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Old 09-21-2006, 10:10 AM   #31
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By Carrie Osgood
Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Often when I'm watching "Grey's Anatomy" I feel like I work at Seattle Grace Hospital.

Seriously.

Sure, I'm not a surgeon and I never deal with patients, but frequently I feel like the stories on screen eerily reflect my own life in the way that every medical case mirrors a character's personal struggle.

And I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Over the past year-and-a-half, my diverse girlfriends (and some male friends as well), from the Bay Area to Boston, have all independently gravitated toward the medical drama that examines the anatomy of life's many shades of grey.

Through the hospital staff's professional exploits and extracurricular sexploits, the show strikes such a relatable chord that it has become a vernacular for how my friends and I discuss and deal with our own lives.

For example, around the time of Meredith and George's sexual incident, I briefly dated my own "George," a beautiful soul who would have given me the world, if only I was physically attracted to him. And several months back, I had an ill-fated connection with a "McDreamy," a chemical force of a man who could knock me off my feet with the slightest glance. He remains the occasional awkward presence in my life.

When I was caught under my "McDreamy's" spell, all I could think of was the show's line, "I hate how into you I am." This line was not said about Dr. Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd. Rather, Callie was talking about her feelings for George, demonstrating in true "Grey's Anatomy" fashion that someone's "George" is someone else's "McDreamy."

The appeal of "Grey's Anatomy" goes beyond the relationship hurdles of finding, holding onto and losing one's "McDreamy." It also reflects the common struggle contemporary women face professionally in our quest to have it all.

The show, which returns Thursday on ABC, is led by creator and executive producer Shonda Rhimes, a successful black woman who has found a way to infiltrate the ranks of Hollywood, one of many white-male-dominated industries that rarely take women as seriously as men.

In conceiving the show, Rhimes concocted a recipe with familiar ingredients in the forefront, served with an underlying richness that deliciously addresses the diversity, depth and evolving roles of women today.

The show's central character, Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), is Ally McBeal and Carrie Bradshaw in scrubs. A lovely, thin, inquisitive woman, she is successful professionally, but a mess when it comes to men and relationships.
Real women

But the similarity to those popular shows' female characters ends there. "Ally McBeal" was full of eccentrics, and the women of "Sex and the City" each represented a portion of the female psyche (the cynic, the romantic and the sexual free-spirit).

"Grey's Anatomy" reflects the diversity of real women. Dr. Christina Yang (Sandra Oh) and Dr. Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) anchor the show with their compelling, unconventional humanity. Together with newcomer Dr. Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez), they give faces to the underrepresented Asian, black and Hispanic communities while refusing to succumb to Hollywood stereotypes.

Former model Dr. Isobel "Izzie" Stevens (Katherine Heigl) has a curvy, healthy-sized body, unlike virtually every other designated "pretty girl" on television. And Dr. Addison Shepherd (Kate Walsh) fights the notion that an extremely successful woman must be bitchy, neurotic or masculine when working at the top of the food chain.

What unites these women at Seattle Grace Hospital is their common desire to be strong, successful professionals. They each embrace their sexuality, but they also struggle with how their femininity can be a liability for retaining respect and how it can soften them into feeling vulnerable and insecure.

Every member of the ensemble cast is deeply flawed, and, as a result, endearing and sympathetic. The more each character transforms into a multifaceted person, the more interesting and enjoyable the show is to watch.

My friends and I can't wait to see what will happen this season. Recently I was walking down the street with a thirtysomething friend of mine, and the moment she saw an advertisement for the show's new episodes, she squealed and jumped up and down with excitement.

Even as it can so obviously bring out the little girl in all of us, "Grey's Anatomy" has shown that today's women deserve to be taken seriously.

Seriously.
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Old 09-21-2006, 10:12 AM   #32
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Good article!

I bawled like a baby last night too. I love those last two episodes! I'm not going to be able to watch, but will be taping it and watching it as soon as I get home tonight.
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Old 09-21-2006, 10:19 AM   #33
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As soon as I get home from the game I'll be rushing to my tv to see what happened.

And totally non-important subject here, but, who else liked George's hair better before Callie cut it?
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Old 09-21-2006, 11:13 AM   #34
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And totally non-important subject here, but, who else liked George's hair better before Callie cut it?
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Old 09-21-2006, 11:20 AM   #35
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Not long now!
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Old 09-21-2006, 01:31 PM   #36
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By Donna Freydkin and William Keck, USA TODAY


Seattle Grace Hospital may be loaded with medicine's most mesmerizing males, but it's the female doctors who make Grey's Anatomy a McDreamy attraction for viewers.

Of the average 20 million who tuned in each Sunday last season, two out of three were women, even though overall TV viewership is more evenly split. That distaff devotion has helped make Grey's, which moves to a new night tonight for its season premiere (ABC, 9 ET/PT), television's No. 3 scripted series overall, and No. 2 (behind Desperate Housewives) among women 18-49.

