6 reasons Grey’s Anatomy does it for women
Here’s why we, as women, love Grey’s. Spoiler: it’s not (just) because of McDreamy and McSteamy.
Seasons 1 to 15 of Grey’s Anatomy are now on Showmax, with back-to-back episodes of Shonda Rhimes’ medical-drama-with-a-difference ready to binge-watch. But first, let us remind you why it’s a show that ticks all our feminist boxes.
- It’s a woman’s story
The narrator of Grey’s Anatomy is Meredith Grey, a doctor and surgical intern who starts her training at the Seattle Grace hospital. Meredith’s mother was a famous surgeon, and Meredith struggles with wanting to break free from her mother’s reputation and wanting to walk in her footsteps. When you compare Grey’s to, say Scrubs (which, we must admit, we love for its off-the-wall comedy), another show about doctors narrated by a central character, it’s obvious that Grey’s was created by a woman, and is concerned with telling women’s stories.
- It shows women being strong AF
One scene springs immediately to mind when you think of the women in Grey’s showing some true grit: In Season 2, episode 16 (It’s the End of the World), a heavily pregnant Dr Bailey, the resident in charge of the interns, comes back from holiday and immediately starts restoring order, bossing everyone around, when she suddenly asks them to page Dr Addison Shepherd and to bring her a wheelchair. Nobody moves. Intern George asks her what she wants him to tell Dr Shepherd. “Tell her my contractions are 10 minutes apart, and my water just broke all over your shoes,” she says calmly. For Dr Bailey, there’s no drama around giving birth – she just carries on giving orders and taking names.
- It doesn’t shy away from “delicate matters”
In Season 1, Meredith and Dr Izzie Stevens live with fellow intern Dr George O’ Malley, and, in episode 4, his difficulties in being the only guy in the house rise to the surface. Izzie asks him to buy tampons for them because it’s his turn to go grocery shopping. “I am a man! I don’t buy girl products!” he replies. Izzie carries on pushing back, making him look and feel ridiculous for refusing, throughout the episode. It’s like the writers’ way of saying to men in general, “Periods are not scary. Women have them. They’re a reality. Grow up.”
It takes a hard line on violence against women
Right at the beginning of the series, in Season 1, episode 2 (The First Cut is the Deepest), Dr Derek Shepherd treats a badly beaten rape victim … who bit off her rapist’s penis. All the doctors, men included, side with the rape victim: Derek tells the rapist, “I have good news and bad news. The good news is that Dr Bailey stopped the bleeding. The bad news is we gave your penis to the cops. Have a nice life.” We are fairly sure that in any other show, at least one of the doctors would feel sorry for the guy – but this is Grey’s, and none of them do.
It calls out everyday sexism
In Season 2, episode 27 (Losing My Religion), Izzie explains to Dr Webber, the Chief, that she likes her patient Denny because he doesn’t assume something about her because of her looks. “I’m a pretty girl … It’s how men see me. I’m not a smart girl or an interesting girl … and I’m used to it … but Denny … doesn’t make me feel like I’m a pretty girl. He makes me feel like me.” This reminds us that the patriarchy and its obsession with the way women should look sinks all of us – even those of us who conform to its ideals.
It reminds us that we don’t need men to save us
In one of the most memorable goodbyes on Grey’s, Cristina gives Meredith the advice that every woman should hear from a good friend. As Cristina is about to leave for Zurich, in Season 10, episode 24 (Fear of the Unknown), she tells Meredith: “Don’t let what you want eclipse what you need. He’s very dreamy, but he’s not the sun. You are.”