I will begin by admitting that, yes, I watch and enjoy ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ I know that many people consider it a low-quality show, and, in all honesty, a lot of shows have much better writing. When it comes to diversity, however, good old ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is actually one of the best shows on mainstream television.
Two of the main characters on the show are a lesbian couple named Callie and Arizona. Callie is actually bisexual, and was, in an earlier season, married to a man. The great thing about Callie and Arizona’s (non-legal) marriage is that they are actually one of the most stable couples on the show. They certainly have their share of drama, because seriously, this is ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ but compared to all the other couples on this show they’re normal. Basically, the point is, there is a lesbian couple that has an adult relationship that is treated exactly the same way as other relationships. They are also raising a daughter.
Even before Calzona there was plenty of positive queer presence. In one early season, I think the episode aired 2005, a few characters invited Joe the bartender over for Thanksgiving. Joe owns the bar across the street from the hospital where naturally the protagonists spend a lot of time. Joe shows up and introduces his boyfriend, Walter. It’s never stated if the characters were previously aware of his orientation but the audience was not. The scene played out exactly as it would have had Walter been a woman. In fact, it was actually used for a different joke about how Joe, despite being a bartender, did not bring any alcohol (he did bring pie) and when a surgeon character is whining (she wanted a drink) he snarkily asks is she brought scalpels. After that Joe and Walter hang out for a while and when they leave it’s just “nice to meet you Walter happy Thanksgiving guys.”
Another time a child patient had two dads and no one comments on it at all. There is a joke involving one dad being rather squeamish and anxiety prone and the son and the other dad kind of rolling their eyes as if to say “but we love him anyway.” It’s just played as if there’s nothing unusual about it and unfortunately on TV that’s pretty uncommon.
Recently a patient was an eighteen-year-old trans guy who was having breast reduction surgery. The doctors were so great to him even trying to help when his ignorant father showed up, but they didn’t really need to because his trans girlfriend handled it like a badass. They were also an interracial couple.
It’s not just the representation of queer and trans characters either. A myriad of article has been written discussing the lack of realistic racial diversity on TV. ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ used blind casting. They actually changed a character’s last name after a Korean actress was cast because they decided they wanted the character to also have a Korean last name. Then there’s Miranda Bailey, resident short, sassy, black woman. Is she a nurse, as per stereotypes that have thankfully started to go away in recent years? No, she’s pretty much the best surgeon on the show. There are also two other black main characters, and now there are two new black interns. And none of them are stereotypical. There’s also a Latina doctor, who is married to a blonde woman. The Korean doctor is in relationship with a white guy. This show does not shy away from interracial relationships.
The writing on this show may be woefully transparent, but it’s a positive influence on the world. ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is supposed to be my guilty pleasure show, but then maybe I should feel more guilty about the good shows I watch that are socially backwards. (refrain from asSuming, i will not Point fingers or Name names)