to do. These interns are both male and female with no pattern as to who has more power over the other.

The show is able to connect gender, race, and everything in between very well. Bailey is an African American women while Dr. Burke is an African American man who is one of the head surgeons. Race seems to be varied between the characters and gender as well with both males and females taking positions of power in the hospital. In my opinion, the show does a good job of including all types of people, even if they’re not main characters. For example, the show includes many different types of patients, some with mental illnesses, some with disabilities, and patients of many different classes.

Miranda Bailey is considered the most strict resident of the hospital

I Watched Grey’s Anatomy, So Now I’m a Doctor

Shonda Rhimes, the author of Grey’s Anatomy, writes her medical drama in a way that everyone can understand. There is medical lingo and jargon, but it’s not enough to confuse viewers, and confusing terms like necrotizing fasciitis and a hyperbaric chamber don’t distract from the overall plot and story. They’re either used in a way that isn’t integral to the plot, or they’re explained to further the plot. This is consistent throughout the entire show and the episode I chose to analyze.

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The mastermind behind it all.

Like much of the other aspects of the show, the writing is fast paced and straightforward. In a hospital setting, especially in the emergency department, doctors and nurses communicate quickly and with urgency, including much of the previously mentioned medical lingo. Although some aspects of the show are inaccurate most likely to create the drama and story rather than make it perfectly accurate, much of it seems realistic. This includes the writing. Also, interestingly, when anything is explained, it’s quick and to the point. The audience requires context, as most of them aren’t doctors, but explanations can’t be so drawn out that it becomes unrealistic. Therefore, explanations of medical terms and procedures are done by “testing” the interns’ knowledge or by quickly explaining it in a few words.

Silence isn’t often used. When characters don’t talk, music or commotion is used to fill those spaces. This typically happens in emotional scenes, like when Meredith had to kill a patient due to the patient being DNR ( some more medical lingo for you! ).

There are voiceovers at the beginning and ends of episodes, usually Meredith speaking her thoughts and teasing the episode in the beginning, and reiterating these thoughts while capping off the episode in the end. However, instead of plentiful voiceovers, Meredith’s thoughts are sometimes spoken aloud to compliment what everyone says out loud.

Everyone’s Sad and Dramatic, and You Can Definitely See It

The cinematography of Grey’s Anatomy seemed ordinary at first. It’s a hospital drama, not an action movie or romance show. But, at a closer look, the show’s camera angles, quick cuts, and close ups provide a clear way to view these interns’ and doctors’ lives.

Much of the show is focused in Seattle Grace Hospital, with some time spent in the bar and Meredith’s home. Most of the camera shots in all three settings are of characters’ faces and expressions, which highlights their emotions and reactions to the many dramatic situations they are involved in. These shots are often shown at different angles too, and this helps to provide different views into their expressions. Other common hospital shots are of doctors and interns walking down hallways, doctors and patients, and doctors during surgical procedures. The shots are choppy and quick, switching from one character to another to show their reactions as soon as they can react. It also reflects the fast pace of the show; a lot happens in a short period of time, and there’s no time for panning around settings or long, sweeping shots, unless they’re of an important patient or doctor.

The lighting differs in each setting. In the hospital, the light is stark white and harsh, as is expected with hospital lighting. It’s unforgiving, just like the environment. However, the lighting at the bar is darker, as the interns often visit at night. But, this also sets the stage for more personal talk. Finally, at the home, the lighting is warmer and less harsh. The moments that occur in Meredith’s home are usually more homey, and they act like a family (a dysfunctional family, yet still a family).

Each episode has a bit of a different theme and focus, but the episode I analyzed was the Christmas Episode. It didn’t have large differences; however, the lighting reflected the Christmas theme. In the hospitals, families had trees and decorations. In Meredith’s home, Izzie decorated the house with as much Christmas related things as she could.

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Christmas cheer, right?

Cinematographic effects used to show Derek’s dark death :( and one of the saddest moments of my life

Grey’s Anatomy, season 11 episode 21… an episode that I think will always stay remembered in our hearts and our minds. This episode, in charge of showing the death of one of the most loved characters, Derek Shepherd, used different cinematographic techniques that made our hearts teared apart little by little.


