Okay guys, look—I need to veer way off course right now. Yes, I’m an erotica writer. Yes, I talk about sex often frequently all the freaking time. But after spending the last week sicker than ever and doing virtually nothing but camping in front of the TV, I did a lot of thinking about why the shows I watched were fascinating me. Um…all right, that’s a blatant lie. Other than discovering the Vikings opening theme song has turned into a sort of lullaby that actually soothes me to sleep, I didn’t honestly think about that at all.
That is, until Grey’s Anatomy came bursting out with a big enough disruption to my vegetative couch state I had to do some serious mulling. Unbelievably, that serious mulling has persisted all weekend long, into a few hysterical sentences I shared over lunch with Malin James, and now, oh my god, I can’t stop myself from saying something to all of you about it. I know Grey’s Anatomy and television shows are totally not my usual M.O., but since Charlie Powell of Sex blog (of sorts) just talked rather thoughtfully about not separating blogs into categories all the time, I’m breaking the rules and running with it today (thank you, Charlie!).
So let me start with some background: I watch a short list of shows, but goddammit, if I’m in, I’m in. Grey’s Anatomy is one such show, both because I spent my teens thinking I wanted to be a doctor (this included a brief internship in a trauma room, no less), and because I like quirky characters with real problems who also randomly hook up in on-call rooms while waiting to tackle the next bloody mess. I mean, hello. Curing people and sex and bizarre catastrophes? Works for me.
And despite the naysayers, I’ve stuck by this show since day one, no matter what. Even when Callie and George stupidly got married. Even after Meredith did crazy shit like jumping off a dock or sticking her hand into a bomb-laden body cavity. Even through Alex’s nutso wife. Even when Izzie had an entire affair with a fucking ghost (what the fuck, Shonda Rhimes? WTF). Hell, even when I was getting threatened with no sex in the good thing I had going with a favorite friend with benefits who watched with me during Seasons 5 and 6, because I kept rambling on and on about the DP I had planned with McSteamy and McDreamy. (You think I’m kidding? No. And apparently, the satisfactory response to “What are you thinking right now? You’re awfully quiet” is not “Whether stunning Dr. Sloan or gorgeous Dr. Shepherd is going be in front tonight.”)
But okay, I’m a loyal gal. And sticking it out has resulted in seeing some awesome recent plotlines and characters. Derek’s whippersnapper little sister, Amelia, formerly of Private Practice (another doctor show I watched religiously) was a great add, and so was sassy Dr. Herman (Geena Davis!) as a partner in surgery crime for Arizona Robbins. Oh and there was the grandson of the famous doctor who joined the Board but ended up shirtless one time, rendering me unable to ever remember his name again thanks to that bod and those ridiculously hot eyes—he’s been fun. And you know, sure, I don’t watch Grey’s live anymore—I’m sorry, nothing gets watched live except my beautiful college vamps on Vampire Diaries every Thursday night at 8 pm sharp, thank you very much—but I still have a routine with it: if I’m not going out on Friday night, then I snuggle with my cats on the couch to watch Grey’s before bed. It doesn’t quite beat karaoke or dinner out or happy hour, but it’s a good runner-up if nothing else is going on.
Which leads me back to the week of the cold, and me finally streaming Grey’s while I tried not to hack up a lung. I’m going to issue a major spoiler alert right now just to be safe, but holy crap people—I ended up so completely disturbed by Shonda Rhimes’s insane trip down the rocky potential of Meredith and Derek’s currently long-distance marriage last week that I lost my shit.
For those of you who don’t know, MerDer have been through the wringer. They started as a casual bar hookup after Derek’s failed marriage to the uncannily beautiful Addison Montgomery, and while little Miss Grey takes us along through her doctoral education with a bunch of kooky other doctors-to-be, she ends up having this deliciously sweet relationship with the dreamy-as-fuck brain surgeon, Derek Shepherd. All sorts of craziness happens (Bus accidents! Dead friends! Izzie Stevens! Plane crashes! Electrical storms! Shooters in the ER! Being stood-up at the altar! Fake legs! Neglectful moms! Alcoholic dads! Mysterious siblings! The death of my future lover, McSteamy!), but eventually, they solidify their vows and get married—on a post-it. It was a charmer of a scene and takes way too long to explain, but what’s important is that this post-it loving woman has, to this day, never found a more delightful use of her own post-its, which might be why their sticky note marriage still tickles me to pieces. And of course after that, they went on to have some kids and rah-rah, everything is happy.
But then Rhimes comes along with her maniacal ploy to test them, real hard, again and again. As if Meredith’s miscarriage and Addison’s face and everyone moving in and out of their house wasn’t already enough for these two, now she goes and sends Derek off to D.C. and leaves Meredith to learn she’s actually damn successful without being under his shadow. That’s tempting fate now, isn’t it? And then two episodes back Rhimes launches some madness with a mystery woman answering Derek’s phone that starts calling his integrity into question.
NO, SHONDA, NO. YOU CANNOT DO THIS WITH MY BEAUTIFUL DEREK SHEPHERD, INVENTOR OF THE POST-IT MARRIAGE AND ONE HALF OF ONE OF MY LIFETIME SEX FANTASIES.
But she does! She starts making this intensely weird. Meredith is freaking out. The residents around her are freaking out. I am freaking the fuck out. And people, I was sick. This was not good for my health. I’m getting feverish and trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I might for the first time in my life write something I would never dream of drafting—a letter telling a writer I don’t like what she’s doing with my beloved characters—but I’m so fucking enraged by how she’s puppeting Derek around, I want to throw my TV to the ground. I kid you not.
So this whole run of stress continues for most of the show until, thank god, she brings us all back around to reality. Derek is not the bad guy. Meredith is not going to leave him.
I can continue believing in post-its.
And despite this, despite settling down and kicking back on my couch and breathing a true sigh of relief over a goddamn TV show, it hits me what just happened.
Shonda Rhimes did what we writers all want to do: she made her plan, then wrote her brilliant heart out exactly as she wanted to, and even if I didn’t like what she was doing, she got me fired up enough to care and kick and scream and threaten to break my $1,000 TV.
And that, people—that’s great writing. Damn fine writing, in fact. Ambitious, follow your wild-little-mind kind of writing that we should all aspire to each and every time we sit down to write, even if it makes our audience fucking crazy.
No wonder I keep coming back to this show.
PS More sex-writing next time. I promise.