Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Grey's Anatomy: It's, like, how much less gay could it be? And the answer is... none. None less gay.

Okay, this is massively uncool if true: Ausiello and Kristin are both reporting that the "Grey's Anatomy" producers were ordered to dump both the Callie/Erica lesbian storyline and actress Brooke Smith, who plays Erica Hahn, immediately -- as in, Smith's last episode is this Thursday's, and she doesn't even get a proper goodbye of any kind. Ausiello has Smith's take on getting fired over gay panic, while Kristin reports that Melissa George's character, who will show up in a few weeks, was originally written as bisexual but that the "Grey's" writers were ordered to eliminate that aspect of her character as much as possible.

Now, here's some genuine, non-Alanis irony: Shonda Rhimes and company cook up this storyline because they needed to give Smith and Sara Ramirez something to do, and if these reports are true, then it led to Smith losing her job altogether. Sigh...

47 comments:

Dan said...

This doesn't make any sense to me? Why make such a big, sudden move as opposed to just phasing out the storyline if that's what the producers really want? I just don't get it....

James said...

As gay friendly as ABC has been lately, I'm pretty surprised by this. Brooke Smith's speech last week was one of the most heartfelt the show has done in a while (more so than anything Heigl/Izzie ever has done in quite a while). I hope this doesn't mean Justin on Ugly Betty will suddenly butch it up and Marc will be kicked off the show too.

Anonymous said...

um, could it be that this story line, like most on Grey's, is a bit annoying?

BTW, I've always found Brooke Smith's characters to be annoying, regardless of her sexualy identity on the show.

T-Boz said...

I was just reading about this and I thought, "I wonder if Alan is going to comment on this..." and then, lo and behold, there it was. The E! article I read commented that it was following fairly quickly after Rebecca Romijn was dropped from series regular to recurring, but I thought that was more her decision (i.e., she's having twins and wants to spend time with them). Either way, this seems incredibly stupid.

LA said...

I'm not sure what to believe. ABC has Brothers & Sisters which features a gay brother who had a committment ceremony last season and whose struggles with his orientation and his dating woes have been prominently featured arcs. And on the same ABC show, Ron Rifkin's character came out last season and is reportedly going to have a same-sex relationship this season. Plus, aren't there some gay characters on Desperate Housewives, another ABC show?

golexis said...

This is just disgusting. I'm not even a fan of Grey's Anatomy, but I think that firing Brooke Smith because people don't like Hahn/Callie or gayness in general is offensive.

I realize pandering to people is what happens in the entertainment business all the time, but had hopes that ABC wouldn't pander to American homophobia like this.

Fans hated Gizzie and Knight and Heigl still have jobs. If it's the explicit nature (rolls eyes) of the lesbian relationship alluding the lesbian sex that's ridiculous. All the heterosexual couples get to be relatively sexual on the show.

I expected better from ABC. I am a fan of many of their shows (LOST, Pushing Daisies, Ugly Betty) but now I really don't know if I want to support them. I don't think this kind of behavior should be rewarded. Unfortunately this isn't politics and I don't have a say. I just hope they learn a lesson from this quickly.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was a spoiler free blog . ? . ? . ? . ?

Devin McCullen said...

My personal opinion is that this had less to do with gay panic and more to do with neither actress involved being the normal Hollywood body type. But whatever the reason, I think it's a foolish, dumb, offensive decision, and I hope somebody else is smart enough to give Brooke Smith a job. (You know, Chuck could use a love interest for Casey...)

Bix said...

Speaking as someone who thought that the reaction to killing Tara off Buffy and making Willow temporarily evil on Buffy on their biggest lesbian-based fan board was a ridiculous panicky overreaction by people who were only watching the show out of loyalty to it having a lesbian couple...

I'm agreeing with the viewpoint that something does not seem right here. Between the abruptness of the firing to the point that Hahn's not written out properly, to Melissa George's character being de-gayed, to Rhimes' statement being a perfectly acceptable reason for ending the storyling but not firing Brooke Smith, to Smith feeling it was a network move, to Rhimes saying that the show still has a (leaving out the word "token" while implying such) lesbian character in the form of Callie who has sex with men in what feels like a line designed to fuel the negative reaction...this whole thing is so weird that I feel like I have to assume the worst.

Jennifer said...

Another gay panic example: Zach on Heroes.

Nicole said...

