I stayed away. It had been awhile since Grey’s Anatomy went on hiatus due to the actor’s strike and, well…. I stayed away. At first, it was tough. Grey’s was that moment of tenderness (albeit artificial) in an otherwise hardened hustle-and-bustle New York City workweek. But after weeks of not watching, it became easier to reflect on what the show had already given me than to venture into anything new it had to offer.
Since the last new episode of the show earlier this year, I became a Tivo subscriber. The funny thing about Tivo is the more than you accumulate in content, season passes and those beloved ‘Tivo Suggestions’, the more than you don’t casually browse through channels. (You know, like real people do.) And so it was only after having seen a snippet of Meredith Grey at the beginning of my scheduled Lost recording did I realize that it was the third episode since the show returned with new content — and that I had neglected to start a season pass.
For a moment, I even considered just kinda sitting it out. Maybe I’d let the shows accumulate and if I felt the urge, I’d download them in a season and just start watching again. Or maybe not. Being away from the folks at Seattle Grace made me forget what made the show such a wonderful part of the week.
Strangely, I’d heard rumors that the show wasn’t doing well in the ratings anymore. There was talk that they’d even resorted to trying to use Isaish Washington’s likeness to try and bring the ratings up. (All lies, by the way.) Oddly enough, it was the rumor that the show wasn’t churning out ‘greatness’ anymore that made me curious. And so I thought now was as good a time as any. And with that, I downloaded the first three new episodes since March.
Shame on me for staying away.
Often I’ll have people ask me what it is about the show that makes me so compelled to watch — and whether they should start watching too. To the first question, my response is always different. There’s so much to love about the show. But to the latter, it’s always a firm “no”. To jump into Grey’s Anatomy in it’s fourth season would be to rob yourself of what has proven to be a remarkable look at the development of wildly compelling characters in strange and fascinating situations.
Recently I embarked on a journey to catch up on what some had claimed to be one of the best series’ in television history, The Wire. While I found The Wire to be well crafted, unpredictable, engaging in it’s own right and very entertaining, I’ll go out on a limb and say that while The Wire is certainly an original look into the lives of an under funded police department and the problems that Baltimore deals with, it doesn’t come close to defining it’s characters and it’s experiences the way that Grey’s does. Of course, they are two completely different shows with different aims. And Grey’s has the benefit of packing twice the number of shows into their seasons. But it’s much more than the quantity of shows that make it great. It’s the way that it defines its characters. The Grey’s writers have done something amazing: they’ve managed to develop characters that remain completely true to themselves at their core while at the same time allowing them to slowly evolve in ways that make you believe in the passion of the human spirit.
I could go on forever about how incredible a person I thing George O’Malley is. Or how I never thought I’d feel compassion for Mark Sloan — yet somehow I do. There was a period of time that I was head over heels for Callie Torres, but realized that it was probably just that she bears a resemblance to someone I once knew. (Or not. Callie’s fine.) The sadness that so many of the characters are going through now makes me a little sad too, strangely. Right now, there probably isn’t a soul who’s life is on an upward slope at Seattle Grace. Everyone is going through their own form of emotional torture. Everyone. But after having been left in the hands of writer’s this great for the past four years, you just know something wonderful is going to happen. And in ways that you’d least expect.
I’d stayed away. And it wasn’t all that bad. Even had I not watched for the rest of the year, Grey’s story is so rich that you could just sit and dissect what you’ve already been fed for the next few years. But it certainly was great to be back. To those who point to the ratings or to a storyline that they feel might be on the way down, I’ll say that you probably don’t ‘get’ what makes this show special. They say it’s darkest just before the dawn. I’m not sure how many shows are left in this season that may have been shortened due to the strike, but one thing’s for sure — the payoff for those who stick around is probably going to be pretty amazing.