The idiot box is not called so for nothing. Despite a plethora of channels and programmes being aired, it still remains an idiot box. In fact to my mind the raison d’être for at least the existence of the entertainment channels ceased when “Sex and the City” went off the air. That was until Grey’s Anatomy started.
Truth be told I didn’t start watching it immediately. I don’t like to watch medical dramas and I think I probably missed the first season entirely. As it is, I have enough of the morbid in me. I most definitely can do without seeing death and pain on TV. How and why I started watching it, I can’t recall…probably while flipping channels at the end of the day. And before I knew it, I was hooked.
What is it that I like so much about Grey’s Anatomy? Most definitely not Meredith Grey….neither the character nor the actress particularly. When I think about it, there is no character individually who makes it work, so to speak. Due apologies to all the Mc Dreamies, Mc Steamies and Ms. Mc Hot but they alone don’t make the series tick. And the episodes themselves vary between the sublimely touching and poignant to the downright bathetic quite like our desi K brand serials.What was Addison’s trip to L.A all about? And O’Malley? Dead in lieu of Izzie ?
But despite these hiccups there is something that clicks. To begin with, I love the voice over with which each episode starts. It doesn’t simply set the tone for the episode or give an insight into a character but puts the series in a broader human context cutting across incidental boundaries of place, time and setting. The characters could have been anyone, anywhere carrying on with their daily struggles, dilemmas, tragedies- real or tin pot. That they are surgeons in a hospital named Seattle Grace Hospital in a land and context far removed from ours seems incidental. Who amongst us has not known the pain of a failed relationship; the terror of confronting our worst fears; the warmth of a shoulder to cry on; the helplessness in comforting a broken partner or the joy of a sudden fortuitous turn of events? Human nature, life and predicament remain the same in essentials.Only externals change.
The characters, with their intertwining lives and those of the patients who come and go, make a great ensemble cast. Often they give the feeling of being “types” rather than well-rounded characters but work out well in the overall scheme of things. So we have the core group of surgical interns, now residents- Meredith with what she herself calls her “crappy DNA”, broken home and morbid, dark persona that now seems to be lightening up; Yang, the “robot”, Meredith’s “person” and voice of reason, sanity and logic with her seemingly cut and dry approach and overriding passion for cardio surgery; the softy Izzie who gets emotionally involved with every patient; Karev, hiding some deep scars behind a devil-may-care roguish attitude and the now dead George O’ Malley, a bit of a messed up softy. Surrounding them are the others- their supervising Resident,the “Nazi” Bailey who instead becomes their “Friend, philosopher and guide” ; Derek Mc Dreamy Shepherd, Meredith’s love interest; Mark Mc Steamy Sloan, the proverbial rake on the lookout for love and stability; Richard, Chief of surgery, something of a father figure and as much a part of Meredith’s past as her present; Torres, the orthopaedic surgeon;Lexie Grey, Meredith’s half sister. Many others come and go- Addison, Preston Burke, Owen Hunt-but life goes on.
The twists and turns in the plot are riveting but very often nothing much to write home about. Meredith and Derek’s off and on relationship; Sloan’s sex escapades; Yang being abandoned on the altar; Izzie’s cancer; O’ Malley’s death- the series takes its audience along on the emotional roller coaster. We may not be surgeons facing death and trauma every day but which one of us has not faced mortality in one form or the other? Who cannot feel Bailey’s moral dilemma, as she fights not simply with Derek but with herself in order to save a young life? Or Meredith’s passionate appeal for understanding when she herself fails to understand her grief on a convicted murderer being given the lethal injection? Which one of us has not yearned for a friendship and understanding beyond words like that of Yang and Meredith? Or the tough choices one has to make between family and career? Each one of us has tried to “seize the day” in our own way in the face of death and uncertainty of life as Meredith and Derek do with their post-it marriage.
Yes, life is short; we all are living on borrowed time as it were. Why and how do we take life for granted? I think it is this very basis of our assumption of daily living that Grey’s Anatomy challenges and also shows us the way out- Love…love among friends, among partners, among colleagues, even among strangers- the bonds that form whether we want them or not but make life worth living anyways. It is this emotion that takes us along life and its varied paths. And this is the chord that Grey’s Anatomy touches, which “Packed to the Rafters”, despite Karan Johar popping up again and again with the tag line “When all else fails, there is family”, fails to do. If it were not for love, how would one cope with all that life can throw at you? Sadly, in our limited human perceptions we often fail to see this and value what needs to be valued. Time is short, every bond we form is nothing but a loss somewhere down the line. Hence Meredith’s advice- tell the ones you love that you love them while you can tell and they can hear. For who has indeed seen tomorrow?