Behind the Lesbian Story Line on “Grey’s Anatomy”

Photo credit: Randy Holmes/ABC

AE: Did they have this story line in the works before the strike?
I don’t know, but I don’t think they did it as a stunt to get people
back to watching after the strike. I really think that they wanted to develop
these two characters, and that you could see a closeness with them way before
they ever decided any kind of — I think they just have a chemistry together, as
actresses, too. And you could tell that in the room. They definitely have a

TD: And one thing we were talking about too is in our real world —
I’ve come across this, and I know Nikki has too, but you know, the character,
the heart surgeon —

AE: Erica.
Erica. She’s very strong, very good at what she does, and actually a
lot of men are threatened by that. … She’s very confident with what she does
and who she is, and obviously another confident woman would make perfect sense.

AE: It was interesting that the story line didn’t tell you very much
about what Erica was thinking and feeling at all. It was much more from the
perspective of Callie. Do you know why they decided to do that?
This is what I think — this is not what they said or anything. … Callie
is probably the one who’s more — like I was saying, like my best friend and I
fell in love, but she wasn’t gay. And Callie I think was very — it seems like
she’s going through this dilemma, like, "Oh my God, why am I attracted to her?
I’m not gay."

NW: Right, because she’s still sleeping [with] and has a
relationship with the other doctor.

TD: So she’s got to be the one to make the move, because Erica
probably seems to me like she is gay.

NW: And not attached as well, right now. And I think that’s where
it’s coming from, too, you know, here you have Callie who is dating McSteamy —

AE: She’s not really dating him. [laughs]
Whatever she’s doing with him. She’s sleeping with him. So from that
angle I think it’s probably confusing to her. Here she is with this guy, they
have great sex, I think they do — that’s why they’re together. And now she’s
finding herself emotionally drawn to this other woman. And physically.

TD: Well, that’s what happened exactly in my relationship. So it
makes sense to me that they’re telling it from her point of view, because she’s
the more confused one.

NW: Right, exactly, she’s in a relationship right now.

TD: And she’s going to be the one who has to make the move. Because
[Erica] probably wouldn’t cross that boundary, thinking [Callie] was straight.

AE: You know, it’s interesting because that was my initial reading of
things as well [in the first few episodes], but it’s problematic because the
character of Erica actually stated explicitly that she wasn’t a lesbian.
Well maybe she could be lying …

NW: [overlapping] She protests too much!

TD: Yeah, exactly!

NW: I mean, who knows where they’re going to go with that.

AE: In some interviews, Brooke Smith seemed to suggest that Erica was
not necessarily aware of her own sexuality.
And maybe she’s not. And that’s where they came to us as writers,
saying: "We don’t know if we’re going to label these women. And in fact,
that’s why you’re here. Explain to us, once you figured that out for
yourselves, did you put yourself in that kind of a label, does it really
matter? Can you just fall in love with another person?"

TD: And it could be very much that both of them are straight until
they discover that they’re not. [laughs]

AE: Did you find that there was anything that was a particular challenge
to communicate to them, that they weren’t getting?
No, they were great.

TD: They were really very open. They had genuine shock and surprise
at some things, like one of Nikki’s stories.

AE: Which story of Nikki’s were they surprised at?
Oh, it was fun when she called her best friend to say —

NW: Who I had previously dated in my lifetime, to say: "Listen,
I just got divorced, and I really need your help. I don’t know if I’m gay or
straight. Could you come in and sleep with me?"

And he was like, "Yeah,
OK, yeah I can, I can." And he came into town, and I took one look at him
and started to kiss him, and he’s like: "OK, Nik, stop, please, stop, you
are the gayest woman I know. We just can’t do this, you are just so gay."

I’m like, "I am,
aren’t I?" And he’s like, "Yes, let’s just go to dinner." We
were like laying there naked in bed and this is like all wrong.

AE: Well, in a way they brought a moment like that into the show [when
Mark tells Callie he knows she's attracted to Erica].
Exactly! They did, I know that they did.


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