I haven't really watched the show lately to comment on the quality of the storyline, but there were some pretty bad ones when I did watch and abruptly removing a character without resolution smacks of caving in to the pressure of advertisers. I'm surprised Shonda is caving in to this because in a not so distant past, the big deal would have been about an interacial relationship.

With this news surfacing just before Californians have to vote on Prop 8, perhaps this disheartening new may do some good.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Another gay panic example: Zach on Heroes.

That was a little bit different, in that the stories all said that it was Thomas Dekker's camp that was against it, not the producers and not the network. (Dekker has, of course, denied that.)

Alan Sepinwall said...

I thought this was a spoiler free blog . ? . ? . ? . ?

99% of the time, it is. This is an unusual circumstance, and one where outside forces so overwhelmed the storytelling that the storytelling isn't going to make sense over the next couple of weeks.

KC said...

So this is like saying Smith/Hahn is being fired/kicked off the show because she is gay??

Now, in the real world, wouldn't this be considered discrimination due to sexual orientation?

Sad.

LA said...

I thought this was a spoiler free blog . ? . ? . ? . ?

Brooke Smith's firing and how GA is dealing with it is being widely reported in entertainment news last night/today, so this blog hardly spoiled it. I read the news a half dozen times before Alan posted this story.

Stacie said...

Maybe it has to do with the fact that there is absolutely no chemistry between the two women, rather than the storyline itself.

Bix said...

If the issue was the chemistry between the two characters, then why fire Smith instead of just breaking them up? As far as I know, Hahn was made a regular to replace Burke, not to set up the relationship w/ Callie.

Dave T said...

I don't like the idea of a network ordering a storyline dropped any more than I like a network ordering a storyline to be written (NBC's idiotic "green" week).

But here, the outcome is right, as this particular story is just too, too silly.

After decades of gay activist groups trying to make people understand (successfully, for the most part) that homosexuality is not a choice, a supposedly "gay-friendly" show depicts a story predicated on choosing it.

Why were they not outraged by that?

Joe Reid said...

After decades of gay activist groups trying to make people understand (successfully, for the most part) that homosexuality is not a choice, a supposedly "gay-friendly" show depicts a story predicated on choosing it.

I disagree. I think in light of the most recent episode, being gay is totally NOT a choice for Erica, who said outright that she realized something in herself that had been true all along.

Callie's character is more shades-of-grey, bi-curious, sexually adventurous, whatever, but the show was ALSO dealing with that and how she panicked because she didn't feel as hardwired as Erica did.

Man, just as this storyline was getting somewhere I liked, it's getting yanked. That's some bullshit.

Anonymous said...

So you can make all these posts about Grey's Anatomy, but none about Brotherhood.

Alan Sepinwall said...

So you can make all these posts about Grey's Anatomy, but none about Brotherhood.

Copying and pasting from the last time someone demanded a Brotherhood review:

This would imply that I was still watching "Brotherhood" -- or, really, that I had ever cared enough about "Brotherhood" to write about it on a regular basis.

andythesaint said...

Great, now viewers have more ammunition in their constant hate of Melissa George.

bettyd said...

I agree with Joe Reid above. The speech Hahn gave with the glasses analogy was a bit long, but truely made the point that she never knew who she was. Callie, OTOH, is attracted to both. I found her going to Mark for proof of that was silly.

This news seems odd since Shonda has reported that she consulted wtih GLAD and other groups about the Hahn/Torres story line. And ABC has other characters who are gay. I wasn't a big fan of all the sex talk with Callie and Mark, but Hahn's speech seemed to make the point very nicely without getting into the details that I don't want to hear about ANYONE's sex life.

I was hoping that the flashback to Denny (in the previews), meant that Lizzie would finally be fired! I can't believe the Hahn would leave when she is probably right in that story line.

Bix said...

How could I have forgotten the infamous Melissa George interview during her stint on Alias:

-------

After Friends, George's brother called her and said: "`No more lesbians (roles). This is ridiculous'. I'm like `what can you do, the world likes to see it'," George laughs to herself. "I definitely get cast as a lesbian a lot, it's quite funny. I think it's because they like the fact I don't look like a lesbian, that they find it quite interesting. You never know, Sydney and Lauren could become an item."

-------

That amplified much of the Alias fanbase's hate for her at the time.

Joe Reid said...

And honestly, I don't think that the fact that ABC has a bunch of shows with gay and gay-positive characters indemifies them from criticism here.