The episode starts with a bunch of  vanished quick shots that show some of the most important moments of Meredith and Derek Shepherd’s life. In addition to this, there’s a shattering image of police sirens in the background that indicate us, since the beginning, that something is for sure going to be wrong. As the episode goes on, shots go back to normal, some of them tend to be a little longer than others, but they are all shown through different angles (in the case of the car crash we are able to see through both the inside of Sara and Winnie’s car, and through the overall scene of the accident), which makes it interesting and captivating. The first half part of the episode is shot during the day, including bright and natural colors (like blue, green and yellow). However, when Derek (one of the primary characters) gets tremendously injured in a moment that we never expected, the screen goes all black and the cinematography of the episode starts to change immediately after that.

This is one of the quick throw back shots shown at the beginning, middle, and end of the episode  :(

Although it is exactly at the half of the episode that Derek’s accident happened, the transition in cinematographic effects goes back to the same they used at that beginning (a bunch of quick shots that showed some of the most important moments of Meredith and Derek’s life with the shattering image of police sirens in the background), indicating us that since that moment things will just go darker and darker. After this happens, the time of the day changes too, it passes from morning-noon to night, which makes all of the shots darker and sadder. The shots continue to transition from different angles, focusing on the face of Derek when he’s thoughts are being played in the background, and on the general image of the hospital when other important things were going on. Finally,  there are other two important cinematographic moments: when the police goes to Meredith’s house and tells that there’s been an accident (showing again a shattering image of police sirens on top of Meredith’s overwhelmed and shocked face), and when it comes the moment for Derek to pass away (ending the episode again with the remembrance of quick shots that show some of the best and happier moments of Derek Sheperd).


In general, this episode’s cinematographic use is not like all of the others because it is suppose to be a much more dramatic, sad and emotional moment for the show. As sad and resentful fans may feel about this, there’s no denial that lights and special cinematographic effects stand out through the entire episode.


The Thinking Behind the Shots of Grey’s Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy has a lot of cinematographic elements that I think are important to be mentioned. Why? Well Grey’s Anatomy makes use of so many different elements with each having a purpose and relevance to the show that when pointed out, make it much more fun to watch the show. Let’s start with the shots.

Each shot in the TV show is carefully planned. Some shots show a wide view of the scene while some shots zoom in to the action. During very intense parts of episodes, the shots are very short to simulate action and a constant shift of focus. Contrary, if the characters are having long discussions, shots are long and steady to give the audience the feeling of being part of the conversation. The length of each shot invokes a certain feeling in the audience along with background music, dialogue, and the position of the shot.

The lighting is also a key element that’s hard not to notice. The entire show seems to be a bit saturated, especially in shots where there is more blood present or more sadness. Most bright shots in the episodes come at the end where Meredith narrates some lesson that she’s learned as an intern. This is to signify a happy ending or “a rainbow within the rain”. These endings normally also show the sun in some way or another to bring a bit of happiness and sunshine into the episode and the show. The dialogue of the characters fades out, grey’s analogue starts, the music fades in, and the episode ends.

The episode of this blog post’s concern is the 2nd episode in season 1. Most lighting effects/shot styles that are present in this episode also play a role in the majority of the other episodes of the season. These tricks are used by the show’s production team to allow for a stronger connection between the audience, the characters, and the show.

Saturated colors in season 1 episode 2 of Grey’s Anatomy

Gotta Love Thanksgiving!

Season 2, Episode 9 of Grey’s Anatomy is all about Thanksgiving. It’s pretty simple. This is a day where families typically get together, cook dinner, and eat. However, in Grey’s Anatomy, nothing is ever simple, and this episode reflects that by showing the complex, emotional, and trying day that the many surgeons, residents, and interns face.

Everyone has their own reasons to skip out on dinner. Meredith avoids the dinner because she believes her misery would drag everyone down. Alex didn’t pass his medical exams, and he doesn’t want to tell Izzie. Christina just wants to scrub in or get drunk. Meanwhile, Izzie is upset that she may have to celebrate a day she cherishes so much alone. Thanksgiving is just another complicated day in these surgical interns’ lives.

