Friday, March 29, 2019

This week, on Grey's Anatomy

Hi, my name is Gwen and I'm a TV-aholic.

"Hi, Gwen."

Mostly my dramatic tastes run with police procedurals (I've seen every single episode of the original Law & Order and SVU), and the legal/medical/firefighter melodramas. I stuck with ER until the very end; LA Law and The Practice were appointment television; more recently I'm digging 9-1-1.

So as you might imagine, Shondaland is my jam. If you don't know what that means, keep reading anyway.

Grey's Anatomy is in its 15th season. I've watched from the beginning. I suffered through Izzie and Denny Duquette, I've watched Bailey mellow with age while still maintaining her badass-ness, I've witnessed Alex's transformation into a pediatric surgeon with a heart, and on and on. Personally, I was ready for Grey's to wrap it up at the end of season 11. If you watch, you know what I'm talking about.

But I just can't quit it.

And last night's episode reminded me why.

Before I go any further, two things:

If you haven't yet watched this episode and you're planning to, come back later. And, trigger warning for sexual assault. I'm not the kind of person who needs trigger warnings, but I can appreciate that some people do.

The March 28th episode of Grey's Anatomy, titled "Silent All These Years," focused on a female patient who arrives at the hospital with a cut on her cheek. Dr. Jo Karev offers to take her to the emergency department and soon realizes that there's much more going on. Jo is herself a survivor of domestic abuse and suspects the same with the patient, Abby. As it turns out, Abby's husband is out of town and she was violently raped by a stranger the night before.

Abby feels safe with Jo and begs her not to leave her side. She also gets terribly upset when she sees any male staff. Eventually she allows Jo and two other female doctors to do a rape kit because she needs surgery and once they sterilize her, any evidence will be destroyed.

As Jo talks to Abby, she tells her over and over that the rape wasn't her fault. She also talks about her own past and how she felt that it was her fault when her husband would beat her. And of course Abby says to her, "it wasn't your fault." How easy it is for us to tell someone else that but not be able to see it for ourselves.

Juxtaposed with this, we see Jo in the near past, knocking on the door of her birth mother's house. Jo was left at a fire station as a baby and bounced around foster homes. She wanted to know where she came from, and she discovers that she was the result of a rape. Her birth mother blamed herself because she had said yes to a date. And in another subplot, Bailey and Ben are faced with their teenage son dating and Ben gives him the talk about consent. (Thank you for showing this very important piece of prevention.)

The most powerful scene is when Abby needs to be taken to an operating room. She's terrified to leave the safety of the exam room she's been in, so Jo arranges for all of the female staff, without knowing why, to line the hallway while Abby is wheeled to surgery. (Music has always been an important part of Grey's Anatomy and in this episode in particular the music is so fitting.)

Here's my reason for writing this post: it is infuriating to me that in 2019 women still blame themselves for being assaulted. And the reason they do is because in many cases they ARE blamed. "What were you wearing?" "How much had you had to drink?" "Were you flirting?" This way of thinking is such bullshit and for real makes me want to burn down the patriarchy.

I've written about this before (see: Standing with the Stanford Survivor, among others) and it makes me angry and sad that I'll probably have to write about it again.

Rape is never ever ever the victim's fault. Ever.

So no, I can't quit Grey's, and I won't. Shonda Rimes, you have a fan for life. Camilla Luddington (Jo) and Khaililah Joi (Abby), I am in awe of you. And a special shout out to Debbie Allen who directed the episode, whom I have adored since Fame. As difficult as it is, I'll be watching "Silent All These Years" again.