Monday, March 23, 2015

A Feminist Critique on Grey’s Anatomy

The traditional portrayal of women in the media has been the subject of much study because of the repeated sexualization, subordination, and under representation of females in mass media. One of the most popular prime time medical dramas, Grey’s Anatomy, now in its ninth season, seems to surpass most of this wrath. Grey’s Anatomy features strong female characters with demanding individual and professional aspirations, which is a progressive portrayal of female characters. 

Shonda Rhimes is the creator and main writer, also known for the hit shows, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder. Rhimes is known for breaking down norms and stereotypes in society and implementing an engaging and in depth story and plot w/out succumbing to our cultures ignorant ideologies. 

It's pretty clear that most of the central characters in Grey’s Anatomy are female. The question is whether or not these characters are representative of an attempt to honestly portray female characters outside of stereotypical roles. 

The characters who have children and would “normally” fall into the wife/mother category, are strong workers and the job of raising the kids are up to both the mom and the dad. The women in this show are so strong willed, they are leaving men left and right if they feel that they deserve better, no character is tied down to her husband as just the “wife”.

The men are shown just as often if not more than women as being the seductress. There is really no formula that makes it only one gender, only one race. This show makes it all sort of random and realistic.

It is rare for a huge drama program to cast more women than men, especially in a show featuring doctors (a career field still abundantly male). The greatest part is that the female’s in this show, are their as tools for medicine not just tools for men. “Grey’s Anatomy is a female-driven drama that allows its characters to make mistakes, attain success, be sexual, be emotional, and just generally be.” There are male characters, many in a leading position, but they are first introduced in relation to the female characters. This is somewhat different from the typical TV dynamic you see. Usually it is female characters that first are wives, mothers, and love interests before they are characters on their own. In Grey’s women dominate the screen with their successes and failures with the men just an accessory.

“It is okay to be a doctor. It is okay to be a mess. It is okay to be a doctor and a mess. It is okay to be a “basket case.” It is imperfect, it means that these characters have complexity, and it means that women are allowed to be whiny, spineless, and selfish. It means that isn’t all we have to be either. More than what media expects us to be, what the audience expects us to be, and what both are comfortable with women generally being. We are complex, human beings, and Grey’s Anatomy not only recognizes this, but shows us.

Common stereotypes for men are also being torn down in this t.v. drama. Each guy character has had their melt down with tears and their “punch a wall moment”, and the women are the same.

This work actually criticizes the patriarchal structure of society. There is only one character that I can think of that reflects it and that is Dr.Shepard, the main character’s wife. However, the wife sees this and is breaking free, possibly getting a divorce (we haven’t gotten there yet). And the husband doesn’t necessarily realize or see that he is in fact being patriarchal.

I would say that, Shonda Rhimes is one of the leaders of this “broader trend” of breaking down stereotypical gender norms and race norms frequently scene on T.V. Her in the particular show Grey’s Anatomy, tears down the stereotypical identities and ideologies in our society in such a way that as a viewer you escape the awfully judgemental and male dominated culture we live in, into a world where that doesn’t even cross your mind.

The "sensitive" side of men frequently portrayed in Grey's Anatomy

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