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Monday, 11 April 2016

Cured: simple as that

I always start my weekends off with a good hourly dose of the newest Greys Anatomy. Because its Friday. And Friday night is the night I usually watch Greys Anatomy. Monday night is my night to cook. Tuesday night I don't go and visit my mother. You get the Flight of the Concords gist of things...Friday night is Grey's night, because that's the night the newest episode gets released.

Greys Anatomy is obviously taken with a very large grain of salt when you look at it from a medical viewpoint. I don't watch it for the medicine. I watch it for the Grey  & Mcdreamy get together-break up when Mrs. Mcdreamy arrives-get back together when Mrs. McDreamy leaves to start Private Practice-break up again-Grey sort of dies-Grey lives-Grey & McDreamy get back together-Grey and McDreamy adopt random African baby-Grey and McDreamy have own child-McDreamy works away from home-McDreamy dies-Grey has dead McDreamy's baby-drama. (Times this drama by every character ever. It's exhausting, but worth it for the mental workout you get trying to keep up with it all.)

On Friday's episode, the doctors at Grey Sloane Memorial Hospital (formerly known as Seattle Grace Hospital) did what they do best - performed a complex and probably improbable procedure to 'cure' a patient of his multiple sclerosis. If I ever develop any sort of super weird-hard to cure medical condition, Seattle Grace will be my go to hospital. Those doctors can solve all the crazy rare disorders.

Which is a problem, from an awareness point of view. It means the audience isn't ever set up to learn more about the medicine. What do I know about MS from watching that episode? I saw his hand shake a little, occasionally. That's it. I didn't expect to see all the complexities of living with a disease like MS, but I would have liked to have seen some. Disease can be quite character building, but instead I was distanced from the disease. Made to feel like it was unimportant, and the realities of his every day life were belittled. Focus was shifted entirely from the characters' MS (the entire reason he was even in the episode) and instead honed in on his suave pick-up lines, with the disease relegated as an itsy bitsy sub-plot built in to simply further a bit of fluff romance.

If the print and screen world is constantly curing everything, there's no chance to show what the condition is like in real life. It's lazy, and it says to the audience that those of us living with medical conditions aren't worth taking the time to learn about, or accurately portray.

When dealing with medical conditions in T.V. shows, writing, or any other media, there is a tendency to create the cure, rather than deal with the condition in a practical and realistic way. Maybe because it makes the plot too complex, or because writers and creators think it will be too hard to constantly factor that condition in. Maybe they worry they will lose audiences if they haven't learnt to sift out the mundane details of living with a disease, illness or disability from the really cool stories we pick up along the way.

Whatever the reason, there's a solution: Go and talk to a living gold mine; someone with the disease themselves. Get the basics, tell the basics. Get the humour, the happiness, the sadness, the fear, the anger, the community and tell that side of the story. You don't need to focus everything on the disease, but don't include a disability or otherwise to simply cure it 5 minutes later. Such lazy writing serves no purpose other than to illustrate a lack of compassion and understanding on your part, and to tell audiences that you are not creative enough to get to a particular plot point without disrespecting the experiences of your own characters. (And by extension, the real-life versions that you have based them off).


  1. Wait, Grey died and lived then had a baby with McDreamy? LOL I refuse to even try to keep up. It is worse than QVC, not really QVC is much worse.

    I referred your blog to the TUDiabetes blog site for the week of April 11, 2016.

    1. Yes! She drowned & McDreamy bought her back to life. Not that you need to know...its a very complex show, obviously. XD

      What's QVC? It sounds bad, so I would probably enjoy it.

  2. Your critique hits home, especially about trivializing the disease. Of course medical conditions are only brought into any tv show for the drama, whence rises one of the most tenacious Iron Rules of Hollywood, my personal favorite as a T1: "If he's a diabetic, he's gonna need a shot!" I swear some day I'll be passing out from a hypo and some faithful TV viewer is going to yell "Quick, give him some insulin!"

    1. I fear the same thing happening. When my little brother watched Hansel & Gretel he thought he should give me insulin if I was hypo!

      I have educated everyone around me in my home and work life that they are never to administer insulin.