Callie said yes. Callie said yes!
Lesbian visibility will take a center stage May 5 when Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) and Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) walk down a pink-and-white decorated aisle and say their “I do’s” on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy.
During a recent set visit on location at the woody and beautiful Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flitridge, Calif., Ramirez and Capshaw were joined by cast and crew to film the couple’s elaborate wedding, in which both actresses spent the cold and windy day in Amsale gowns specially designed for the scene.
Jessica Capshaw (Arizona) and Sara Ramirez (Callie)
“It seems like absolutely a natural next step [for Callie and Arizona], especially after everything they’ve been through this season,” said Grey’s writer Stacy McKee, who has penned several episodes of the medical drama, including the May 5 wedding. “They split apart, they got back together. Then in the musical episode, Callie has a near-death experience and it really solidifies Arizona’s feelings for Callie.
“By the end of [the music event] is when Callie says yes,” McKee said. “After that journey that they’ve been on — which has been magical and musical, we couldn’t not have an amazing wedding for them.”
Ramirez, who has long been a champion of LGBT rights, hopes the lesbian wedding gets people talking about gay marriage, whether they support it or not.
“Obviously the visibility is incredible,” Ramirez said between takes. “You can’t make everybody happy and I’m aware of that. But if people are passionate and [the episode] triggers civic dialogue and communication and compassion for one another, I’m thrilled. Not everyone is going to agree on everything all the time, and that’s OK. That’s what makes our world interesting and challenging and gives us the opportunity to grow with each other and alongside each other if we chose to.”
Capshaw hopes the equality message comes through in her work. “I feel like if you went about it another way — ‘I’m going to break that door down and make a difference’ — that would be great and all but you might get your eyes off the prize in doing the work the way that it should be done,” she said, joking that her only trepidation about the marriage was wearing a wedding dress “before I was ready after having a baby.” “I feel like if you focus on the work and it’s really great, it will gets work done in another way.”
Co-star Sandra Oh, who plays Cristina Yang and is among the wedding guests with Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd)and Chief Richard Weber (James Pickens Jr.) feels the “Calzona” wedding will make it easier for society as a whole to accept gay marriage.
“We see two characters getting married and you know and love them,” Oh said. “The more we see the characters and the people that we really love and respect expressing their story lines, however that unfolds, I think the easier it is for a society at whole or who ever is watching to metabolize relationships. These are characters you hang out with every week. You know them, you see them and good golly, after you see the musical episode and what they go through, why would you not want them to get married?”
For McKee, the politics of gay marriage — it’s not legal in Washington, where Grey’s is set — was a “large factor.”
“We felt it was very important on a show that will reach many, many viewers that we have for what all purposes for our characters is a very real marriage because we feel very strongly that that’s an important thing,” she said. “We didn’t want this to be a little affair, we wanted it to feel like a big grand wedding. The fact that it’s not legal is a story point in the episode to a certain degree in that a very important person in Callie’s life isn’t here.”
McKee noted that the episode will be a romantic and formal Catholic wedding and will feature both Callie and Arizona’s parents, who may struggle with acceptance for religious reasons — a story line that was inspired by a friend of hers. “That’s part of why I wanted to write this episode — it just felt like it was a very timely and very important story to tell.”