There's a difference between what a modestly-rated niche show like "Ugly Betty" will be allowed to get away with and what the network wants to feature on their flagship drama, particularly when the audience for that drama has begun to erode and they want to win back that mainstream audience of straight women.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else think Brothers and Sisters has toned down the gay romantic scenes? Kevin and Scotty have pecked, but have they really kissed yet this year?

Lucy said...

Wow, I never watched this show until this series. The only story that actually intrests me is this gay couple. It shows the human sexuality as a scale in which some people can be totally gay or totally straight but others can be in the middle and if they find a relationship with someone they care about they'll pursue it even if they know they are going beyond mainstream.

I may lose intrest in the show if it bows to the pressures of outside forces.

We know this to be a fact they are actually just cutting it out?

Bix said...

There's also the argument that lesbians have less positive network TV exposure than gay men.

Dave T said...

I think in light of the most recent episode, being gay is totally NOT a choice for Erica, who said outright that she realized something in herself that had been true all along.

I found that (as well as the entire story line) totally unbelievable. She didn't know??? Geez, how old is she?

I'm tired of supposedly straight characters suddenly becoming gay because a writer wants to prove a point.

I'm not an expert, but I don't think it works that way. If it does, then to be consistent, they'd have to argue that gay people can become straight, right? Let's see them have the "guts" to depict that! I assure you, a story like that would be just as ridiculous.

Bix said...

Google "late in life lesbian"

Pamela Jaye said...

um, could it be that this story line, like most on Grey's, is a bit annoying?

BTW, I've always found Brooke Smith's characters to be annoying, regardless of her sexualy identity on the show.


I agree on both counts and I'm still pissed! In fact, I could live with fewer gay storylines on TV and I'm still pissed.

(oh and yes, Alex and Izzie were definitely more annoying)

I'm extremely conservative, but last night I was *so* pissed, I went to afterellen.com to see if they had a suggestion. The best they could do was send me to abc.com's "comment form" where I had to blast them in 152 characters or less (but at least they did give me Shonda's statement, which, for me, makes it no longer a rumor)

It can't be the curvyness of the actresses - Sara gets to stay (and stay gay/bi and newbie still gets to come (is she a non-Hollywood size aka healthy woman?)

and of course Kevin and his (guy) on Brothers & Sisters get to stay (and likely have storylines)

So what really happened? Did Brooke call TR a (slur)? Shonda hasn't fired anyone against her will for a season or more.

Will Erica's mother show up to ask Callie for the Sacred Hahn Family Choker? (and what classic actress will play her?)

Does ABC just have it in for the heads of Cardio at SGH?

and what about Naomi?*

Seriously though - much as I've hated Erica lately (in almost every way - most recently in her incessant naysaying of Bailey's recent surgery) I am SO Angry about this.

It may happen all the time in Hollywood, but ABC just seems ruthless (and Brookeless) for no good reason - and even if I hated the charcter, I liked the actress, and she was doing what they wanted, and got canned for it!

Dare I say Isaiah Washington may have been right about The Mouse?
(donning the asbestos undies)

*I swear I'm going to have to put up my own page with a direct link to this phrase (cause wikipedia doesn't have an anchor link for the phrase), till then, see "The Electric Company" at Wikipedia.

T said...

I don't understand how the show has the guts to do this after the whole Isaiah Washington thing. (I had in fact assumed that Hahn had been retconned as gay precisely to make up for the I. Washington thing; this is a commonly-held belief, right? Also to give Callie and Hahn a subplot, but of all possible ones, you know?) I found the subplot badly executed, but all the same, shame on whoever made this decision.

Cree said...

The offensive nature of this firing aside, I have to pose a bigger question. What is REALLY going on here?
If the the story line was the only thing bothering ABC, then why go as far as firing Smith and not giving her a proper send-off.
ABC basically told her to pack her bags and released her with no closure and with no concern for the viewer.
I can't help but think something bigger is going on here behind the scenes. If they wanted the story toned down, it's as simple as changing a few lines in the script. This is a flat out firing and ultimately a slap in the viewer's faces.
By the way, I didn't think Callie and Erica had the best chemistry together, but Smith hit a home run last week with the glasses story. She is a great actress and will land on her feet! Grey's will be less of a show without her.

Pamela Jaye said...

PS - how soon is Smith going to be on Ellen?

No - seriously

Carrie said...

Does anyone else think Brothers and Sisters has toned down the gay romantic scenes? Kevin and Scotty have pecked, but have they really kissed yet this year?

I think that's because they're married now more than anything. It seems that for some reason married people on TV aren't allowed to have romantic scenes.

