Shondaland, Shipping and Why the Two Don’t Go Together
I had really hoped I could spend the rest of my career as a critic not writing another word about Shonda Rhimes and anything she did. Scandal’s gone, How to Get Away With Murder is near the end, and even Rhimes herself has departed ABC for the greener pastures of Netflix (where she can no doubt have her characters use the word most associated with their favorite activity) I figured I could just run out the clock on TGIT, and be thankful for what Shonda did for Million Little Things.
And then this Thursday, Alex Karev departed Seattle Grace. This was going to happen at some point — after fifteen years, Justin Chambers one of the few original characters still standing had announced he was leaving Grey’s Anatomy. The fact that he had filmed his final episodes before the writers could come up with an appropriate departure was inevitably going to disappoint those few steadfast fans of the series. And then it was revealed that Alex was leaving the hospital to live with Izzie Stevens. You know, his first wife who he had a child with before she departed for greener pastures, and who as far I know, they never explained just how he ended up divorcing her. And the inevitable outrage followed from all those who had been invested in the Alex-Jo marriage.
Full disclosure. I was an Alex-Izzie shipper when I watched the series. Considering all the obstacles they went through just getting to the point where they could be together, I was more invested in their relationship than Mer-Der. The fact that Katherine Heigl ended up leaving Grey’s Anatomy without any real explanation was, along with the death of George O’Malley, the major reason I gave up watching the show more than a decade ago. So the fact that Alex and Izzie ended up being together, even in absentia, gives me a real sense of closure that I really thought would never happen.
But I can understand why some people were still invested in a relationship that had been going on for six years onscreen, and whose disruption would make people unhappy. To which to all of you who are still watching Grey’s after all these years: Seriously, have you learned nothing from what the show?
Shonda Rhimes and whoever’s running the series now (I could just easily look it up but I don’t think it makes a huge difference) made it abundantly clear that on Grey’s Anatomy, love is as best temporary. There’s no such thing as a happy ending. And by the way, why are still you watching anyway? Didn’t you all swear up and down that after Derek Shephard ended up dying that you were never gonna watch the show again? There’s an online petition there to prove it.
I have said over and over I never understood the appeal of Grey’s Anatomy, but I think I do now. Its precursor is now ER, where at least some people cared about saving lives, nor St. Elsewhere, where we actually gave a damn when characters were killed off, but rather Melrose Place. The difference is, Melrose Place never made the mistake of taking itself seriously. It knew it was a guilty pleasure, and its entire cast and writers leaned into it with relish. When Michael Mancini divorced and kept having affairs with the same women, you knew it was playing as a satire. Grey’s Anatomy has spent its entire run, trying to convince its legions of fans that it’s about medicine or love. But its no more about that Scandal was about politics or How to Get Away with Murder is about law. It’s about sex, sex, and whoever you feel good sleeping with at the time. Relationship, marriage are at best minor delays in screwing someone strange. If you really doubt that, ask yourself this. How many times in the series run has a doctor married someone on staff, divorced them, and married someone else? This is a lot closer to incest than Game of Thrones ever was.
And Rhimes and her cohorts have always emphasized this. Why else would Richard Weber lose both his mistress and his wife to early onset Alzheimer’s? So that he could sleep with someone else guilt free. Remember when Lexie Grey and Mark ‘McSteamy’ Sloane died on the same plane crash? Both actors were planning to leave the show. It would’ve taken no effort for Rhimes to write and ending where they leave Seattle together and live happily ever after. Not only did she do that, she actually had the gall to say when it was over: ‘Now Mark and Lexie can be together forever” Aaron Spelling at his most outlandish was never that cruel.
I’m honestly amazed Grey’s fans actually believe that a happy ending is possible. Remember, Rhimes refused to kill Christina Yang when Sandra Oh was going to leave because she didn’t think Meredith would ever get over it. But having to pull the plug on your husband/lover for a decade is something you can?! I’m amazed she actually had the nerve to say that friendship matters, considering that almost nobody on this series (or again, any Shondaland show) has ever had a friend? You have colleagues; people you sleep with, and people you may sleep with later. That’s about it.
I could spend pages ranting and raving about everything wrong with Shonda Rhimes in general and Grey’s Anatomy in particular, but I’ve done enough of that for a lifetime. So I’ll just say this to Grey’s fans. Alex Karev left Seattle Grace (or whatever the hospital’s called now) alive. Very few cast members have. And he’s going to get a happy ending. As far as I know, nobody does on this series. If that doesn’t make you happy, well, I’m sorry; you know damn well the showrunners have never really cared about your happiness as long as you watch. You want your favorite characters to be together; there’s fanfic for that, and believe me, it can often be more satisfying than what you get on this show.