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Anatomy’s grey area

November 5th, 2008     by Stark Koenig     Comments

Anyone watching Grey’s Anatomy recently will have witnessed the budding romance between two of the female characters, Callie Torres (played by Sara Ramirez) and Erica Hahn (played by Brooke Smith). Beginning with some mild flirtation last season which culminated in a season-finale kiss that blew the lesbian fan base away (not to mention wooed back a few of those who had given up on the show after the whole Isaiah Washington F-word fiasco), the relationship between these two has begun to develop into something more akin to the other heterosexual relationships on the show: funny with a side of sexy.

However, in a somewhat expected turn, things soon began to get questionable.

While Hahn’s character seemed to adjust to her coming out process relatively smoothly, Torres was cast with ongoing “gay panic”, constantly questioning her sexuality in a way that played on all of the homophobic jokes the show has shied of making directly. In an unfortunate turn of the story, Torres even turned to her male ex-lover for tips on how to approach the “uncharted territory” of the va-jay-jay. To which I say, I believe that any woman who says she hasn’t at least attempted once to chart her own territory, so to speak, is a liar. ahem

But seriously, I was disappointed that once again a woman was sent to learn about sexuality, even about her own body, from a man. It’s frustrating to watch the same stereotypes played out over and over again: women as sexually naive and men as the knowledgeable guides to not only their, but our own, pleasure.

That aside, the inclusion on a show as popular as Grey’s Anatomy of a viable lesbian couple experiencing the same foibles and romantic exploits as any of the straight couples on the show was a refreshing change; it received very little fanfare as compared to, say, ten years ago when Ellen came out in the biggest media splash of the season. Most of the audience seemed to accept this turn of events as pretty normal and even fun to watch.

Sadly, however, the fun has ended. Brooke Smith has been written off the show. Actually, she hasn’t even been given that respect. Her final scene comes without warning: Smith was told only last week about the departure. Reportedly her last appearance on the show only reveals the doctor getting into her car and driving, one presumes, home. Never to return. Rumours are flying wild about whose decision it was to drop the actress and the lesbian storyline, and as to the reasons for that canning, but the message is pretty clear: lesbians are a-okay as long as they don’t actually have relationships or have sex or even talk about it with the same fun euphemisms afforded the rest of the cast.

Shonda Rhimes has come forward with the expected PR play, stating that it was not a matter of homophobia (this show has had its share of that old battle, hasn’t it?) but that the producers want to allow Ramirez to show her magic…alone. Why the magic of one actress should be eclipsed by the presence of another is a mystery.

So what does everyone think? Mismatched chemistry, as Rhimes and the ABC party line insist, or straight up homophobia in the most blatant sense? If you are so inclined, you may contact ABC to leave a comment as to your thoughts on the decision to let Brooke Smith go and to abandon the lesbian storyline between Torres and Hahn.

Tags: media savvy, queeriosities

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