For actress Ellen Pompeo, there's certainly no gray area when it comes to understanding why female viewers check in for their weekly dose of these multiethnic, complex femmes.

"Most of the time on television, we're used to seeing women being bimbos or tramps — anything but flawed but also smart and professional," says Pompeo, 36, who portrays the often-whiny yet prodigiously talented (and bed-hopping) Meredith. "In the past, you'd have to go to cable to see a character so raw."

The creative talents behind the show resist categorizing Grey's. "We don't actually tend to think of it as a 'chick show,' " says executive producer Betsy Beers. "We like to believe that the themes and issues we deal with on Grey's are universal. For example, how does one juggle long hours at a demanding job and still try to have a successful personal life? Half the men and women I know wrestle with that on a regular basis, as do I."

But, Beers adds, "having said that, I can't deny there is a strong female voice in the writing as it was created by, and is run by, a woman" — executive producer Shonda Rhimes.

Fan Renee Dechert, an associate English professor at Northwest College in Powell, Wyo., was pulled in right from the start of the pilot by the voice of Meredith, which opens and closes each episode, much like Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw or Desperate Housewives' Mary Alice Young.

"Obviously, a female perspective is shaping how we'll see what we're about to see," Dechert says. "And just to make sure that we've got it, she'll do a closer at the end. Such a narrative technique is entirely in the tradition of Sex and the City, a show equally based on feminine fantasy."

To be sure, the Grey ladies are no wallflowers or saccharine sisters bonding and giggling over cafeteria Jell-O. They struggle. They make mistakes. They compete. They support. They commit. They cheat.

And each character's choices affect the audiences' affection. Viewers have come to both love and loathe not only Meredith Grey but also tough-talker Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson); snarky, abrasive commitment-phobe Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh, who declined to be interviewed); emotional train wreck Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl); deeply ambitious and bossy Addison Shepherd (Kate Walsh); and the mysterious hospital-basement dweller Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez).

'Strong, unique voices'

To Walsh, the show's appeal to women is as glaringly obvious as her character's scarlet lipstick.

"Every character has such a strong voice, a unique voice," says Walsh, 38. "It's really rare, as a woman, to see women interestingly and accurately portrayed on television. You get relegated to the mom or the long-suffering wife or the whore or the cop. To actually see women with all the complexities and facets of the male characters we've seen through the years ... people didn't even know they missed it until they saw it."

Wilson, 37, received an Emmy nomination for playing "The Nazi," the interns' not-so-affectionate nickname for their supervisor. A serious soap opera fan, she consumes four hours of daytime viewing every day. "I'm sitting here going through my tapes right now," she says, speaking from her home. She believes Grey's qualifies as a soap "like Knots Landing or Dallas was — where you want to come back next week and see how each situation resolved itself."

But unlike the often one-dimensional divas on traditional soaps, Grey's women don't get involved in petty catfights. The cast credits Rhimes for consistently keeping their characters respectable and believable.

Wilson reminds that when there was a locker room brawl (over a syphilis breakout), it was between characters Alex and George, not the ladies.

"It's encouraging a different experience for women and showing that it is entirely possible we can be friends and still be competitive," says Heigl, 27, whose emotional intern Izzie quit the medical program in last season's finale after getting involved with a heart patient and committing medical misconduct in her struggle to keep him alive.

Bring back Izzie!

In the new season, the women unite in a campaign to get Izzie reinstated. "And that's fascinating, because that just does not happen very often," Heigl says. "We're all competing for the medical cases or to get the best surgeries, but they also all helped Izzie at a time when she was making a crazy decision and basically throwing her career away. They stood by her and didn't abandon her."

Rhimes, 36, also has assembled prime time's most colorful cast. And that, too, accounts for the show's appeal, says Ramirez, a Latina whose orthopedic surgeon (and the object of George's affections) becomes a regular this year.

When Ramirez, 31, met Rhimes in New York last year to discuss her role, she said she was elated to discover "that Shonda was an African-American woman. She reflects on TV what I see as my experience in the world. She's got people of different races and backgrounds, but doesn't make a big comment about it. They are characters who have flaws, and — oh, by the way, they're African-American. Or Asian. Or whatever."

By all accounts, this diverse cast has bonded off-screen as well. Walsh says she's closest to Heigl and in fact had drinks with her and co-star T.R. Knight (George) the night before this interview. "It's safe to say that we totally love each other," Walsh says, laughing.

"It's a very fun atmosphere on set," echoes Pompeo. "It would be too difficult if we didn't have fun with the hours we have to put in."

For one episode, real-life knitters Wilson and Heigl taught Pompeo how to handle needles and yarn. Walsh and Heigl live near each other and often meet for drinks and prior to awards shows get gussied up together in one of their homes.

