“Private Practice” mini-cap: Suicide isn’t painless


Spoilers ahead. And rants. And, best of all, a chance for you to rant.

Let’s start with a reminder of why most of us started watching Private Practice in the first place.

I can’t believe none of you claimed Kate Walsh as your Fake TV Wife.

Last week on Private Practice, we saw the anvil falling toward Susan when she said, “No extraordinary measures.” A lot of you were upset that PP seemed to be going the Dead Lesbian route with Addy’s brand new stepmother, but I defended Shonda Rhimes and company. After all, people die on TV shows, so treating lesbians like regular characters means some of them will die. Right?

Well, sort of. I mean, yes, I stand by the statement, but I can’t defend where this storyline went.

The episode picked up where last week’s ended — with Susan rushed into the ER after she collapsed at her wedding to Bizzy. The doctors stabilized her, but when Addison told her she had a blood clot in her lung, Susan refused surgery to remove it and asked Addy again to honor the DNR.

Bizzy showed up just in time to see Susan go into cardiac arrest and flew into a rage when Addy made the call not to resuscitate. As mother and daughter watched Susan slip away, Bizzy was incredulous. How could Addison just stand there and do nothing while the love of her mother’s life died?

So far, nothing too outrageous, right? I mean sure, Bizzy blamed Addy for Susan’s death, but we expected that. And, this being television, we expected that they would make peace with each other before the end of the episode — which is exactly what happened. Addison even said “I love you” to Bizzy and Bizzy said “Thank you” to Addy and they smiled and hugged big and all was right with the world.

Until Bizzy killed herself.

See, this is why lesbians get so defensive about what TV shows do to lesbian characters. Bizzy certainly had every reason to be devastated that her constant was gone. And feeling lost and hopeless in the midst of such grief is normal. But suicide? Not so much.

It also seems inconsistent with what we know of Bizzy. For her, appearances were everything. She had, after all, spent most of her life in the closet, married to The Captain despite her long-term relationship with Susan, in order to preserve an image of respectability. Even her suicide note instructed Addison to say she died in her sleep because “the truth is too embarrassing.” I didn’t much like Bizzy, but when my reaction to the story turned from sadness for her character to anger with the writers in a split second, I knew the story had taken a wrong turn.

So here we are, left once again with a desperate, psychologically scarred lesbian so codependent on her lover that she can’t live without her. I know it could happen with a straight character, too. But it sure seems to happen more often when characters are lesbian.

I think what bothers me most is the timing of this storyline. While LGBT people and our allies are doing everything we can to convince gay youth that “it gets better,” having a gay character on a popular show choose suicide to escape the prospect of loneliness seems irresponsible. The writers had a lot of options; choosing this one is indefensible.

Do you agree? Was Bizzy’s suicide an organic conclusion to her storyline? Were you surprised at the turn of events?

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