Thursday, October 04, 2007

Grey's Anatomy: Preston's mama drama

Spoilers for "Grey's Anatomy" episode two coming up just as soon as I punch a guy in the face...

This episode, called "Love/Addiction," was the work of a creator who's been reading her press clippings (and message board chatter, and blog comments) and decided it's time for a little damage control. Heck, this is the first "Grey's" episode that I've seen in advance since the sixth episode of season two ("Into You Like a Train"), as Shonda's spoiler paranoia -- not to mention the belief, in her office as well as at ABC, I'm sure, that the show didn't need additional publicity -- kept the network from sending out screeners for a very long time. When the screeners start coming back, that's when you know the show needs some help (in this case for perception more than ratings, since the overall numbers are still great).

The episode itself was filled with meta commentary about events from last season, with Diahann Carroll returning as Burke's mom for the sole purpose of telling people off for how they behaved in season three -- and maybe, by extension, how Shonda wrote them. Hey, Meredith, maybe it was a bad call to turn the end of Cristina and Burke's relationship into an excuse to publically break up with your boyfriend! Hey, George, maybe you've been acting like an immature fool for rushing into a marriage with a woman you clearly don't love! Etc.

There was even the moment where Izzie, while tending to Ben Vereen, utters the most meta line in the history of the show: "Just because people do horrible things doesn't mean they're horrible people."

Don't hate on Izzie, people! She's not horrible! She just does horrible things! All the time! Every minute of every show! But she's a good person deep inside!

That all this self-examination of the direction of the series and its various romantic storylines took place in an episode where the sledgehammer narration theme was addiction is kind of fascinating. You could argue that Shonda's addicted to her characters, and to the paths she feels they've made her place them on. Everyone hates George and Izzie, even regardless of their feelings for Callie. Everyone is tired of the never-ending Mer/McDreamy break-up/reunion cycle. But Shonda keeps going there, over and over and over again -- even within an episode that's largely a commentary about how Shonda can't stop herself from doing it.

They say that the first step towards beating an addiction is admitting you have a problem. Maybe an episode like this is a sign that Shonda has figured out the problems plaguing the series. But if it is, the fact that she keeps backsliding within it -- that McDreamy dumps Meredith yet again and then gets back with her, that George flip-flops 17 times on whether to tell Callie the truth -- is a reminder that admitting the problem is only the first step in a long, long recovery process.

Or maybe I'm reading too much into all of this. Maybe it's just another annoying, self-congratulatory episode of latter-day "Grey's."

What did everybody else think?

20 comments:

Theresa said...

My favorite part of the show was the interaction between Cristina: "So he's not coming back, even to say goodbye?" Thank you, Shonda, for that clarification.

Also, I must admit that I liked the moment where Izzie told Callie she was doing a good job. Had Izzie not gone psycho two seasons ago, that could've been a really heartfelt moment---it almost felt like the old Izzie. But not quite, because I've hated her for the past two (ok, maybe 1 1/2) seasons and instead the moment was just sickening. I was glad Callie kicked her out. Kick all of them out, I say!

I've been a fan of the show since the first episode aired, but now I more watch it out of loyalty/habit than anything else, and it's probably going to get bumped from my schedule unless it does something amazing before Scrubs starts. Sorry, Shonda, but I might have to kick Izzie (and everyone else) out of my OR, too.

Jake said...

The best thing about Grey's Anatomy is it gives my DVR an hour vacation every week.

Anonymous said...

For me Grey's Anatomy has been a joke since February sweeps. It had such potential in the begining and they have squandered it. And all the character have been distorted by such ridiculous circumstnces that there are barely glimpses of the wit and pathos that brought people to the show in the first place. By the wedding last season I was done. Mostly because of what Preston's Mom called Meridith on in this episode. But I was curious last week to see if Shonda had listened to anything the audience and critics had to say and the answer, I felt was a resounding NO!

I thought I was done. But my DVR had other plans and taped it last night. Over coffee this morning I tried to watch because of your post and I just don't see it as a Mea Culpa as much as a thumbing of the nose.

Saying that, there was one moment in the parts that I wasn't fastforwarding through that I thought worked. The scene where Meredith called Lexie on the fact that they don't have "the same" Dad". I thought that was the clearest Mer had ever been and it worked, it's a pity that that insight isn't going to go anywhere.

Also -- Am I the only one who feels that the introduction of Lexie make Meridith and Christina look way too old for being where they are on the medical food chain? That has bugged me since the start but now it seems even more apparent. But of course if they had chosen someone younger to play Meredith there would have been a definite "ewww" factor to her and McDreamy.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Am I the only one who feels that the introduction of Lexie make Meridith and Christina look way too old for being where they are on the medical food chain?

We talked last week about how there was an earlier episode where Meredith mentioned that she messed around for a while in between college and med school (one of her mom's many grievances with her), which was no doubt used to justify Ellen Pompeo clearly being older than most of the other interns. Cristina's too much of an achiever to do that, so either we're supposed to pretend Sandra Oh looks younger than she does, or assume that she did some kind of elaborate post-grad, pre-med school kind of academic program for a few years in her early 20s.

