If fake hospitals generated Zagat surveys — those user-written guides in which cranky but committed consumers air unreliable opinions in quote-marked blurbs — here’s how this cranky but committed consumer would rate Seattle Grace Hospital and its host series, Grey’s Anatomy:
It’s an ”infirmary full of soap opera complications” and ”medical cases too hysterical for ER’s County General” (such as the ”guy with the fetish for swallowing doll heads”) in which ”attractive surgical interns and senior staff who appear to have no romantic possibilities aside from one another” enjoy ”making eyes over the tops of surgical masks” and, inevitably, ”weeping in the rain to the accompaniment of plinky chick music.” The series is losing the battle against ”an epidemic of goopy voice-over musings spread from the germs of Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw.” Sometimes the unceasing personal miseries of chief sob sister Dr. Meredith Grey inspire a ”desire to strangle” among those who wish she’d ”stop channeling the tics of Ally McBeal.” But ”it’s impossible to look away” and easy to cheer the ”great color-blind casting” and interracial relationships that are so ”optimistic and casually revolutionary” in their naturalness.
Legions of viewers can’t wait to discuss the next shift in the romantic geometry of Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), her surgeon cutie Dr. Derek Shepherd, a.k.a. Dr. McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey), and Dr. Addison Shepherd (new cast regular Kate Walsh), the straying wife with whom Derek recently reconciled. (Conveniently, Addison joined the staff of Seattle Grace, of all the gin joints in all the world.) Others care, tenderly, about the relationship between the outwardly abrasive, secretly slobby Dr. Cristina Yang (glorious Sandra Oh) and the outwardly arrogant, openly neat Dr. Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington). Some even muster an interest in the tedious flirtation between Katherine Heigl as Dr. Isobel ”Izzie” Stevens and Justin Chambers as Dr. Alex Karev. (As Dr. George O’Malley, T. R. Knight nobly represents the great mass of blobby boys stranded in the friend zone.)
I am not such a viewer. These docs, they’re messes! Myself, I’d build a whole show around the competence and womanly maturity of Chandra Wilson’s Dr. Miranda Bailey, but that’s why I’m not in showbiz: The happily married (and now pregnant) character isn’t unstrung enough to compete with her less experienced, more hormonally hypercharged colleagues. Anyhow, confoundingly, the appeal of Grey’s Anatomy is how permissible it is not to care about any of the crybabies and yet appreciate the machinery of pop-cultural showmanship that controls their woes; it’s permissible even to disdain them, fondly, the way one sometimes does soap opera characters who are dependably annoying.
Impatient as I am for show creator Shonda Rhimes (the rare African-American woman to head a network drama series) and her team of writers to nudge the women of Grey’s Anatomy away from rain, tears, tunes, and too many drinks at a local bar, I’m sticking around, with fellow survey participants, to ”see who blubbers next.”