Fans of Callie and Erica on Grey’s Anatomy — in fact, lesbians everywhere — sit down and brace yourselves. Dr. Erica Hahn is no more.
Entertainment Weekly’s Michael Ausiello reported Monday that Grey’s Anatomy has let actress Brooke Smith go, spelling the end of her character and the relationship with Sara Ramirez’s Dr. Callie Torres. Smith confirmed the news in an interview with Ausiello.
Her last episode will be this Thursday.
Smith’s dismissal means the loss of American broadcast TV’s only lesbian/bisexual couple in primetime. It was also the first significant gay relationship portrayed on the hit ABC series. The handful of remaining lesbian/bisexual relationships on TV are on cable, premium channels and daytime television.
In addition, E! Online’s Kristin revealed that Melissa George’s character is no longer bisexual. “Melissa came on as a lesbian character,” a Grey‘s source tells Kristin, “but they changed the script and now she isn’t. She starts off flirting with Callie but it never goes anywhere.”
Kristin adds, “I’m told by those who work on the ABC series that the gay-themed storylines and gay characters are being downplayed and even erased from upcoming scripts.”
Besides striking a serious blow for queer women’s visibility on the small screen, the moves seem to signal a significant setback in the industry’s acceptance of mainstream gay and lesbian storylines.
According to Ausiello, the decision to eliminate Erica Hahn’s character came not from series creator Shonda Rhimes but from ABC network executives who “had issues” with the “explicit direction” of Callica’s relationship, and dislike for Erica’s character.
Never mind that the most explicit thing viewers saw between Ramirez and Smith was kissing and later lying together fully-covered in nightgowns.
Rhimes told reporters in July that she planned to explore Erica’s coming-out process, along with Callie’s, “and then we’re going to watch the larger world of what happens when the two of them come out in the hospital, and what happens when Callie’s dad finds out and that sort of thing, which I think is going to be really, really interesting.”
ABC public relations representatives did not return AfterEllen.com phone calls in time for publication.
NEXT PAGE: Smith “floored” to be let go.