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Delicious, delicious dinner.

This episode supports the theme by showing everyone’s journeys throughout the day. Whether it’s performing surgery on a turkey, pretending “The Nazi” is giving them orders, or talking about cars, everyone spends the day differently. They all face their own struggles too. A day that’s supposed to be for them to all be together like a family ends up being just as complicated as every day in their lives. But, in the end, most of them meet up for Thanksgiving anyways and spend the rest of the night together. The next day, everything returns to its usual drama-filled chaos.

In this show, it seems like there isn’t a single day without drama, deaths, tension, and complications. This episode is no different. It’s just as messy as the rest. Even though this is a surgical drama with highly exaggerated conflicts, it reflects the fact that everyday life can be messy, complicated, and it doesn’t always go right. Using examples from the show, someone could end up at the hospital, have a miserable day, go to the bar instead of going to dinner, etc. These kinds of things happen.

Willful Writing


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When words fail, fries and wine will do the trick! A few fries might have aided me in the writing of this very blog post…

In today’s blog post, I will be discussing the willful writing of Shonda Rhimes, in Season 1, Episode 3 of Scandal, “Hell Hath No Fury.” First, I will define “willful” so that the word has appropriate meaning within the context of this blog post. The definition of willful I will be using is, “deliberate, intentional, or done on purpose,” rather than, “a strong sense of will or stubbornness.” Throughout this post, I hope to show you that Rhimes’ writing obtains a very deliberate and intentional purpose.

For this specific episode and the entire series, Shonda Rhimes is credited with the writing. In addition to writing  Scandal,  Rhimes has also written other TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. Rhimes is credited with the production of other widely popular shows like How to Get Away with Murder and Station 19. She also wrote Crossroads, a film about singer, Brittney Spears. Finally, last but certainly not least, she wrote my absolute favorite movie of all time,  Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement!!! Needless to say, Shonda Rhimes has a very successful, and almost unrivaled, writing career, especially in the female television writer and producer arena.

Now, back to the third episode of Scandal.  The dialog in the show is very cold and straight-forward. The characters speak without warm and convey no emotion. I believe Rhimes does this to authenticate Olivia Pope within the harsh, cut-throat environment of Washington and the White House. In this particular episode, Olivia deals with a horrific rape case and yet she shows almost no emotion, and she definitely does not sympathize with the victim. Thus, Rhimes keeps Olivia’s female character from showing “traditional” feminine characteristics to show Olivia can handle the good, bad, and ugly, just like her male peer professionals. Therefore, the harsh dialogue discourages personal affections and reinforces work prioity.

There is no voice-over in Scandal, and I believe that again authenticates the show and its characters. Rhimes would rather have events play out and film the reactions or have the characters voice the plot themselves than have an unknown narrator provide information. The Scandal world is full of strong lawyers and highly successful businessmen, so providing information from a separate, unlinked source would not fit into the rest of the writing in this show.

Rhimes uses silence amongst her characters as a placeholder for emotion. Many times throughout the show, and especially in this episode, Olivia remains quiet instead of demonstrating her own feelings about a situation or scenario. For example, as the rape victim gives her testimony and continuously asks Olivia rhetorical questions, Olivia remains motionless and completely silent.

For this particular episode, I did not notice any literary allusions or callbacks. However, I did notice that Rhimes’ writing aims to put each character in a light of reality and truth. She does not hide Olivia’s cold heart, Quinn’s stupidity, Huck’s anxiety, or Steven’s doubt. Instead, Rhimes almost makes the faults of her characters blatantly obvious, as to appeal to viewers’ sense of reality and relatability.