Anonymous said...

This show needs to start only giving lines to Alex, Bailey, and Sloane. And I guess they can let Christina talk sometimes if it is just to yell orders at her interns. Everyone else is not worth the time to watch.

Anonymous said...

I think I am done with the show. When the only joy I get from a show is bashing it the next day for its unyielding stupidity, I have to abandon it. I don't have time for that.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Also, I must admit that I liked the moment where Izzie told Callie she was doing a good job. Had Izzie not gone psycho two seasons ago, that could've been a really heartfelt moment---it almost felt like the old Izzie.

The problem is, at this point, it's impossible to tell if it was really heartfelt or if it was just Izzie saying something to assuage her guilt for stealing this woman's husband.

Kerry said...

They mentioned in the first season (the episode where Cristina and Alex compete on who can finish delivering lab results) that Cristina has a master's from Berkeley along with her Stanford med degree and a bachelor's from Smith. So I accept that she's older and has that in common with Meredith.

Anonymous said...

I thought the episode about schooling referenced that Christina had a post bachelor degree, but I thought it was a PhD. That would really explain her real age in the 30's. Just checked IMDB and she was born in 1971, which makes her 36.

I also recall thinking when they mentioned Smith College that Christina would be the character involved when the rumours of lesbian relationship was put out there last year.

jcpbmg said...

this was definitely better than the last dozen or so episodes (including s3) so it should come as no surpsise that it was written by deb cahn, aka 'love her, love her mind, love her shoes'

cahn wrote some of the best post-sorkin episodes of tww and i'm seriously hoping she'll do the same with grey's (even though shonda's technichally still there)

Daniel said...

One of the things I found most interesting last night was that there was a brief second, as George and Izzie were making eyes at each other and moping about secrets and lies and other BS, that I thought George was about to say, "This is exactly like the theme of the big case we're working on this week! Isn't it odd how that keeps happening to us?"

But that might have been a bit too meta...

-Daniel

Kristen said...

I thought last night's episode was definitely better than the premiere, and had some aspects that I use to love about Grey's (Christina trying to hold it together, Bailey physically and verbally abusing Alex because she taught him better, even some non-angsty Mer/Der moments). But you can't fix everything in one episode.

I still can't stand most of the characters and storylines. It's officially been removed from my DVR, and I'll wait until you give the 'all clear' to start watching again.

Theresa said...

"The problem is, at this point, it's impossible to tell if it was really heartfelt or if it was just Izzie saying something to assuage her guilt for stealing this woman's husband."

Yep, that's why it only almost felt like the old Izzie. I liked the moment until I remembered that it was crazy, adulterous season 3-4 Izzie and not sympathetic season 1 Izzie, who, as far as I am concerned, are two different characters.

Also, re: Cristina's schooling, she tells the Chief, I think, that she has "an MD from Stanford and a PhD from Berkeley" when she is assigned to babysit Bailey's baby, because she follows it up with the statement, "I can handle this diaper...unless you want to." (Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0763962/quotes). So, yes, that would make her considerably older than her fellow interns, except for Meredith.

Dee said...

Last night's episode was pretty good. These people are so neurotic, tho. I'm not so sure I would want any of them providing health care for me or my family.
Meredith was being really hateful to Lexi. It's not Lexi's fault that their dad abandoned Meredith and the latter should make an effort to get to know her sister. Derek could do better than this and why admit you have a problem and then run off for sex and sarcasm with that problem?
I like Cristina, but she needs to grow up. Being afraid to face Mama Burke was bad enough, but not returning her wedding gifts was beyond bad. Mark screwed up, but why didn't Callie make sure the baby was not in the same room as the father who was obviously not together, not to mention a drug dealer? I like Bailey. She is a bully in her own way, but these doctors seem to need it. Chandra should win a supporting Emmy next year. She is a good actress.
Izzy, George, and Callie are all neurotic. Callie isn't the tough biker chick type I thought she was from the few episodes I saw from last year, but George was still an idiot to marry her. She's going to dominate him for sure and if/when he admits the affair with Izzy she just may beat the daylights out of him. Scary! Izzy isn't so bad. Look how she defied that creepy father in the premiere and saved the deer's life to make the little boy happy. She's self-centered, true, and she should leave George alone to let his marriage fail as it surely will in time, but she's not the demon y'all are making her out to be. George eloped with Callie because his dad died and he was upset. Now everyone is suffering because he did that. Izzy needs to grow up and so does he.

Anonymous said...

yup, it's true - Cristina has three degrees, including a PhD. That had to take some time..

>One of the things I found most interesting last night was that there was a brief second, as George and Izzie were making eyes at each other and moping about secrets and lies and other BS, that I thought George was about to say, "This is exactly like the theme of the big case we're working on this week! Isn't it odd how that keeps happening to us?"

ah, but then it would be Scrubs!

