There’s always an abundance of plot twists, unexpected pregnancies, family strife, and sexy doctors doin’ it on Grey’s Anatomy, but one thing is certain: this is a show that always brings the drama. It’s also one of those shows that I tend to watch out of habit, not because I’m desperate to know what happens from week to week. I mean, I kinda am. But mostly I just watch it because it’s readily available and doesn’t suck.
But when I do think about what keeps me coming back every week, I’ll acknowledge that it’s the melodrama. I don’t cry easy, but theoretically this is the sort of show where you’ll be crying before the commercial break and snickering at witty doctor jokes after.
Melodrama is a genre that’s crafted with an intent to eliciting emotions. Melodrama, often the domain of women viewers (and in the recent past, women writers too!), offers the type of rollercoaster narrative that satisfies our desire to have multiple viewing experiences at once. When I watch Grey’s, I get the comedy of slick banter, the pathos of emotional vulnerability from both the doctors and their patients, the pseudo-science of a medical drama, and a vague, overarching fear of death that permeates all shows set in hospitals where people tend to die (Okay, maybe that last one is just me and Woody Allen. You just know he spends his Thursdays watching primetime soaps with Soon-Yi).
Melodrama allows us to realize emotions vicariously. I don’t have to hook-up with an older doctor who introduces me to his 18-year-old daughter one day and his love-child fetus with his bisexual best friend the next to know that these sort of relationships are bad news. If Lexie Grey can live out my sexy doctor fantasy for me, and show me how much it sucks to be a lady sometimes, then I’m all for it. Grey’s Anatomy is entertaining mostly because it’s not me in these outlandish situations, even if I may have experienced similar emotions before. I can relate, but I have enough distance to know that stopped elevators and effusive monologues just aren’t real life. But if I watch enough Grey’s, will my cup of ambivalent feelings runneth over too? Stay tuned!