Saturday, September 18, 2010

Thursday Night Suicide: Grey's Anatomy

I wrote the entry below last June 10, after a friend asked me about a FB post in which I said that I was finished with Grey's.  But I didn't post it, because I wondered whether I would feel differently a few months later.

I find that, in fact, I feel more strongly than I did at the time.  Last night my children and I went to see The Town.  It's violent and disturbing, and it contains a suicide-by-cops.  

I find that I am looking for evidence of redemption, and that I remain unsure as to when I see it and when I do not.

The June post:

It's Thursday night and so, a bit earlier this evening, my thoughts turned to Grey's Anatomy, which I used to watch on Thursdays.  One of my friends asked me why I had sworn it off after the season finale. 

Oh . . .  that season finale.  In a nutshell: the quietly deranged husband of a deceased patient wanders the hospital, searching for the three doctors he sees as responsible for his wife's death.  The SWAT team is phenomenal only in its ineptitude (thus dragging the show out to two hours), and several people get shot dead before the man locates his final intended victim, the former Chief of Staff.  (The present Chief is by that time in surgery due to his own gunshot wound.)  To his dismay, the man with the gun has only one bullet left; his plan had been to shoot the three doctors in question and then himself.  The Chief, a model of calm and unintimidated presence, convinces the man that suicide is preferable to prison, and walks out alive.

It is a powerfully suspenseful show. Many of the characters rise to  great heights of courage.  And given the twists of plot, the chief's actions seem reasonable - heroic, even.

But a physician convincing another man to end his own life?  And the ruthless murder of several innocent people and the terrorization of an entire hospital?  This is entertainment?

Of course, it's the suicide that finished off Grey's for me.  I suppose the show might redeem itself if it makes genuine effort to address the mental, emotional, and spiritual fate of the Chief, a man sworn to save lives, in the wake of his having advocated death  by suicide to the killer.  Unlikely, given past Grey's responses to trauma ~ it is, after all, a television show, not real life, and so it doesn't linger as we do in real life. 

I can't say that I've spent a lot of time thinking about this Grey's episode.  I have enough real life thinking to do where it comes to suicide and the deaths of young people.  But I do wonder:  could not there have been some kind of redemption for the man with the gun? 


  1. I don't remember the part about the man turning the gun on himself...I must have tuned it out or turned away. I had such a hard time with that entire episode. But yes, there might be some redemption IF the writers give McDreamy something to process regarding that conversation. It ought to bring on a full blown ethical crisis in him. We'll see though if it goes that way....that is IF I watch it...

  2. I'm glad you shared what you saw in the TV episode and how you felt.

    Short answer: Yes, of course, they could write redemption into any character's plot line.

    My question: Is there any kind of redemption for TV?

    But, of course, it's not about redemption. People have given up on redemption, overall, it seems to me. So, TV reflects the prevailing attitude, which seems to be (overly simplified): "Poor person over there. I hate that you have 'issues' but that's not my problem. You brought this on yourself by being (choose one) poor, lazy, depressed, mentally ill, born in a country not the U.S., not a Christian" and the list goes on and on.

    It seems to me that TV is reflecting the conventional wisdom value that some (privileged) lives are more valuable than others. And I also do think that people, even in church, have given up on redemption as a real possibility that we can participate in mediating for each other and ourselves.

    I'm not preaching this week, so forgive the mini-sermon-esque nature of this reply. I, too, have made decisions along the way about not watching something (movie, TV, etc.) that others judge a must-see. And I always look forward to what you write. Thank you.

  3. MP, it's the (former) chief, not Derick -- Derick is on the operating table.

    But after the speed-resolution of George's mother's grief, I don't hold out any hope.

  4. Somehow I stopped watching "Grey's" a few years ago, so I missed that. I used to watch "House," too, but don't seem to be consistent enough to watch anything anymore.

    I saw "The Town" yesterday and find it more disturbing today as it keeps coming to mind. So much shooting, dying, and ruined lives. Is Charlestown in Boston really like that?? Or is it typical of other communities? That is so frightening to see how trapped people are in their lives of origin. I'd rather see redemption, not just for one person!

    Wishing you peace as you continue living and caring.

  5. Unfortunately Robin, I sense you are correct. It seems the TV industry has created a culture of a 60 (or 30) minute fix for the challenges faced in life. And somehow the "bad guy/gal" whether it be on Grey's or the CSI's will not be granted the chance for redemption. A great sermon in the making on that one, Robin.

    BTW: I am loving, repeat, loving your quotes, photos, and backgrounds.

  6. I've never watched Grey's, so I can't comment on that, but as for redemption and television--Lost was very much about redemption, I thought.

    Mostly, I just wanted to mention how striking the new header/colors are.

  7. I don't watch that show, but once you live thru crushing loss, you can see right thru the tv/movie versions. They are so cavalier and it's disappointing. Music and poetry, and maybe some paintings, seem to be art forms with some integrity in describing the pain of loss. I'm thankful for those and often comforted by them.