(no, I'm wrong - it would be Boston Legal. but I love Scrubs more.)

As they say on Scrubs about Grey's - "Oh, I do love that show. It's like they've been watching our lives and just put it on TV."

and also

"…Oh, and FYI, I happen to like the voice-overs on Grey’s Anatomy…except for when they’re really vague and generic."

--Pam (who notes that Shonda finally blogged about last week's ep and I just haven't had the energy to reply)

Anonymous said...

I thought "Into You Like A Train" was the last decent episode of Grey's Anatomy. Obviously, last season was horrendous, but the trouble actually started midway through season 2, many weeks before the Denny Duquette/prom-in- the-hospital debacle. And in my opinion, I think the real trouble in Grey's can be marked by the departure of Peter Horton's involvement behind the scenes.

I've made The Office (and Scrubs, when it returns) my offical Thursday night 9:00 p.m. viewing, but I watch Grey's out of some sort of misguided investment I have in the characters. (And I agree with the person who mentioned above that the only characters who should be allowed to speak are Karev, Sloane, Bailey, and Yang.) That said, I thought this week's episode was the first step in the right direction in a long, long time. Though not back to its "glory days" of season 1, it was obvious that there was effort made to recapture the tone and style of its earliest season. It's enough to keep me interested for the time being.

Alan, I totally agree with your assertion that this episode was the response of a creator who is well aware of the public's blog posts and message board rants.

Dee said...

... the only characters who should be allowed to speak are Karev, Sloane, Bailey, and Yang.)
Sloane? Isn't he the one who messed up by telling the drug dealing dad that the cops were coming and freaking said dad into kidnapping his crystal meth affected baby who then had a stroke? Sloane who is apparently a womanizer? I'm not too sure about him, although he was right about McDreamy who does have a problem and needs to lose Meredith until she is able to put the past behind her enough to have a mature relationship. He seems like a nice guy and deserves more from a woman than sex and sarcasm.
I still think that Bailey and The Chief are the most together characters on the show. Cristina may be a talented surgeon, but she is a head case, otherwise. Both she and Burke were so into their careers that they shouldn't have had kids, but other than that they would've had a great marriage and he could've taught her a lot. Mama Burke was right on that score.
I still say George is the one who is responsible for the Izzy/George/Callie triangle. Although, I haven't watched the show that long, I would not be surprised if he has been in love with Izzy for a long time, best friends or not. He married Callie for security not romance and she is gonna get hurt if he chooses Izzy and Izzy is gonna get hurt if he chooses Callie and who is to blame but himself? I think it was kind of neat when Izzy described herself as "Bambi" cuz she is kind of like a gazelle, beautiful and kind of fragile and wild while Callie, while not bad looking, is more solid and ordinary and not what I would consider feminine... and that smile Izzy gave George when he said he was going to confess to Callie would melt the knees of most guys. George is not McDreamy or McSteamy and let's face it, Izzy, not Callie, would be the dream girl for any guy like George. He never would've dreamed he could have someone like Izzy for anything but a friend and now he knows better. It is gonna be interesting to see what they do with this. I think that George is going to be afraid or otherwise unable to confess to Callie and that she will make sure of it. What probably will happen is that Izzy and George will continue to want each other and fantasize and suffer for most or all of the season and not be able to do anything about it. Their fantasies could be really hot and should draw in a lot of viewers if the writers use a lot of imagination in coming up with them.

Anonymous said...

quite simply, i have never been so excited about a series in my life. i love it love it love it, it just fascinates me and keeps me wondering, laughing, drooling, over mer and mcdreamy, love the whole cast. fun, much fun, laughter and excitment, as well as hugs, love and kisses!!!! i love romance~~

Dee said...

Gah! I should get a job writing for "Grey's Anatomy". These people have NO imagination when it comes to storylines. I can not believe they had George tell Callie even if it was the moral thing to do. Like I said, they could've strung this out for most of the season. Years ago, I used to be a big fan of the soap "The Guiding Light". One of the characters, Nola, was a big fan of old movies and had a wild imagination. Her fantasies drew in a lot of viewers to the show and the same could've been true if they'd done this with Izzie and/or George, but the writers blew it. :-(
The more I see of Bailey the more I like her. Can't say the same for Sloane, tho. He was a total jerk for spilling the beans about George being a return intern-hiss!

Dee said...

Oh wow, not only did George tell Callie, but we didn't even get to see a cat fight between her and Izzie. And then the show ends with Callie crying, or at least depressed, and Izzy crying and where was George??
And will McDreamy find someone who can make a commitment or will Meredith finally grow up? It was pretty neat, tho, how he helped Cristina learn how to be a better resident re: teaching her interns, (or at least Lexie). Bailey makes a much better "Nazi" resident. Cristina just comes off looking like that word that rhymes with witch. I like her, but it's obvious that she has no patience for teaching others. She's much too focused on her own surgical career.