Pamela Jaye said...

Are we sure this storyline wasn't grey's "penance" for the Isaiah Washington debacle?

Cause that would be just the ultimate irony.

hazmatzak said...

When I first saw the picture, I was puzzled by why Katherine Heigl (on the right) didn't quite look like Katherine Heigl. That's because it was Melissa George. I wonder who else was in the running for that spot.

Anonymous said...

How ironic and hypocritical, especially after the Isaiah Washington debacle! Now I wonder if the lesbian storyline was just a token ruse to pacify the TK Knight "faggot" scandal that occurred on set.

So much for Shonda Rhimes's holier than thou attitude. She is just as much a homophobe as Isaiah Washington.

I've been disgusted with the general behavior of the show-runners and this is really the final straw. I know I won't be watching anymore.

Good riddance, Grey's Anatomy!

Anonymous said...

My personal opinion is that this had less to do with gay panic and more to do with neither actress involved being the normal Hollywood body type.

No offense but Sandra Oh is probably the least attractive cast member. Her face and body are not the norm for Hollywood standards. Her character is also a miserable cow. In fact, most of the characters on this show are morally repellent and downright annoying.

Anonymous said...

If the issue was the chemistry between the two characters, then why fire Smith instead of just breaking them up?

Good question. They did that for all the other horrible pairings on this show. Lest we forget the insufferable "Gizzie" (George and Izzie), George and Callie (worst marriage ever), and the George and Meredith sex romp (retch-worthy). Or Alex and that bipolar pregnant woman with a new face. Or even Izzie and Denny (thank goodness he died)? Most of the couplings on this show have been stupid and ridiculous.

Pamela Jaye said...

Sandra Oh, a cow?
perhaps you are confusing your actresses?

I'll admit it - Cristina often looks like she doesn't quite bother to brush her hair, but in real life, Sandra is quite pretty. (and doesn't cow refer to fat? did you mean Chandra rather than Sandra? I know it's hard on a show with Chandra, Sandra, and Shonda...) (and in Chandra's defense, size or no - she's multitalented and a mom of three)

also for the former anonymous, you didn't mentioned Derek and Meredith. Yay! :-) (your description of the various couplings did make me laugh though)

Joan said...

If the relationship were playing well to audiences, the suits wouldn't have sent down this order. Something about it was turning off enough viewers that the network felt it had to step in.

I haven't watched GA much at all since its first season, but I've jumped back in to see the Kevin McKidd episodes. If McKidd's story lines are generating more positive feedback and ratings than the lesbian discovery storyline, and there's not enough time to do both, which one do you think will survive?

It's not a question of pandering, it's a question of hanging on to your viewing audience -- maintaining a viable business. If people don't like the stories or the characters, they're not going to watch.

Bix said...

My grandma always asks "why they couldn't get a prettier oriental girl" to play Cristina.

Anonymous said...

There is even a website devoted to snarking on Sandra Oh's appearance:

http://www.sandraohisugly.com/

So basically if a suit upstairs thinks an actress is unattractive or doesn't like a certain coupling or storyline, then it's okay to suddenly fire this actress without notice? Gee, that's good to know.

Beware, Sandra Oh! You might be next on the chopping block because you're ugly.

I'm amazed that TR Knight still has a job because "Gizzie" was the most disgusting coupling in the history of this show. Everyone hated "Gizzie". It was gross and repulsive. Why wasn't TR Knight suddenly fired for it?

By the way, why isn't anyone blaming Shonda and her writers for their stupid story lines? Brooke, Sara and the other actors are just doing their jobs. Punishing an actress because Shonda can't write lesbian stories is ridiculous.

Pamela Jaye said...

Patrick Dempsey was on Ellen (of all places) today.

After sitting thru a spoiler, I got to hear her ask him about Brooke's firing and he *Had a Statement from ABC* on a piece of paper, which he read out loud.

something about how they'd enjoyed working with Brooke and her story had come to an "organic" end.

Maybe ABC should run for office...

Pamela Jaye said...

you can find the whole quote here

C said...

This is just indicative of what Shonda has done to the show. She's drawing straws for survival, attempting anything. Sara is a big girl & was very mismatched with the smaller framed pushover George, but they wanted the hispanic woman. They just wrote her into anywhere in the show. Now they try the gay angle. They keep trying the PC approach but keep using the wrong people for it. And to all those asking why Brooke is being fired? Because she's not a member of any politically protected group! Plain & simple these days.