Derek and Addison? Derek and Meredith? Adisson and Mark?… It never stops being weird and confusing

The second season of Grey’s Anatomy argues about a common but very controversial theme in the entire world: Adultery. This world-wide issue (being the cause of divorce of approximately 40% of the couples in the United States) is covered in the show through three different stages:

  1. Finding out
  2. Acting
  3. Moving on

My face when I find out someone was actually capable of cheating on Derek Shepherd

For phase 1, during the first episode of season 2, Derek (the one who was cheated on) tells the story of how he caught his wife and his best friend cheating on him in his own bed. He describes the thoughts he had in that moment like “knowing what was happening and what he was about to see, but being unable to accept and recognize it”, which is a very common reaction, known as “denial”, for every human being that has had to deal with a situation like this one. The representation of this first stage is deeply important as it argues that although not everyone has the same experience, it is okay, and normal, to want to ignore the situation… basically, is something we weren’t born or prepared for.

When analyzing phase number 2, the show represents “acting out” through the fact that Derek, instead of staying to figure things out with his wife, took the decision of avoiding the situation, leaving everything behind, and simply moving to another state. Although many people would argue that ignoring the facts isn’t the right path to solve things, what the show’s really debating is that none of us are perfect, so we shouldn’t be afraid to run away or act “insanely” fast when we fear we are going to get more hurt than what we are. Additionally, running away or kicking someone out is actually one of the most common reactions human beings can have, reason why a great percentage of the audience would probably relate to the story that was being told on screen.

The last phase is, for me, the most important stage as it argues that no matter how bad a situation may seem or how destroyed you may feel, the last thing someone can lose is hope. After everything that happened, Derek was able to start moving on when he met Meredith. He described the relationship with her like “getting fresh air when he felt he was drowning”, meaning that there’s always a chance to get something better, something we deserve, and that no one should stop us from fighting for our happiness.

No caption needed. This story is way better than what Derek was living at NYC

In general, the show argues that adultery does happen, and it happens a lot, however, one shouldn’t neither feel guilty about its reaction towards the situation nor give up of finding something better in the future.




This week’s task: “Write a Grey’s Anatomy episode that 22.22 million viewers would like”… hard chore, isn’t it?

Since its launching, Shonda Rhimes, and multiple Grey’s Anatomy credited writers, have managed to make us feel eager, miserable, ecstatic, furious, (add all the emotions you can think of), for almost 14 years (yes, it’s ABC’s second longest running show ever, in case you were wondering). However, we aren’t here to commemorate the greatness of GA (we know is the best show in history, end of discussion), the real question actually is “How did writers succeed in catching our attention since episode 1 if we get tired of everything (literally everything… food, clothing, classes, etc)? Well let me tell you a secret, a first season with trustful characters and a lot of drama is all you’ll ever need.

While re-watching Grey’s Anatomy (for the third time (yes, I’m a HUGE fan)), I’ve realized that making everything dramatic and trustworthy since the beginning is a principal element, and if you don’t believe me just ask Shonda Rhimes; creator and currently executive producer and principal writer of Grey’s Anatomy. This outstanding writer was not only responsible for the 16.25 million viewers the show got from just its first episode, but also for the success of uncountable “Shondaland’s” shows like Private Practice, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, among many others.

This are just SOME of the MANY successful shows Shonda Rhimes has actually made us                                                             laugh and cry at the same time

In the first episodes of the show, “A Hard Day’s Night” and “The First Cut Is the Deepest”, the character’s development and the credibility they exhibit is a writing element that stands out. Meredith, being the daughter of a brilliant surgeon, makes us belief that she has innate medicine skills; Cristina, being first in her Stanford’s class shows us that determination and perseverance will take her wherever she wants; Izzie, being capable of working as a model and as a doctor indulges us to support her career while trying to demonstrate everyone that one can be pretty, smart and hardcore at the same time; George, well, he’s the guy that everyone likes; and Alex, what can we say? He’s certainly used as a central element in humor and drama. In general, the writing of the show carefully develops each of these characters in such way that we would trust them to basically “safe our lives”.

