Is “Grey’s Anatomy” bad for women?


This past Sunday, the New York Times said there’s something wrong with Grey’s Anatomy and its upcoming spinoff. And it’s something kind of serious: According to the author of the article, Alessandra Stanley, these shows are bad for women.

Stanely notes that "career girls" on TV started off "competent-but-flaky" (see Mary Tyler Moore and Marlo Thomas), but have devolved into “basket case[s]” — and it’s all thanks to Ally McBeal.

Unfortunately, says Stanley, the Kate Walsh spinoff seems even worse in this regard:

“Sex isn’t the problem with the new series; it’s the subjugation. Addison looks up her old friend from medical school whose perfect marriage has just ended and finds herself enmeshed with two other mature, reputable professionals: a fertility specialist and a psychotherapist. All three women are lovelorn, sex-starved and prone to public displays of disaffection.”

“It wouldn’t matter, since the show is admittedly over-the-top escapist fantasy for women, except that it is troubling that even in escapist fantasies, today’s heroines have to be weak, needy and oversexed to be liked by women and desired by men.”

Along with blaming Ally McBeal for starting this trend, Stanley scolds Grey’s creator, Shonda Rhimes, for not having the sense to correct it:

“Somehow, even in the hands of a woman, a show about female doctors finds humor and solace in their distress. Self-deprecation has been replaced with self-denigration. People complain that hip-hop stars use obscene lyrics and lewd music videos to demean women. Sometimes, so do even the most bourgeois women’s television shows.”

I stopped watching Grey’s a while ago, mostly because I can’t stand Meredith Grey. I’ve always thought of her as whiny, spineless and selfish, and I also have serious doubts about Ellen Pompeo‘s acting abilities. Yes, Dr. Yang (Sandra Oh) and Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) almost make up for Meredith’s mushiness, but not quite, at least not for me.

And I think Alessandra Stanley has pinpointed something in this article, because I also found Ally McBeal repellent (and I haven’t been able to get into Brothers and Sisters because I still see Calista Flockhart as Ally). You could say I have a problem with skinny blondes, but I really don’t think that’s it — I think I have a problem with thin personalities and ditzy behavior.

But maybe things are looking up: When Malinda and I exchanged email about this article, Malinda noted that several of the fall pilots are about “tough working women.” I live in hope!

What do you think? Does Grey’s demean women? Are you still looking forward to the spinoff, based on last week’s episode?

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