A Geek Girl and Grey’s
In the wake of its season 13 finale, I can’t help but feel as enamored with Grey’s Anatomy as I did when I first committed myself to the Shonda Rhimes way of life a mere five years ago during my sophomore year of high school. My relationship with the show has been steady and enduring—nothing at all like those I’ve had with practically every other TV show I’ve ever loved and, at times, hated. Grey’s represents everything I’ve come to love about storytelling and, more specifically, storytelling by and for women.
Grey’s Anatomy is not a typical geeky fandom. I know this, but sometimes I wonder if that is because it’s been publicly declared a show for women time and again. After all, it’s overly dramatic. It’s overly emotional. It’s scientifically inaccurate, for wizard god’s sake! After all, we all know that the primary purpose of dramatic television is to deliver cold, hard medical facts. Joking aside, I know we know that that sort of myopic criticism doesn’t hold up as reason to dismiss an entire show and its fans, but I still worry. I worry that there’s less room for shows like Grey’s in geeky discourse because it’s a full-time job to work against that kind of emotional-equals-uncool patriarchal conditioning.
My point is that Grey’s Anatomy deserves a Han-shot-first level of geeky attention. It’s a women-centric story that prioritizes the complex development of its characters’ emotional lives over strictly believable plot development. (You just have to ignore the number of near-death catastrophes Mer has personally experienced). I love Grey’s because it’s more about the characters and their relationships with each other than it is its hospital backdrop. We see the characters hurt each other and support each other, break up with each other and keep coming back to each other. It’s one of the most realistic representations of long-term interpersonal interaction I’ve ever seen. Maybe this seems overly feminine to outsiders because it’s one of very few popular stories that centers women’s experiences.
Grey’s Anatomy deserves a place in our world because it’s about us. Nerding out about it is a subversive act. Not only was it created by the most successful woman showrunner of all time, but it depicts women who are both wildly emotional and wildly competent. Imagine using the same “geeky” online spaces, irl spaces, language, and memes that sometimes overtly exclude us to celebrate something that is so clearly for us. To rank Grey’s Anatomy among our more traditionally geeky faves is to continue reclaiming and adapting this subculture to be more safe and inclusive for our community.
In closing, I implore you to spend a little time during this season break loving Meredith Grey and her fellow doctors at Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital. You won’t regret it, and, in doing so, you’ll be sufficiently prepared when season 14 returns this fall.