"There's an unbelievable amount of support and encouragement among these women," says Heigl. "We're very much there for each other in a way I haven't experienced outside of my very, very close friends that I've had since childhood. And I've had past working relationships with women that haven't been that supportive ... that have been more competitive."

Heigl recalls receiving a phone call at home from Pompeo after last season's finale showed the emotional scene in which Izzie broke down and climbed into bed with her beloved, dead patient, Denny.

"Ellen was so incredibly supportive and complimentary," Heigl says. "That meant so much to me because I'm so critical of myself and value her opinion. It made me want to cry."

Still, the actors have separate lives off-screen. "We don't have (much) time to hang out," admits Pompeo. "We spend all day together, and it's not like we're going to run home and hang out together, too. We all have things to do ... boyfriends, dogs to take care of."

Pompeo lives with longtime boyfriend Chris Ivery and their two poodles. Walsh is single. Heigl became engaged in June to musician Josh Kelley. Ramirez says she has a beau. Oh split from her Sideways director, Alexander Payne, after a brief marriage. And though Wilson declines to discuss the nature of her relationship with the father of her three children, daughters Serena, 13, and Joy, 8, and son, Michael, 10 months, keep her quite busy.

Wilson realizes what fans truly want to know is who their favorite characters will be hooking up with.

"The setting, the medical emergencies, the individual quirks of the characters, the humor — that's all secondary," says fan Petra Otto of Neenah, Wis. "In the end, I'm tuning in every week to watch them find love ... and hope that they all get loved in return.

"Heck, I even want McDreamy to make the right decision so that he, too, can be happy. But the sly writers added a twist here, didn't they? McDreamy can't be happy without breaking one of the gals' hearts."

On the strict orders of tight-lipped Rhimes, the cast has been given a gag order about revealing anything plot-related.

This season "you see everybody stand on their own a little bit more," says Walsh. "You get to see a different side of all of us. A little more history of where they've come from and where they're going. Every character in the show takes on a different direction. It's a lot more in-depth but still in the structure of the hospital and cases."

And Otto will be happy to learn the messy, misguided love triangle of Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), his wife Addison and lover Meredith will be resolved. And a new twist will come via the arrival of Derek's sister.

Fans caught up in the action

Viewers feel so passionately about all these hookups, breakups and entanglements that some have even accosted Walsh in public to offer insight and encouragement.

"I was doing this event in Chicago, and this woman who'd had a few drinks came up to me, grabbed my arm like she knew me and said, 'You need to let McDreamy go! Let it go. It's done,' " recalls Walsh.

Not even Pompeo knows how the triangle will play out. "I don't know that I end up with anybody," she says. But Pompeo would be just fine continuing without a clear resolution, allowing Meredith to play the field, as many a man would do. Sex and the City aside, it's something rarely seen on television.

"It's what a lot of women do, anyway," Pompeo says. "But guys get a pat on the back, and women get a reputation."

Heigl believes female viewers are responding to such sexual liberation. "We've all been in those circumstances where there's been a double standard, where a man can act any way he wants, but if a woman behaves in a similar way, she's labeled something," Heigl says. "I think a lot of women appreciated that Meredith stands up for all women in a way."

Heigl says she still hears from female fans "how much they loved Meredith's speech to Derek that 'you don't get to call me a whore!' "

Heigl pauses.

"Was it 'whore' or 'slut'? I can't remember. But anyway, people loved it."
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Old 09-21-2006, 02:04 PM   #37
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great articles, thanks for posting!

I wish we could all sit in a (physical) room together and watch the show!
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Old 09-21-2006, 02:07 PM   #38
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Fantastic article. I loved the "you don't get to call me a whore" speech. Meridith can be whiny and self-indulgent at times, but I really do end up rooting for her anyway (mostly because I tend to identify with her, lol).
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Old 09-21-2006, 02:31 PM   #39
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Only 6 1/2 more hours to go!!!

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Old 09-21-2006, 02:35 PM   #40
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I told my bf that I wanted to start watching Grey's Anatomy tonight and he said, ehh guess I'll go watch tv in the bedroom. I suppose he's thinking this is more a chick show. He's nowhere to be found when I'm watching my Sex and the City dvds.
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Old 09-21-2006, 02:53 PM   #41
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Is it bad of me to want to skip out on this hockey game now?

I wonder if abc.com will stream this episode after it airs tonight, for those of us who weren't home (or whose vcrs went haywire on us ).
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Old 09-21-2006, 03:29 PM   #42
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Is it bad of me to want to skip out on this hockey game now?

I wonder if abc.com will stream this episode after it airs tonight, for those of us who weren't home (or whose vcrs went haywire on us ).
Nope! I'm going to miss it as well, and I'm praying to the VCR gods that it will tape with no problems.
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Old 09-21-2006, 07:01 PM   #43
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2 more hours!!
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Old 09-21-2006, 07:30 PM   #44
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2 more hours!!

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Old 09-21-2006, 07:40 PM   #45
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