Just an example of the way Izzie’s character’s developed through the writing of her lines

Additionally, drama is also a main component in GA’s writing. In the very first episode we have to deal with the fact that Meredith had a one-night stand with his new boss, that Ellis has Alzheimer’s, and that interns’ lives will be a nightmare. As the season continues, the last episode “Who’s Zoomin’ Who”, with 22.22 million views (written by Gabrielle Stanton and Harry Werksman (husband and wife also credited in shows like Ugly Betty, Moonlight and Castle)) maintains a dramatic climax till the very end, where we are confronted with the fact that Derek is actually married! In other words, there’s a reason why Grey’s Anatomy viewers and ratings are still top ranked: it’s writing always leaves us wanting more.

My reaction to every Grey’s Anatomy episode


Girl Doctors? Not Nurses? Who knew?

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You go girl!

Yeah, you heard that right.

Alex calls Meredith Grey a nurse in their first interaction. Rude, right? But it does give insight into how sexist the medical field can be. Women have traditionally been nurses, and men have traditionally been doctors. However, Grey’s Anatomy features a diverse cast of men and women of many different races and backgrounds. There are slightly more men than women, but overall, the cast is diverse. A daughter of an esteemed surgeon, a model, a know it all, and a slightly clueless guy are all competing and training to reach one goal: becoming a surgeon.

The main character, Meredith Grey, is a woman. She faces the same struggles as everyone in the internship program: little sleep, many patients, and lots of work. But, she also has to face the pressure of sexism, her very obvious crush on Derek, and her mother’s legacy. She’s realistic and relatable. The other characters all come from different backgrounds and face their own struggles besides those of the internship program.

While women do have some agency in the show, such as Meredith making decisions that saved Katie’s life and Dr. Bailey bossing others around, the higher-ups in the show are all men. The chief ultimately makes the decisions. Many of the female characters are interns or patients, so their decision making is limited. Dr. Bailey is the exception, though. She, affectionately dubbed “The Nazi,” has strict rules and a no nonsense attitude. As a senior resident, she does have the ability to make larger decisions. However, she does fall under the stereotype of an angry black woman.

Race is represented rather well, with there being asian, black, and white people intermingling and doing their work. Dr. Burke is a black man in a position of power, and Dr. Bailey is a black women with moderate power, which is often not seen and often looked down upon. One of the writers even said that the casting process was “colorblind” and that diversity was a main goal of the show. However, people of different sexual and gender orientations, as well as disabled people, are not represented well. Being gay is joked about and used as a prank in one episode. While the intern program may be too rigorous for people with physical disabilities, it can still represent mental illness and some disabilities better.

My Life: Grey’s Anatomy, that’s all you need to know

Hello #1102TVFem my name is Daniela Larranaga, I’m an international student majoring in Industrial Engineering and hope to be graduating by 2022 (fingers crossed!).

Regarding my past experiences with English courses, I can say it’s ironic that I’ve always tend to like and do better in my English classes than in my Spanish (native language) studies :) I went through the English IB diploma class, in which we mainly focused on “the power of language”. In general, through the 2 year International Baccalaureate course, I had the opportunity of analyzing in depth the way in which  language has been used as a utensil to propagate and expand power. With this course, I can be certain that my writing and critical reading skills highly improved, however, as any other international student would fear, I’m a bit uncertain of my oral capacities (something I look forward to improving in Dr.Wilson’s class), as the message I want to transmit tends to be distorted due to a bad use of verbs, vocabulary, or simple fluency.

“When someone doesn’t understand my accent”

Just until last year, binge watching Netflix had never been a hobby of mine (with the exception of Grey’s Anatomy- best show in the world!), however, I recently started to realize that TV series like The Handmaid’s Tale or Reign have a real significance and impact regarding the role of women through history; highlighting both struggling and empowering attitude, which has become a small passion of mine.

The TV show I’m going to review is (of course) Grey’s Anatomy, which bases on the development of a group of doctors who are starting their careers. I think this show connects very good with our class topic because its main character, Meredith Grey, is a thriving women that has to overcome the pressure of her legendary mother, the comments of her stereotypical male co-workers, and the general image that women can’t handle so much work, through a series of actions. I would like to investigate more about the role that vocabulary, tone, timing, and place, play in positioning this female individual (or character in this case) as “important” and “successful”.

We should all have a bit of Cristina                                Yang in us

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